When Is It Worth the Risk?

check out “american rehab”

Reveal is a podcast from the Center for Investigative Reporting. Until recently the podcast has featured only free-standing, individual episodes. I have found them to be interesting. Often I have been left wanting even more information.

Last Winter and Spring Reveal was slated to offer its first-of-a-kind series but it was delayed until the Summer due to the pandemic. Last week I just finished listening to the eight-episode series American Rehab. It was one of the most compelling podcast series I have ever heard. It was the culmination of a three year investigation into the drug and alcohol rehabilitation movement started by Synanon and its larger, more powerful offshoot Cenikor.

My interest in the topic is both personal and professional. Professionally, my master’s degree is in mental health counseling with a specialty in addictive and compulsive disorder treatment using group therapy modality. Personally, I’ve been through a treatment experience which used some of the same techniques as Synanon and Centikor, hence my interest. My treatment experience was related to a diagnosis of co-dependency, not to alcohol and chemical addiction, as the adult child of an alcoholic. Co-dependency is a common issue for people who grow up in alcoholic and drug addicted families as I did. I’m not revealing any new truth here, by the way. I’ve written extensively about the experience in at least one book I published in the late 1980s, in various trade articles, and in this blog fairly recently.

My treatment experience included something similar to what is decribed in the podcast as the Synanon Game or what has also been called “verbal attack therapy.” To be clear, though, my experience was not as intense as that which is described in the American Rehab podcast, but it was not the most pleasant thing either.

What I found particularly interesting, though, was the last episode, which was finished in the midst of the pandemic. It brought together the Trump administration’s mishandling of the pandemic with America’s opioid epidemic in a most compelling way.

The reason Reveal decided to investigate Synanon and its prodigy in the rehab world because of the sketchy origin of the practices that are still used, including the use of work without pay. You will be surprised by the well-known recovery programs and institutions that use some of the horrific Synanon-inspired practices including work without pay, which is, in fact, a form of slavery. Even more, you will be shocked to learn of several of the major U.S. corporations that get free laborers from Centikor and other Synanon-inspired rehab groups.

On the Reveal website you can find resources from the American Rehab series worthy of a closer look. One is a database of rehab groups around the country that use Synanon inspired strategies, including forced work without pay. You can search by state. I was surprised by what I found in my home state of Iowa.

Even if you are not a podcast fan, I think you will find American Rehab to be one you cannot put down until the end.


when is it worthwhile to risk contracting covid-19?

As the presidential election draws near amid the many voter suppression tactics being undertaken by Trump (denegration of mail-in voting; attempts to further weaken the U.S. postal service; etc.), I have been wondering what to do about voting.

In Maryland we can request an absentee ballot and vote by mail. We also have early voting, from October 22 to October 29, 2020. Our polling place is only a half-mile from where we live. It is in a Senior Center that undoubtedly will be using many protocols to protect people given so many voters there will be older and, therefore, at high risk for contracting COVID-19. So we have options.

Still, the option of in-person voting still has a greater risk. That brings me to my first reflective question: What is my tolerance for risk when it comes to COVID-19? Clemencia and I have been doing a good job of self-isolating since mid-March. Our social life has not suffered much because we stay in touch with people through our work on Zoom and we also meet with friends and family via Zoom regularly. The only thing that has been missing is ballroom dancing. Well, for me, golf too.

There is a second question that follows the tolerance question: Are there any circumstances that would cause me to take the risk of exposure to COVID-19? In fact, there are several. However, they are all circumstances over which I have no control…such as a fire or medical emergency or natural disaster impacting me or a family member.

When it comes to circumstances over which I do have control, there is only one that would compell me to take the risk: If it is the only way I could vote my conscience to preserve a liberal democracy in November. (You may find it interesting to also look up “illiberal democracy,” by the way, because that is what we are dealing with in our country today.)

What about you? What do you feel so strong about that it would move you to risk COVID-19 infection?


with appreciation…

A friend and frequent reader from Hawai`i, Judy Clark, shared some resources from One Shared Future for self-care in the midst of this pandemic. Hawai`i had done a very good job of managing the pandemic in its early stages but now, like many other states, is succumbing to the impact of COVID-19. These resources are well-appreciated in the Islands and I hope those of us on the mainland find them useful was well.

Also, Judy sent me a brief interview she did for a local televions feature, Island Focus. She does a really nice job of articulating the value of nonprofit organizations and youth involvement, especially during this pandemic. If you are a nonprofit leader you may find some her framing useful as well.

Thanks for both of these, Judy!


chickenman – episode 89 – Only 9 Left!

Chickenman is being bested by the Very Diabolical armed with a bowl of lumpy oatmeal.


Stay safe, be well, keep calm, keep washing your hands, keep wearing your mask, and keep striving for justice, peace, and health for all.

Tom

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