Thursday, February 23, 2006

Brainwashing, Peeing On Demand, and Other Indignities

Some time ago I got crosswise with a couple of musclebound asshats with badges from the Shelby County Sheriff's Office, No Fun Allowed Division. I was charged with possession of a whopping three grams of that deadliest of drugs, marijuana, and I spent thirty days in an orange jumpsuit at the Columbiana Spa and Resort. During this time I annoyed my fellow inmates with my snoring, developed a taste for beans, and was frequently forced to defend my Jell-O (unless it was lime -- then I traded it for Snickers bars). In addition, I paid a hefty fine. You'd think that would be it, right?


Part of my sentence was to undergo counseling and drug testing. I was also mandated to attend 36 AA/NA meetings. "Counseling" consists of sitting around in an uncomfortable circle with a group of men and women whose lives have fallen into various states of disrepair. Each session is an exercise in futility, as we try and repeatedly fail to convince the group moderator that we're all better now, having found Jeebus and admitted we were powerless over [insert something fun here].

Being neither powerless, nor addicted, nor enamored of Jeebus, I am not proving to be the most compliant group member. From what I've gathered so far, the line for expressing one's feelings honestly and openly (which we are repeatedly encouraged to do by our Care Bear Inquisitors) ends well before "this is Kafkaesque bullshit" and "how can the state legally make me attend quasi-Christian cult meetings?"

Of course, I am simply in denial, because I wouldn't be there if I didn't have a drug problem, right? Actually, I wouldn't be there if Alabama's drug laws weren't so draconian and the Shelby County Narcotics Division hadn't needed to justify their existence that week. I wouldn't be there if I hadn't treated the narcs as human beings, instead of the soulless tools of state oppression that they really are. In a county AWASH in OxyContin, methamphetamine, child abuse, alcoholism, and property crime, it was considered a valid use of resources to send two agents to my house to bust me with three grams of weed. Christ on a fucking crutch.

Yes, I broke the law. I did my time, I paid my fine, I learned my lesson. But that's not enough. Now I have to suffer through this Orwellian nightmare twice a week, attend cult meetings with booze-addled losers, and check in once a month with the county referral officer to make sure I'm not out peddling smack to the local middle school.

Enough for now. It's almost morning and I haven't slept yet, and I have to be fresh as a daisy at ten-thirty when the next brainwashing session starts. Oh, and I must remember to bring twenty bucks for the privilege of having my privacy violated and my personhood demeaned so they can watch me pee. If you're reading this, guys, I'm telling you now -- it's clean. I'm a good little monkey. Can I go home now?


Anonymous said...


Bitter Old Punk said...

Yeah, no shit, "ouch".

GreginOz said...

My dick, Jesus' ass, there's gonna be a 2nd Kumming. Ever read that Matt Taibbi (Rolling Stone/ eXile et al)article "Jesus can suck my dick"? Last time I got busted for pot in Australia, it was a $200 fine! I would have to vomit, sitting with a bunch of losers whilst The State rants at me...oh wait, I had to that for 6 nights at a Traffic Offenders course. Sitting with a bunch of drunks coz I got caught doing 145 Kilometres (90 mph)an hour, in a 70 kms (45mph) zone, around a hairpin, on a superbike (heh heh.) Try E instead, it breaks down quicker:-)

Mr. X said...

Your mileage may vary, but I know that Virginia allows one to attend SMART Recovery if you have an objection to all the Jeebus talk in AA/NA.

Doesn't affect the underlying monkey dance, but might make it less annoying.

Yours truly,
Mr. X

...good luck...

Anonymous said...

There's a lot of evidence that addiction, outside of the specific physical cravings (of things like cocaine and heroin), simply doesn't exist. There's a lot of evidence that we've created a "disease" that is simply the cumulative bad choices of a lifetime.

I should know. I got busted for a DUI in 2002. Now, I don't excuse myself for what I did: it was wrong, it was stupid, it was selfish. I could have killed someone in my thoughtlessness, and it's entirely right that I should suffer some consequences for that.

That being said, I paid lots of fines, am on probation till 2007, and other unfun stuff including jail time (fortunately I neither hurt anyone nor damaged anyone else's property).

But adding the insult to injury was all this "treatment" crap. Unless I went in and cried on someone's arm and told them what a pathetic loser I was and how my life was hopeless because of alcohol (gimme a break) and how I was "powerless" over booze, they'd very likely throw me in the pokey for a year. Now, I'm all in favor of repercussions for DUI, and maybe a year for a non-injury DUI is fair. Maybe not.

But the point is that all this brainwashing crap is ridiculous. I don't have a problem besides stupidity, and I've remedied that by never, ever, ever even thinking of having a beer when I know I'll have to drive. If there's even a possibility that I'll have a beer, I take a cab or get someone else to drive. And, contrary to the death and destruction message I got at these ridiculous "treatment" meetings, my drinking hasn't spiraled out of control. I have maybe one beer every 3-4 weeks. Among other things, I'm not paranoid as shit about the legal repercussions of alcohol (maybe rightly so).

So I can totally empathize with you. There should be repercussions for breaking the law; that's how it works. But this brainwashing 12-step crap is for the birds. Punish us -- jail us, fine us, whatever -- and leave it at that. Don't try to turn us into little 12-stepping zombies.

Oh, and BOP, keep in mind that a lot of the alcohol-addled losers that you're mentioning were probably just playing the game. I had a lot of talks with fellow "treatment" members, and they all admit to doing the same thing: over-emphasizing their problems and coming up with stuff that would make the group moderator happy that he was really "healing" them.

Talk about a god complex...

chaseng said...

The Soviet Union believed their dissidents were mentally ill ("They must be crazy or they'd not resist"), send them to mental hospitals where Soviet agents would pretend to treat them. The dissidents then would pretend to be well so they could go home, then lower their profile to avoid attracting the attention of the State again. Same thing as now for most of our pot smokers.

Bitter Old Punk said...

Plus in most states those with a felony record have been stripped of their right to vote.

This post was a light-hearted look at one of the BETTER aspects of our criminal justice system: diversionary programs that try to keep non-violent drug offenders out of prison. That they suck at it is no surprise, and that pot smokers get swept up in it like dolphins in tuna nets is a damned shame.

But the US has 5% of the world's population and 20% of its prisoners. Court-referral programs are laudable, as far as they go, but it seems to me that they add another layer of bureaucracy that must be fed (ie, your tax dollars at work) and they result in the kind of masquerade chaseng describes above.

What we need is serious and far-reaching drug policy reform, but police departments are addicted to the SWAT teams and state and local governments are addicted to the grant money and politicians are addicted to the pork barrel that this war on drugs has become.

And we're enabling them by not demanding that they change. It's the policymakers that need an intervention, not the potheads!