The loss of Mr Philip S Hoffman has shaken me deeply. Not only because he was a marvellous actor who made this world more interesting and worthy of living in it. I can’t imagine what made him relapse after 23 years of being clean. And please, don’t think this state comes out of curiosity; I’m deeply worried. Because his case shows that no matter how long a person has been clean and how orderly their life seems to be, or how successful they are; this illness always finds a way to make them fall.
In the first years of rehab, just staying clean one day is such an achievement that the anonymous motto “just for today” has a full, mystical meaning. However, who lives only in the present? As years go by and rehab really starts working, the addict gains one trait of life which makes him or her feel the first traces of normality: they acknowledge life as more than one day; as a year or couple of years maybe. This lets them do what those not affected by the illness take so naturally: they start making plans, having goals; they start dreaming. And this ordinary living is so rewarding, the addict starts entertaining the idea that maybe they are not as enslaved as they once were. Wrong.
Of course, an addict who is really on rehab and not just sober knows that some things will never ever be for them as with the others. Vigilance is paramount. But after, 10, 15, 23 years! one might think the addict knows themselves well enough, most importantly, they know the illness so well , it would take something really big to make them use again.That’s what I cannot understand.
If it was that big, how didn’t he see it coming. Oh! Most probably he did see it coming, but then, why did he let it come over him? Very probably, the illness made a long, fine, subtle job inside his head and soul until he didn’t have a way out. Again, after 23 years, where were his trained responses to neutralize the siege much before it reached that level of ferocity? He must have had many; otherwise he wouldn’t have been able to stay sober for 23 years.
Then, the ultimate piece of nonsense. The one that makes you wonder how many accomplices this illness can recruit: conscious and unconscious enablers. If a 23-years-sober addict relapses, it is text book they’ll fall hard, hard, hard; with all the force it’s been accumulating through years of thirst. So, how come he spent just 10 days at rehab after his first relapse when it is elementary stuff in the treatment of addictions that an addict must spent at least 90 days clean to reprogram the basics responses in their brain ?Why do you think Anonymous programs give tokens for clean time more often the first 90 days and then, they jump to 6 months? Wasn’t Corey Monteith’s case enough? Of course, I don’t know the details and never will. Most probably he was warned and, painful enough, he KNEW and couldn’t help it
I’m absolutely stricken by the fact that this illness is so powerful and relentless. Eternal, nasty and so cruel. It seems no addict is ever safe, ever free of the doom and that is sad and exhausting.