Walk Down Misery Street

Unfortunately, sharing with others is no guarantee of success. The fact is that such revelations become routine. It may be difficult to disclose something shameful for the first time and maybe even the second. By the third time, disclosure is a little easier. By the fourth time, you are already used to it.

Such disclosure in and of itself no longer becomes helpful, because you may not be concerned about connecting with painful feelings anymore, but rather with just impressing your audience. How striking it is to stand before everyone and proclaim: “Because of dope, I cheated on my husband with a famous baseball player” or “I sold crack and was shot three times, but by some miracle I survived.” Wow!

Moreover, just as a maestro works on his composition, many drug users often change parts of their confessional stories slightly to sound a little more artful, like writing for a dramatic film or novel. (Writers and screenwriters who lack inspiration and plots could find in any addiction clinic an inexhaustible source of creativity for any genre—from soap operas to action films).

Unlike the other students, Kevin was a man of few words. He responded to questions briefly and without theatrics.

He was an American of Norwegian descent. Clean-shaven, he was always neat in appearance, punctual and polite. He rarely kept the conversation alive. He was a quick study, passing every exam on the first try.

But Kevin’s stubborn unwillingness to answer the question of whether or not he used drugs evoked general irritation and even some anger from the students. They posed this question to Kevin from the first day to the last day of school. Everyone asked him about it—first the students, then even several teachers. Yet Kevin remained enigmatically silent on the matter. If he was answering a question on the board, for example, on pharmacology or some other topic, someone would always take the opportunity to ask him: “C’mon and tell us: Are you in recovery? Did you use?”

Kevin would shrug, with look of regret on his face.

“I can’t answer. Sorry, this is personal,” he would say with a sigh, and everyone in the auditorium would shoot him a dirty look, thinking: