Heather Cook, an Episcopalian suffragan bishop in Maryland, has been in the news lately. A few weeks ago, she was involved in a vehicular homicide, and currently faces charges including vehicular manslaughter, driving while intoxicated, texting while driving, and leaving the scene of an accident.
Thursday 2014-07-03.Jimmy came up to me at McDonald’s yesterday and sat down and talked about the incident. He doesn’t say he’d been drinking. He says people thought he’d been drinking.
Recall his psychiatric diagnoses.
Pastor sent me this clipping about the homeless squatters’ camp underneath the Jones Falls Expressway, which the City was about to raze — again. He thought the housing vouchers it mentions might be available to me. They’re not. A different detail caught my eye: the remark that many people in the camp “struggle with mental illness and addiction.” Note the “and.”
16:01 Saturday 2014-06-28. [Written in the “smoke pit” at the shelter, waiting admission.]
They escorted Jimmy out of here about half an hour ago. He’s always been a milquetoast. Now he was shouting and cursing. “Yeah, I been drinking.” Whatever happened at the desk, he’s barred out now. I owe him $2.
He’s diagnosed with bipolar II disorder and ADHD. I’ve seen him reading books about both of those diseases, but never anything about alcoholism.
With Amy Dickinson’s permission, I am copying here below the whole of her column for today. All three letters touch dramatically on principles I associate with presence, including “Keep the focus on you,” “Mind your own business,” and “Don’t come uninvited.”
To the best of my knowledge, the “disease theory of alcoholism” began with Dr. Robert Silkworth, at the time of St. Thomas Hospital in Akron, Ohio, coincident with the beginnings of A.A. “Dr. Bob” referred to the condition as an “allergy”; for whatever reason, these folks’ bodies respond to this substance differently than others’ do.
This theory and its ramifications are, today, largely taken for granted throughout the scientific world. Whatever the disease’s cause, behavioral strategies are needed, too, if the subject is to manage the disease and live a normal life. The same is just as true of diabetes or near-sightedness or hay fever.
The competing view, that drinking problems reflect sin or some kind of moral deficiency, still has its grip on the popular mind. The predicaments that problem drinkers create for themselves and for others, are bad enough in and of themselves without the added burden of this stigma. My late father insisted until his last lucid day, that it was all a question of “will power.” I remember visiting Mom at home sometime prior to 1990, and finding on the bookshelf different books by Hazen G. Werner, an Ohio Methodist bishop whom my father fervently admired, and finding certain passages that my father had marked wherein the author discounted the disease theory and blamed it all instead on, as it were, sin. I shook my head at the untold, needless damage such words do. Continue reading Alcoholism basics→
The article is extremely technical, but makes clear in no uncertain terms that Delta FosB is the genetic risk factor for addiction. All addicts have it, regardless whether the addiction is chemical or behavioral.
It also helps me understand how, without having been born with the specific genes for alcoholism, they came to be present for me in middle age; how, after decades of consuming alcohol no differently than any normal person, I abruptly became a “drunk” at about age 32.