Two Americas, Addict/New Mom Edition

Two Americas. In one America, we arrest new mothers whose newborns test positive for drugs and charge them with assault (even though in this case, the drug our new mother used is not covered under the law through which she was charged. Weird, that.)

In another America, affluent moms hire “sobriety coaches” to help them stay clean and sober:

Once consigned to Hollywood entourages to keep celebrities on the straight and narrow (and out of rehab), sobriety coaches, also known as sober companions and recovery therapists, are being hired by well-heeled mothers from the Upper East Side to the beachfront homes of Boca Raton, Fla.

Blame the rigors of being an urban mother. “Raising kids is stressful to begin with,” said Mary Karr, the best-selling writer who lives in Greenwich Village, who related her grueling recovery in her 2009 memoir “Lit: A Memoir.” “The new supermoms have to be thin and rich and successful, so there’s all this extra stress,” she said. “It’s loathsome.”

“Addiction is a disease of isolation,” added Ms. Karr, 59, who has a 28-year-old son (she starts “Lit” with an open letter to him). “I would have loved to have someone come over and help me not get drunk.”

It’s not just the extra glasses of pinot or rosé. Cosmopolitan mothers these days are also reaching for Adderall (the multitasker’s best friend), Percocet (the antidote to the taxing trifecta of marriage, children and career) and Ambien (that bedtime staple), not to mention a cocktail of other drugs that high-strung mothers also have at their disposal.

And by the time these mothers realize they need help, they don’t exactly have the time or wherewithal to check into rehab or attend 12-step meetings. In addition, they want more privacy, the better to avoid the judgment and stigma that mothers with addiction face.

It is worth noting that the story of Mallory Loyola appeared in the news section of TV station WBIR. Mary Karr’s story appeared in the “Fashion & Style” section of the Sunday New York Times.

In one America an addicted mom is arrested and charged with assault, held on $2,000 bond, with her picture plastered all over the news. In another America well-heeled moms who “don’t have time” for rehab and 12-step meetings and need to avoid the stigma of drug addiction to preserve their social status hire “sobriety coaches” to hold their hands and tell them it’s okay to be stressed-out about having to be thin and beautiful. Such an impossible standard, who can blame them for reaching for the Percocet now and then? Poor things.

I honestly do not want to hear from another one of these Special Snowflakes who melt under the stress of their privileged lives. If Mallory Loyola has to have her face plastered across the news and now has a criminal record and is charged with assault, then so should Tamara Mellon, Mary Karr, “Jeanne” the anonymous Fortune 500 marketing exec, and all the rest. Alternately, if Jeanne et. al. get the compassion, understanding and personal attention that comes from hiring a coach, then why shouldn’t Mallory Loyola?

Says “Jeanne The Fortune 500 marketing exec”:

“I was my daughter’s age when my dad came out as an alcoholic,” said Jeanne, a marketing executive, who spent her youth going to Alateen, an offshoot of A.A. meetings for teenage family members. “I never thought that would be me,” she said. Rehab was not a viable option. “What working mom can be away for 30 to 60 days?” she added. “And how would I explain it?”

So she hired Natasha Silver Bell, 38, a sobriety coach on the Upper East Side, who is a divorced mother and former addict. Jeanne has been seeing Ms. Silver Bell once a week for the last four months, paying roughly $2o0 for an hour sit-down session, which also grants calling or texting privileges. “I liked that I could do it without disrupting my schedule,” Jeanne said.

And yet, we expect the Mallory Loyolas of the country to make time for it, explain it, etc., nor do we afford them the anonymity and privacy that Jeanne so cherishes.

Forgive me if this injustice rubs me the wrong way.

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7 Comments

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7 responses to “Two Americas, Addict/New Mom Edition

  1. ThresherK

    I note that “urban mother” also gets a “two worlds” pair of definitions, starting in the second paragraf of the linked article.

  2. Kathleen

    I’ve felt for a long time that the definition of “crime” was often based on economic class. In my city rich white kids and adults from affluent communities in Northern Kentucky ride to Cincinnati to buy their drugs. I wonder who would face jail time should the transaction be interrupted by the police?

    • The white folks will all have been “cooperating with the authorities” and facing fines and community service while the black-o-perps serve some hard time.

  3. This is an unconscionable and injust law. What is the benefit to society, the mother or the child? It is purest vengeance and discrimination. It is wrong to arrest a mother of a new-born child. The norm for the last twenty years has been to simply take the child into protective custody or leave it to the care of the family in cases where the mother and child test positive for a dangerous drug. Usually the young mother is given an opportunity to demonstrate her desire to become a responsible parent. Most often, the father is not really part of the picture. Can’t we all agree that criminalizing a behavior is not always the solution? No hospital in the nation is simply sending these young women home with their newborn infants. I am not citing any evidence, but I would imagine that even a relatively healthy baby born to a meth addict is under-nourished and perhaps underweight.

    There are about as many people who use meth and are not addicted as there are people who only smoke cigarets occasionally.

  4. Most any AA/NA member with decent sobriety will do the job for free 24/7. The fact of the matter is all those “Super Mom” rationalizations are just part of the idea that their addiction is not the same as the gal or guy living under the bridge. Alcoholism kills. Drug Addiction kills. They’re diseases that require proper medical attention. If a person was having chest pains and shortness of breath would they send them to prison or the ER? Ridiculous that thinking people even have to have this conversation.

    • “… the idea that their addiction is not the same ….”

      EGGGGGzackly. Nothing is the same for them. Hence the term “Special Snowflakes.” We plebes simply don’t understand. But I think the ones who need a dose of understanding are these pampered fools.

      We used to hear the term “the great equalizer.” Cancer was the great equalizer, addiction was the great equalizer. But really there’s only one “great equalizer” anymore. Death is still the same for everybody. Everything else, there are the haves and the have-nots.

    • I spent about 12 years going to Al-Anon and ACOA meetings. I learned two things pretty quickly.

      The first thing I learned was that a lot of pretty normal looking folks had some amazing freak in their backgrounds.

      The second thing I learned is that alcoholism is completely like cancer. No single cause, no known cure. There is “recovery” instead of a cure. Recovery means that you make a conscious decision to NOT pick-up a drink in those moments when you “need” or even “want” one. In other words, if you’re an alcoholic, it’s not about willpower, it’s about “Won’t power” and the only way it’s achieved is by taking an active role in the process. Nobody can be saved, they can only be helped to save themselves.

      Young poor people (or any other poor people, for that matter) get bagged for some minor crime and go to jail. They act out in school or in public and they go to juvie hall or some other “remedial” situation where they usually don’t get a fuckton of help.

      Young people from wealthy backgrounds, otoh, get treated by various mental health professionals and coaches who make a very nice living telling them that, “Sure, life’s a bitch when you can’t drive the Porsche, just ‘cuz, you got ‘faced and drove it through somebody’s front yard but you’ll look back on this time as one of growth and self-discovery.”.

      The second option is a nice one, even if it doesn’t usually take with people who are ADDICTS! At least they die of an overdose in a nice clean hospital bed instead of in some “shooting gallery”.