The scene opens with a small, emotional group of family and friends huddling around the struggling alcoholic to perform an intervention – a showdown of sorts – aimed at helping the afflicted change their ways. After an hour, the tears flow, everyone hugs and the alcoholic makes a miraculous recovery. On television, there’s always a happy ending. Ah, if it were only that way in real life.
To the uninitiated, the portrait of the alcoholic or drug addict is unmistakable: the scruffy, unemployed middle-age man sleeping under a bridge with his bottle of Mad Dog 20/20 in a brown, paper sack or the gangly teenager with matted hair, begging for money in front of a crack house.
In reality, nothing could be further from the truth. Addicts tend to be bright, resourceful individuals, often with advanced degrees and positions of power and responsibility, who often come from good homes and families. For some reason – call it fate, if you will – their life took a left turn with the disease of substance abuse. To be sure, medicine now considers addiction a bonafide chronic, medical disease, along with diabetes and cancer.