Preying On Addicts

I saw something the other day that got me thinking about just how cruel people can be to each other. Probably not the most uplifting topic …

Without being too specific, the situation was an older couple, retired and living on benefits where one partner was (I assume) an alcoholic and the other was taking advantage by supporting the addiction. If this seems like a shoot-from-the-hip judgment, well, it is. The woman in the household provided booze and some care, but managed all the finances to her own advantage. She pretty much lives the life she chooses and is quite social, active in church and so on. The husband is dying the slow death of liver failure and has no control over the finances or other authority. He is occasionally dumped in the hospital for short periods or checked into a nursing facility when the wife goes on trips.

OK, so I don’t actually know the pain she suffered to get to this point. I am being unfair to make a larger point.

The larger point is something I have run into online at addiction forums. Someone will post a “cure-all” that they claim helped them or a family member kick an addiction and either lay out their own philosophy/spiritual quest or link to a “program.” I put program in quotes because these things usually turn out to be a book or sale or something that extracts money from the vulnerable.

That last part is what irritates my inner cynic. They way that addiction treatment is sometimes sold in as corrupt a manner as diet pills. I have no beef with someone sharing something that worked for them. That’s not what I’m talking about. What irks is when a product is being sold to those who are desperate for help from any quarter. I think that’s more than cruel, it’s evil.

I recall an allegation of a religious group offering facilities and free meetings just to have a shot at recruiting and extracting money from the addict population. I won’t cite the specifics but you’ll find a lot about Narconon online if you look.

So when does an honest offer of help cross the line into exploitation? I’m not sure. Certainly there is a whole addiction and recovery industry that profits while they aid. I suppose the metric has to be whether there is a real goal that really helps addicts or a fraudulent, nice sounding con. Do I have to pay to play? Are there legitimate licenses for the providers? Do I have to buy a book or a training session before I can find out what’s going on? Are the stats quoted just too good to believe? Any or all of these would be of concern to me.

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