As I was watching Intervention this week-end, Jeff VanVonderen popped off an absolutely brilliant explanation of why a lot of addicts don’t get better: Everyone around wants to help, but instead, ends up enabling their bad behavior:
What I am telling you today is that your health is the most important thing. You have to be well whether she ever gets well or not. As soon as Tiffany’s problem becomes Tiffany’s problem, then the odds are going to go up that she’ll get better. Because right now, she gets to have the problem and you get to have the pain and the consequences and everybody’s scratching their head, wondering why she doesn’t get better. The truth is, she doesn’t have to get better. Starting today she does.
Know what’s funny? This is the same thing our government does all the time.
People have personal problems which are sometimes the result of bad luck, sometimes as a result of their own behavior, and we make them everybody else’s problem.
Get fired from your job? We’ll give you two years’ worth of unemployment insurance. Cheat on your spouse and ruin your marriage? We’ll still let you have a no-fault divorce. Didn’t save any money for your retirement? We’ll pay out Social Security anyway. Have a kid out of wedlock? Have some food stamps, welfare, and subsidized housing. Did you hurt yourself misusing a product? Sue ‘em for damages. Did you make products that you can’t sell at a profit? Enjoy the government subsidy. Run your company into the ground? Have a bailout! It just goes on and on and on.
Moreover, when you point it out how this works, what happens?