Jacob Lawrence, "Two People in a Bar" (1941)
Jacob Lawrence, Two People in a Bar (1941)
Can a Game Be Literature?

Mark's Pages

Dr. Google informs me that addiction specialists in Europe assign a drug called Naltrexone as treatment for alcoholism.

It's an opioid antagonist which stops the brain's neuroreceptors from processing endorphin. The addict can drink all she wants, but, she won't enjoy it.

At first blush that sounds astonishingly promising. In reality the problem will be to convince her to swallow her pill. In my first flush of excitement I don't think of that. Instead an enormous wave of relief washes over me like a shower of pure gratitude. There's something that will help!

Many days and very many phone calls are required to locate an addiction psychiatrist willing to prescribe. At this moment, Naltrexone is simply not well known in the U.S. We drive several towns over to a small office in an out-of-the-way office park beneath old eucalyptus. The building is dark, the office is dark, she's an odd and off-putting person, but that's not important. There's help available and we're getting it.

In the pharmacy I'm in tears. I'm so deeply emotionally grateful that someone somewhere somehow has offered something that could conceivably help. My poor suffering addict love is profoundly moved by that. Not just the depth of my emotion. Also my loyalty. And the effort I've expended in making this happen. Our hug in that moment is a gesture of camaraderie and soul-deep acceptance. We're in this together.

I don't mention the selfish part. That with her sober perhaps my stress levels will settle down. The idea of nights that are not filled by someone determined to murder me feels dreamlike.

Nor do I mention the codependence. That I'm taking responsibility for another person's sobriety. I don't understand that yet. It'll be a while still before I wrap my head around the concept.

She's amazed, that first night. "I don't want this," she says, after chugging her first gulps of vodka. Looking at the bottle in pure wonder.

She's sober that night, and the night after. On the third night she discovers that she can defeat the Naltrexone by chugging a full pint of 80 proof as rapidly as possible. On the fourth night she loses the prescription bottle, which means, with undeniable certainty, she flushes it down the loo.

There's no magic bullet. It just doesn't work that way.