I’m probably about to piss some people off

Security theater: The practice of investing in countermeasures intended to provide the feeling of improved security while doing little or nothing to actually achieve it.

I have been using “Bandaid on a gaping wound” for years, to describe how I feel about a myriad of issues from bullying to equal rights to drug use and beyond. It seems all we do, as a culture, is pretend to fix things. Maybe I’m late to the game, but thanks to Adam Ruins Everything, I’ve learned a term that better describes what I think, and gives the issue itself a somber yet satirical air. Security theater. Exactly.

Here’s where I start pissing people off–when I read in the local paper about all the strides being taken to combat drugs in this town, I scoffed. I’ve seen the signs up all over the place, “Talk to your kids about heroin before it talks to them!” “Parents who host lose the most!” Yes, good messages and something all parents should know without signs all over town. Then how about stepping up the D.A.R.E. program–again. Teach kids from an even earlier age that pot and heroin are equally awful, and be sure to include the hypocrisy that alcohol is okay once you’re a certain age because the government says so. Strike fear into the hearts of kids everywhere with drug-sniffing dogs and mandatory open door policy in bathrooms. Even arresting and prosecuting those who sell drugs, the “little guys” the authorities used to have no interest in, is security theater. How is it no one seems to get that these things don’t stop anyone. Those who abide by these rules weren’t going to break them in any serious way to begin with. Those who don’t aren’t thwarted. By anything. It only makes the populace at large feel like something’s being done. It gives the desperate a straw to cling to. Are these bad things? Yes, because they create bubbles so fragile they will ultimately pop, and by then, the consequences are so much worse.

I’m not blindly raining on society’s “war against drugs” efforts. I was that desperate mother, buying into the security theater of AA and rehab*. Chris did both. Within weeks of getting out of a 30-day program, he was using again…in the parking lot of an AA meeting. I’m not saying these venues don’t work for some. Without going into the full rant detail about statistics, even AA’s own studies show their success rate to be 1:3. That means of every three addicts, one finds recovery through AA**. There are many studies that show the ratio to be even lower. I know many who’ve found success through this method. Yet, I know many more who have spent hundreds of thousands on rehab stint after rehab stint, who attend meetings daily, and still can’t stay sober.

When AA and rehab didn’t work for Chris, we took the more scientific route. He stayed clean for three years. And yet, here we are.

Sometimes AA and rehab does work. Sometimes a more scientific approach works. Sometimes “toughing it out” works. There’s no saying what’s going to work for some and not others. So what do we do? Throw our hands in the air and whoever lives, lives, and whoever dies, dies? Early on, someone said that to me. “You’ll see. You don’t want to believe it now, but you will.”

After Chris died, I’ll be honest. I did feel that way. It feels true. But that optimist in me that cannot buy into all this security theater believes 100% that there is an answer. We just don’t have it yet. We need to stop treating the symptom (drug abuse) as if it were the cause. It’s not the cause. I repeat–It is not the cause. It’s a symptom, and until we root out the real cause, we’re going to keep losing our loved ones.

Smart as he was, Chris was still human. When he felt it all starting again, he tricked us all. He tricked himself, because he didn’t want to be “that person.” The drug addict. The criminal. The mental case. Getting rid of the stigma that goes with the mental issues often leading to drug use is the #1 thing we should be doing, because it’s something we actually can do.

Whatever would have helped Chris, really helped him, is still a mystery. We have an obligation, as a society, to uncover it. We simply don’t know enough. About anything. And we never will if we keep throwing money into the security theater we already know doesn’t work. Right now, the measures taken don’t work nearly as effectively as people want to believe.

*I am truly happy for those who do find peace through these venues. If it worked for you, wonderful. You’re one of the lucky ones. Stay strong! And if ever you find yourself faltering, ask for help. 

**The ratio of success of those going it on their own is also 1:3. Just sayin’.

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18 Comments

Filed under Life's honest moments

18 responses to “I’m probably about to piss some people off

    • Terri-Lynne DeFino

      I thought I scheduled this to go up tomorrow. I wasn’t quite finished with it! Yipes! Ah, well. It’s out there now. And considering how many hits it’s gotten without more than your comment, I guess it’s safe to assume I have indeed pissed people off. 😦

      Like

  1. Rant on, Terri. The truth deserves to be heard.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Terri-Lynne DeFino

      Thanks, Karin. I truly don’t understand why people don’t want to see the truth of things. I makes me really, really sad. Boo.

      Like

  2. This is so true for so many things. Drug and alcohol use, teen pregnancies, gun violence, affordable healthcare, the list is endless. It’s the American Way – scream and cry something must be done, enact laws that don’t change anything (and often make things worse) and then scratch our heads and wonder why nothing changes. Bravo to you for saying out loud.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Terri-Lynne DeFino

      Thank you, Maura. I twisted and turned over posting this. I have been in NJ the last couple of days, and thought I scheduled it to go up on Wednesday, after I had time to look at it again. I don’t know why people want to live in these bubbles. I have nothing but respect for those trying to make a difference–but the pretense dishonors every effort. It really does. Thanks for reading. XX

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Security theater is exactly what our country does. And I agree with Maura that we grandstand on so many issues, but don’t invest the money or resources into real solutions.

    I also don’t believe on some of the measures that are out there for help–like AA–they are for everyone. But thankfully it has worked for some, where they couldn’t have done it alone. Everyone is different. Take weight loss–some people thrive in a place like weight watchers–they need the group setting, the conversation, the accountability. Others, decide they are going to get control of their eating and just do it. Now I realize addiction to drugs is far more harmful, but it’s the same idea that different thing work for different people. And no one way is right or wrong. BUT, the way we handle mental health issues and addiction in this country is an under resources and misunderstood area. If more were invested in it, people might have more options to seek help.
    Your post deserves to be heard and anybody who gets pissed off, well, so be it.
    xxoo

    Like

    • Terri-Lynne DeFino

      It’s got to be frustrating for law enforcement who probably know better than to believe any of this stuff actually helps. If they’re going to be required to speak in schools and head up the DARE program, revamp it so it actually helps! Catering to panicking parents is never, EVER going to get anything meaningful done.

      Thanks, love. XX

      Liked by 1 person

    • Terri-Lynne DeFino

      PS–the biggest problem I have with AA is that it advocates fear as a teaching tool. Effective in the short term, not so much long term. When you’re “one drink away from failure,” and constantly on the edge of that fear, it wears on you. I won’t go into that rant. There are many good things about AA. Those good things get so bogged down in politics and social drek, it too often fails those it’s mean to help.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Carol Lovekin

    Brava! xXx

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Peter Hertel

    If “Security Theatre” yields “little or nothing”, I don’t believe AA falls in to that definition with an alleged one in three success rate. AA is there for people who want to stop drinking. Many people try AA because it is available and free. It is above all a support group where one can share their journey with others who want to stop drinking. It asks for no money and it has only one agenda. Courts and rehab often suggest or demand that AA be part of an after care program, but that doesn’t give AA any additional responsibility. It is a program for drunks, run by drunks who want to be and stay sober, nothing more, nothing less. And while it doesn’t work for everyone, it has worked for thousands. And there’s no reason to expect that charging $1,000 or more a day for a rehab based on the AA program will yield any better results.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Terri-Lynne DeFino

      Thanks for speaking up, Peter. It’s what I was hoping for. Discussion.

      One’s success in AA depends upon a certain mindset, a certain set of beliefs. For those outside of that mindset and set of beliefs, it’s a whole lot of pretending. Almost all rehab programs, and all those state mandated ones, are set up as 12 step. When a court demands participation in the program, it’s security theater, because only 1:3 are going to respond. For that one person, fabulous. I know many, MANY people who have stayed the course, embraced it with all their hearts, and found peace. I’ve just known more people it did not work for.

      Then there are those for whom AA works for many, many years and then–seemingly all of a sudden–they’re using/drinking again. Why? Because the underlying issue that caused the addiction to begin with was never addressed. It lurks out of sight, then gets triggered by on-going stress or a single catastrophic event, and boom. Down they go. That, IMO, is the danger of AA. Many will attend as well as get the psychiatric treatment necessary to uncover and address those internal issues. Most cling to the ‘safety’ of AA and never know there’s something waiting to pounce.

      And let’s be clear–I don’t advocate rehab centers, whether state run or private. They, too, have potential for good, but the cost makes it prohibitive, and the methods just aren’t working for far too many.

      I wish I had answers. All I know, is that they’re still to be had, to be found, but not as long as the population continues to cling to what they only BELIEVE works. Again, thanks for commenting. I respect your opinion.

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    • Terri-Lynne DeFino

      Thanks for speaking up, Peter. It’s what I was hoping for. Discussion.

      One’s success in AA depends upon a certain mindset, a certain set of beliefs. For those outside of that mindset and set of beliefs, it’s a whole lot of pretending. Almost all rehab programs, and all those state mandated ones, are set up as 12 step. When a court demands participation in the program, it’s security theater, because only 1:3 are going to respond. For that one person, fabulous. I know many, MANY people who have stayed the course, embraced it with all their hearts, and found peace. I’ve just known more people it did not work for.

      Then there are those for whom AA works for many, many years and then–seemingly all of a sudden–they’re using/drinking again. Why? Because the underlying issue that caused the addiction to begin with was never addressed. It lurks out of sight, then gets triggered by on-going stress or a single catastrophic event, and boom. Down they go. That, IMO, is the danger of AA. Many will attend as well as get the psychiatric treatment necessary to uncover and address those internal issues. Most cling to the ‘safety’ of AA and never know there’s something waiting to pounce.

      And let’s be clear–I don’t advocate rehab centers, whether state run or private. They, too, have potential for good, but the cost makes it prohibitive, and the methods just aren’t working for far too many.

      I wish I had answers. All I know, is that they’re still to be had, to be found, but not as long as the population continues to cling to what they only BELIEVE works. Again, thanks for commenting. I respect your opinion.

      Like

  6. Not to make light of this, but when I see Terri posting something about pissing people off, I know I have to read it!
    In a sense we are all addicted to something, and the thing we’re most addicted to is the idea of security. The idea that somehow we can control what life presents us. And then we grasp to whatever illusion we can to feel safe, trying to avoid the terror of loss of control. Each of us does this in our own way whether it’s drugs or food or ideology or pretty much anything we get stuck on. Some of us hold on tight and get pissed off when our illusion is poked, some of us see that there is no safety net but stay in the fear of it, and some of us just let go.

    In my experience it is when we let go of all handholds, peek behind the curtain and become curious about the enormity of life and what we are that we can begin to really fully live life just as it is. Hands off, screaming yelling enjoying the great roller coaster ride–feeling all of it. No safety, no security, yet rediscovering the fullness of unconditional love–the very substance of us, of the life force that illuminates us all.
    My love and respect to you, Terri, for being so truthful with your own journey. You are doing immense good work for yourself and for all of us. ❤

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    • Terri-Lynne DeFino

      🙂 You made me laugh.

      Exactly how I feel, Lorraine. Holding onto the fear, and the ways we combat it are a necessary part of the journey. It was part of mine. The blanket fixes are never going to work, because we are all different. Thank goodness. There is still so much we don’t know, so much to discover. Clinging to these largely unsuccessful fixes because we don’t know what else to do is the worst kind of defeatism there is.

      Thank you, as always, for your beautiful insight.

      Like

      • Tom W.

        AA has worked for me for the past 22 years, 9 months and 12 days because I work the program. I have a disease called alcoholism. I believe it is genetic. I just have it. It’s not my or any body’s fault. Nothing caused it. But I know I have it. Because all of my past behavior,and some current, sure smells like alcoholism. I did not want to get sober, nor did I believe I had a problem, when I got sober. It wasn’t my idea. (Here is the hard part) It was GOD’s idea, GOD’s plan and I was lucky enough to surrender to it. As a result of doing the first eleven steps, I had a spiritual awakening. And because of that and reliance on GOD instead of me or anything or anybody else, I have been clean and sober ever since. But my disease is cunning and baffling and powerful. And patient. I am not cured, but o ly have a dayly reprieve from this mental and physical illness,which whispers to me at times that I am cured and don’t have a disease and can drink or use like ordinary men. But I know in my heart that I am not an ordinary person. I am an alcoholic, my name is Tom, and there is a GOD in my life that keeps me safe from all harm. That is the message we all carry. It is not fear mongering, it is the truth and seriousness of this diease. Before 1935 there was jails, institutions and death for us drunk/druggies. Thank GOD there is now AA as well. I am sorry your son was unable to completely give himself to this simple program. But make no mistake, AA works for anyone who is open honest and willing to do it. It works for this drunk today. Tha k you for letting me share.

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      • Terri-Lynne DeFino

        Tom, thank you so much for your comment. It makes me happy, for you and for your family, that you’ve made it through so many years without sliding back down that hole. You are one of those with the mindset necessary to success in the AA program. You are able to give it over to God. But what about those who can’t? Who don’t believe in God at all, or in the way necessary to make the AA program work?
        This is where I have my biggest problem–that after 22 years, 9 months, and 12 days, you still count them so precisely. It concerns me that you still hear those whispers, that you are one stumble, always, from tumbling headlong back into the world you escaped. That’s why I want everyone, no matter what form of recovery they find works for them, to dig deeper. To find the reason behind the whispering. AA, medication, whatever is helping, is helping only the symptom. The most emergent symptom. But what is the cause? For some, perhaps like you, a reason isn’t necessary. Maintaining control of the symptom indefinitely is enough. For others, it’s not. It’s just not.
        You are a strong man to hold it together so long, and to continue doing so. Stay tough, Tom. Again, thanks for speaking up.

        Like

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