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The 15% Solution

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 13, 2010 by dredslack

“Did you see that Keith Richard has a new book out?” I asked my old shrink buddy Simon. “I didn’t know he had an old one” he replied, before tacking a bite out of a fish taco that looked so good I wished I was back in California. I deftly retorted “Wise ass” and completed my lunch chat revenge by adding a few head bobs so his screen would freeze up … he hates that.

After pretending not to notice my coo Simon replied, “When I was a kid I thought he was always knocking on deaths door, but it doesn’t surprise me anymore.” “Why’s that”, I asked. “Well….” he said hesitating, as he exaggeratedly enjoyed his taco as pay back for my head bobs, (we enjoy a bit of repartee and it often veers into the sophmoronic). “I’ve had a number of long term clients who’ve used all types of drugs and haven’t crashed and burned at all, some have been using steadily for over 20 years”. “Including heroin?” I queried. “No not heroin, but everything else; coke, weed, booze, e, pills, you name it and without more consequences than the occasional hangover or waking up in the wrong bed”. I expressed some skepticism but Simon brushed it aside. “Ed, I understand your perspective and I think most people share your sentiments but, I’ve had the chance to have people who’ve used drugs all their lives open up about because of the confidential nature of our relationship. You’re not going to attract this type of client because you’re the guy people go to when they want to get off drugs. With that rep I doubt you’re going to have people who see you for other reasons open up about that part of their lives, if it’s there. I’d wager, and this is a conservative figure, that 15% of the population doesn’t need any protection from drugs at all, even hard drugs; they simply have a low propensity towards addictive behavior. Keith Richards is just one of many but when he opens about it everyone regards him as a special case because of his musical genius, pretty much everyone else in that position has to stay quiet about it”.

At first I thought dear old Simon was messing with me as part of our light hearted competition, but he seemed genuinely sincere. “OK, I’ll bite, why do they have to be quiet about it? Not that everybody is really, there are a lot of pro-pot people, Woody Harrelson, Snoop Dog, and y’all even have a governor who’s arrogantly smoked a joint on film”. “I’m not taking about just weed; you don’t see any pro-blow celebrities do you? All you hear about are the Lindsey Lohans and Charlie Sheens, the out of control stuff, nobodies stumping for the legalization of e or mushrooms are they? There’s a number of reasons people who get away with using harder drugs don’t talk about it but the main one is that if only 15% (or so) can do it, the other 85% (or so) can get into a lot of trouble trying to do something that they just can’t. It’s easier for them to believe that it’s all bad rather than admit they don’t have the capacity to make it work”.

I could tell Simon was winding up for one of his big lectures and because they’re usually pretty entertaining, I got out of the critical path. “Let me tell you a story about a client of mine. He was an A- actor who played a cop in an 80’s TV show. He came to see me for depression and marital problems about 20 years ago, when his career was winding down. We got through the issues just fine and he decided he liked bouncing things off me so he continued seeing me, on a bi-weekly basis. He liked his coke and occasionally a bit of everything else and never had a problem with it. His wife drank a bit but didn’t do any other drugs. She didn’t care if he did as long as long as it didn’t cause problems and he didn’t mess around with other women, without her participation. A few years back when they were going to a costume party at Halloween, they were pulled over by the police and told to get out of their car at gun point. My client loves flashy cars and was driving a blinged out Escalade similar to one that was recently involved in something nefarious in the general area. He was dressed up as the Devil so the cops didn’t believe him when he told them who he was. They went over the car with a fine tooth comb and came up finding five grams of blow”.

“Luckily the paparazzi didn’t get involved; he’s a bit under the radar these days. He posted bail and all that and everything was kept quiet. He actually got some pretty special treatment, kind of like he was a real cop. The DA offered his lawyer a deal where my client would get probation if he did a 30 day rehab and some community service work speaking out about the evils of drugs. His lawyer found it to be a sweet deal, and it was, but my client was having none of it. He’s a very religious guy and from his perspective his religion prohibited him from falsely representing himself by pretending to be a problem ridden addict. Personally I think his pride had more to do with it, but he was firm about it. He had his lawyer tell the DA that if he went to trial his defense was going to cite his history of long functional drug use and attack the validity of drug laws all the way back to the Harrison act of 1914. He even went on about how his constitutional right to the pursuit of happiness was being impinged upon. Even though his lawyer thought he was nuts, the DA relented and gave him the deal of a suspended sentence, a fine and an admonishment to keep quiet. His lawyer couldn’t believe it.”

“Well, that’s a hell of a story Simon but what does it have to do with not speaking out?”
“If you look at the evidence as it’s presented I think it’s pretty clear my dear fellow”, he said, in a Basil Rathbonesque Sherlock Holmes impression. “The DA relented because he didn’t want to have a successful and respected member of the community, who has never gotten into the least bit of trouble, come out and say they’ve used hard drugs their whole adult life and have never suffered the least ill effect. It would open too big a can of worms, one that might be hard to close again. It doesn’t have the Hollywood code type ending where the good guy always wins, extra-marital sex always leads to disaster and drug use will always ruin your life”.

He was ramping up to the crescendo now, so he stood up, adjusting the skype cam to compensate. Thrusting a righteous finger in the air he said, in an impressive impresario voice, “It’s elementary my dear Dr. Slack. The 15% who ‘can’ keep quiet to insure the health and safety of the 85% that ‘can’t’. It’s the 15% solution!”

I had to applaud, if he was right or not, it was a fine performance.

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