If it wasn’t rational, cont’d


All right, last one.

This time, Sally Satel makes the case that recovery comes down to choice and “grit and conviction.”

It’s not just American Enterprise Institute fellows who make these arguments. I’ve heard people in recovery say to other AA members in relapse, “You need to make a decision!”

Of course, the relapser has made the decision to recover many times. Lack of decisions/choices to recover is not our problem.

My response to these kinds of statements is usually something like, “If it just comes down to a choice, why don’t we party this weekend and just make a decision on Monday to recover?”

Of course, these people know that they, too, might find themselves unable to follow through on that choice. Ever. In their gut, they know recovery not something you can earn or simply choose to do. If it was, they would have recovered much sooner to avoid years of agony and loss. Or, they could have postponed recovering a little longer.

To make her case, she points to one of my favorite cohorts–addicted doctors.

When at risk of losing their licenses, addicted physicians show impressive rates of recovery. When they come under the surveillance of their state medical boards and are subject to random urine testing, unannounced workplace visits, and frequent employer evaluations, 70 to 90 percent are employed with their licenses intact five years later.

Of course, there’s a little more to the story. Addicted doctors get a lot more than monitoring and the threat of losing their license. They also get high intensity, long term treatment and long term recovery support.

Of course (I’m sick of reading myself say that!), there are some truths in what these people say, but their blindness to so many other truths makes it difficult to take them too seriously.

2 thoughts on “If it wasn’t rational, cont’d

  1. “Lack of decisions/choices to recover is not our problem”

    Very nicely put. And I would add, neither is lack of grit or conviction. The idea that choice is a switch (you have it or you don’t) is convenient but wrong. I think it’s a linear scale, along which we ebb and flow. Choices get easier when we surround ourselves with recovering people.

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