So where does Monteith fit in here? After all, he had it all: money, fame and an adoring public. Agreed, he certainly does not seem to fit the addict model, but we know that poverty and hopelessness comes in many forms. Many years ago the sociologist Durkheim showed that there was a high rate of suicide among people who seemed to be very successful. In explaining this apparent anomaly he coined the phrase "anomie" to account for the no-man’s land that successful people can find themselves. This is a place where they are no longer comfortable with old friends (who may be jealous of their success) and new friends (who use them for their own ends). So, the anomie they experience is a poverty of the spirit.
How do we inject hope into our society? I wish I could say read on and this article will provide all the answers. It won’t because we (John and Lou) don’t have them all. What we do have are lots of questions that will help start the conversation. Here are some of them:
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Why do we persist with policies that don’t work? Why don’t our politicians address the root causes of addiction? And it isn't just politicians; society itself does not truly help. Why do we reduce hope further still by continuing to spread the myth that "you cannot help an addict until they are ready to change"? If this really is true, we might as well close all treatment centres, as they are wasting their time. However, this myth flies in the face of all the research and treatment practices of the last 30 years. If you live with an addict and have been trying for years unsuccessfully to get them to change, you might say it is not a myth at all. "You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink."
While we agree to some extent, the point that we make continually is that "you can gallop the horse and make him thirsty." What that means is that maybe we can’t actually make someone change, but we can most certainly exert a powerful influence that will make them much more likely to change. We need to teach people the correct way to help their loved ones and friends; to show them that interventions, planned and skilfully applied, are much more powerful and successful than random confrontations. That is what we do in Bottled Up.
We want to end this article with one suggestion, one we hope that Monteith would have liked. If you live with an addict or have a friend that is showing signs of alcoholism or addictive behaviour, don't ignore them. Make a resolution to say to them every day for a week, "I love you but I’m scared. I don't want to lose you." If it saves just one person, then that is the most fitting epitaph for Cory Monteith; to be remembered as an agent for recovery rather than as an addict.
Goodbye Cory. We hope you have found peace, and a place in a new and even better choir.
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For more information about Bottled Up and influencing an addict come and see us at Bottled Up.