Former heavyweight boxing champion and perennial troublemaker Mike Tyson always has something interesting to say when he does an interview. However, it’s hard to believe anyone was prepared for what he told shock jock Howard Stern recently. According to Tyson, he and late comedian Robin Williams were linked together through their addictions. Tyson says the two shared the same drug dealer without even knowing it.

Tyson told Stern that the first time he met Williams, the actor and comedian began talking about his dealer. Tyson quickly figured out Williams was referring to the same dealer he used, causing him to realise that in the world of drug addiction ‘everyone knows everybody’ one way or the other.

It is interesting to note that Tyson referred to the dealer in question as ‘this lowlife dealer I know’. His initial surprise at learning Williams was using the same dealer was tempered by the realisation that people addicted to drugs and alcohol will go to great lengths to get their substances, regardless of who they have to deal with or what they have to do.

When asked whether Williams’ August suicide had any impact on him, Tyson responded in the positive. Between Williams and late actor Philip Seymour Hoffman, who committed suicide in February despite 20 years of sobriety, Tyson said he is scared for his own future. He does not see much hope as someone still in recovery.

Missing Something

Reading tragic stories of celebrities such as Robin Williams and Philip Seymour Hoffman naturally cause us to feel bad for the people who struggle so much. By the same token, when many of these same celebrities go through rehab multiple times only to consider themselves mentally ill, as Mike Tyson does, it forces us to ask whether or not we are missing something. Is complete recovery possible, or not?

There are many different approaches used to help people dealing with drug and alcohol addiction. One of the most popular is the 12-step programme developed by Alcoholics Anonymous in the 1930s. That programme is one that combines responsibility to a higher power with responsibility to one’s family and one’s self. Today’s 12-step programmes typically label addiction as a disease that needs to be dealt with for a lifetime.

Alternatively, the SMART philosophy of recovery is one that takes a more pragmatic approach. It does not embraced the idea of disease, nor does it utilise terms such as ‘addict’ or ‘alcoholic’. Instead, it approaches substance abuse and addiction as a problem that can be solved through self-empowerment and scientific, evidence-based strategies.

Which approach is better? There is no easy answer to that question. Nevertheless, perhaps it’s time for us to reconsider whether or not taking the disease approach is really beneficial, regardless of whether one goes through a 12-step programme or something equivalent to SMART recovery. Perhaps telling people they have a disease is counterproductive inasmuch as it extinguishes their belief that complete recovery is even possible. It is similar to telling someone he or she has stage IV cancer. It can be managed, but never cured.

Here at Addiction Helper, we believe it is important to ask the tough questions if we are going to help as many people as possible deal with drug and alcohol addictions. As the recovery community searches for answers to these questions, we will continue providing free services to those in need.

If you or a loved one is currently struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call our 24-hour helpline. Our counsellors are standing by to offer you a listening ear, sound advice, and treatment referrals.

Sources:

  1. Daily Mail – http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2813210/Mike-Tyson-claims-shared-drug-dealer-Robin-Williams.html
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