It is better to be an outcast, a stranger in one’s own country, than an outcast from one’s self. It is better to see what is about to befall us and to resist than to retreat into the fantasies embraced by a nation of the blind.
Chris Hedges

Sunday, September 14, 2008


At 20, it is difficult to predict where life will take Millie Elder-Holmes. Arrested last week, along with the kick-boxing son of a patched Headhunters member, she was charged with possession with intent to distribute. Less than a year ago, Millie stood in front of me in a lineup for lunch, at an Auckland Rehab facility. At the time I thought, 'tall, pretty, young lady.' I never saw her again, but heard she had discounted that place as the right place for her. Given its reputation as a no-nonsense facility - it was not surprising. There was no place to hide inside its environs. You were there to get well and the clinical staff did not broker any crap.
A pity she didn't take the opportunity. The literature on addiction promises this: "Institutions, jails, and death" for those who continue on the path of addiction... the only alternative is abstention. Rehab for teens is a one-in-a-thousand roll of the dice; their bullet-proof mentality coupled with the denial that feeds their use is a tough combination to beat. Even when one has lost everything and capitulates to a solid recovery programme, the odds are closer to a hundred-to-one for any long term sobriety. It doesn't look good for this young woman.
Being associated with the Headhunters will keep her safe in jail, but the other side of the coin is she will need to keep that association to survive, a prospect that bodes ill for any recovery from drugs. I'd like to see her committed to a serious residential rehabilitation programme, and the best would be Higher Ground in Auckland. But like I say, they do not tolerate behavioural issues beyond the first 40 days and it would be difficult for someone used to the limelight, to submit to being 'just another addict'. The other option would be Odyssey House, an 18-month programme that focuses on behavioural stuff. That might work although her presence would turn a community of others trying to recover in turmoil, I expect. If money were no object, the best option would be to send her to a tough programme somewhere in the US. There, she could be truly anonymous - nobody would know who she is - or care. If she were my daughter and I could afford it, that's what I would do.
Hope springs eternal, but hearts are broken all the time for addicts and their families.

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