© 2011 Peter Ferentzy PhD Crackhead
On this 11th day of April, 2011, the Action Faction is just an idea –- but an idea with history on its side. We will prevail. This is our charter.
Drug addiction is, first and foremost, not a moral issue, a public health issue, or a recovery issue. Of course it is all of those things –- but above all it is a political issue. Like gays, blacks and others, drug addicts need a political center. We need to back each other. We need to organize. Time was, few would have thought that gays could do it, but they did. We can! And we must: drug addicts are the only group said to benefit from degradation, suffering, rape and worse –- “hitting bottom” is what it’s usually called. This one lie has been used to justify most any type of tragedy that might befall a drug addict.
What follows are the goals and precepts that unite us. Likeminded souls who do not consider themselves addicts are welcome to join. The points below are not negotiable – they are the foundation of the Action Faction. Today we are a faction, meaning that our goals are inconsistent with mainstream opinion. This can change, will change, and the following precepts will be our guide.
1. For too long, persons addicted to various substances have been said to require suffering and degradation in order to become acceptable members of society. While there are many ways to critique the governing approach to addiction, it all revolves around the idea that it is good for people like us to suffer any and all forms of degradation. So the ideology of hitting bottom is the jugular. Take that out, and the edifice will collapse.
2. Those who insist that addicts need to “hit bottom” are participating in murder, and on a scale large enough to be designated genocide. No other marginalized group is subject to an explicit call for what can amount to beatings, rapes, infections and deaths –- legal sanction against the mere use of a substance is simply an offshoot of a larger call for our degradation.
3. Drug use and possession for personal use must immediately be decriminalized, with legalization as the final goal. While members of the Faction will disagree on many issues related to policy, on this point we are of one mind.
4. The system by which addicts are stigmatized follows a familiar pattern: those who get out of the underworld and abstain long-term are recruited to put down the rest. We see people in recovery saying things like: "Bitch/asshole hasn't suffered enough -- a few more beatings/infections/heartbreaks might do it." There are strong parallels between how the formerly poor often despise those who still are poor, or persons from marginalized ethnic groups who succeed and integrate might look down at the ones who still live in the ghetto. This scenario has long been key to the oppression of marginal groups, yet the ways it plays out among addicts is understood only by a few. Our goal is to spread the word, educate addicts and others ready to learn, and step up to those who will not learn: We will fight you. We will defeat you –- and history will judge you harshly.
5. Addicts are not the only oppressed group, but they are the only remaining group deemed to benefit from degradation. While “hitting bottom” is the term applied to addicts, the line of thinking is not new. In fact, it is very old. Not long ago children were said to benefit from beatings and insults (spare the rod, spoil the child), wives too (“a beating will set her straight”), blacks (“the boy needs a good whupping”), gays, the mentally ill, the developmentally challenged. While these groups are still often targets, at least the official line has changed. No other group -- ethnic, sexual or other –- is said to require degradation as a means to improvement. The Western Enlightenment project has involved doing away with such attitudes, and we addicts represent something special for this reason. In the modern West’s long and torturous struggle for freedom, dignity, and equity, drug addiction might be the last frontier.
6. While created by and for addicts, The Action Faction will include many like-minded individuals. Yet we will not, for example, accept any addict who tells his fellow addicts that they need to hit bottom. We will not accept any addict with many years clean who looks down at addicts who still use. For that matter, we have little use for successful persons from disadvantaged settings who look down at their former peers. This last point is key, and here we must insist on a profound grasp: while addiction is our focus, there is much more at stake.
7. The Action Faction is not cynical. We know that there is much good in the current system. The recent advances in harm reduction initiatives such as needle exchange and client-centered treatment all speak to the fact that we are moving in the right direction. Society’s approach to handling drug addicts is just starting to emerge from the Dark Ages. History is on our side, and we have enough faith in our fellow men and women to remain confident. Most can be educated, the rest can be defeated.
Time to wake up
Time to get busy
Time to step up
Make ‘em go tizzy © Peter Ferentzy 2010