Disclosure: This post appears in slightly different form on a private social media page.
Most of us know decent people who have abused drugs. Some of those people have done inexcusable things when they’re under the influence or desperate for a fix, though. Relationships are ruined, and in the most extreme situations someone gets killed.
That said, I hope our society in general will seek answers other than prison. We can’t excuse a parent who allows a dealer to rape his or her child, and that probably happens more often than we hear. In those cases, the child can’t feel safe unless the addicted parent is behind bars (if the kid feels safe even then). Prison will always have a place in reacting to human tragedy, and we can’t change that.
There are also times when an addict — such as an alcoholic or drug abuser committing DUI — causes an accident which shortens or changes lives. I won’t argue against prison in those cases because our sympathy should be with bystanders who are killed, maimed and traumatized.
Cameron Douglas was given special privileges by the courts before he was finally sentenced to prison. He was allowed more chances than a defendant with lower status. It’s also possible his family’s clout was instrumental in securing an early release.
Still, what Mr. Douglas and his family went through served no good purpose. He is not more likely to be able to deal with his addiction now as a result of serving time, and it’s worth noting that drugs were not kept out of his reach while he was incarcerated. Those are among the many disadvantages he has in common with other addicts.
It can take years or decades for an addicted person to find the right treatment and maintain a healthy routine. Rehab programs vary in quality, and there’s a matter of each person finding the right fit in a program. Some people don’t respond to treatment until they’re in the final (near death) stages of their addictions. Obviously, some don’t survive.
We’ll never have ideal answers. However, making treatment a higher priority than punishment will help more people and make the world generally safer.
For perspective, read Mary Tyler Moore’s first memoir, titled After All. The book contains many details which go against her past public image, but you may be especially shocked by the reckless (rage) driving accounts. If the worst had happened and she had killed someone, how would her fans have reacted? The reactions would have fallen on every point of the spectrum, but I’m guessing most people unacquainted with the deceased person would have wanted to give “Our Mary” a break.
Mary Tyler Moore doesn’t call herself special. Her personal issues have been similar to a lot of people’s. She was bullied as a child. As an adult, she has been diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes, cared for a terminally ill sibling, suffered a miscarriage, divorced twice and mourned the death of her adult son. Although Richard Meeker’s passing and some of Ms. Moore’s other misfortunes were common knowledge for years, most people still thought of her as an ingenue when she had actually seen quite a bit.
Mary Tyler Moore also used to be a drinking alcoholic — a mean drunk, by her own admission. I believe it was a few years after her son’s death when she checked into the Betty Ford Center, and her publicist told reporters that she wasn’t really an alcoholic. She made a public admission herself after completing the program.
Mary Tyler Moore has done a lot to educate the public. She spoke publicly about Diabetes way before disclosing some of her other challenges. The movie Ordinary People surprised some people because they’d never thought of her as a serious actress, and it earned new respect for her talent. Her first memoir may have turned off some judgmental types, but it also demonstrated that a functional, generally appealing person can have a messy life.
But I digress. I won’t delete anything, though. It’s all related in some way.
The real world is what it is. We should change what we can, and one way or another tolerate the rest. In any case, we must think carefully before blasting forth with opinions, and admit what we don’t know. Even people who are preoccupied with celebrities should be able to grasp that by now.