Marc Maron’s show “Maron” on IFC recently got season 3 posted on Netflix, and I have promptly rolled through all of it. It’s brilliant, though that shouldn’t come as a surprise.
Episodes 12 and 13 deal specifically with drug addicition, where Marc (in character and real life a recovering drug addict) relapses with painkillers and ruins his opportunity with an online talk show. It’s a sad tumble for the character, which is all the more impactful since Marc plays a character you’re not really supposed to like in the first place.
The addictive behavior displayed by Marc in the episode hit very, very close to home. Its accuracy is practically haunting to me; I have witnessed an extremely similar situation in my life. The end outcome wasn’t quite as dramatic as the show (what is as dramatic as a TV show, really), but everything leading up to it was accurate.
I’m sure Marc has lived through it or witnessed it as well, and that much is obvious. I know what a long-term recovering drug addict looks like when they’re regressing, and what’s on display in this episode is it. I watched the episode, cried, then watched it again. I never, ever thought I would ever see such an accurate, honest portrayal of addiction on a TV show. The interactions, the rationalizing, the bargaining, the lies, the sneakiness, the patronizing. All hit very close to home. All accurate.
It’s far more than watching him high. It’s what he does before he gets high. It’s what he does when talking himself and rationalizing behavior that he knows is wrong. The conversation he has with himself before the show recording is a perfect representation of the inner war an addict has.
They don’t even realize, in the moment, that there’s a chemical reacton, a chemical addiction in play. They think they’re in control, they bargain with themselves so that they feel that the decision they’re making is the right one, even though they know what they’re about to put in their body has ruined them before.
It’s a highlight about how destructive it can be, but also how much of a mental component it all is. The biggest fault on the War on Drugs is the fact that the drugs don’t kill people; it’s the people that kill themselves. There’s a multitude of reasons and excuses for why they do it, but they all align under a single banner: they have control over this, and they are good enough to keep it that way. And truth be told, some people can. Millions of people habitually smoke marijuana and lead functional, healthy lives. There are many people who recreationally use harder drugs and still have their shit together. While the drug is the literal substance that’s hurting their body, it’s only hurting the addict’s life because they’re letting it.
Now obviously no one, except maybe the suicidal, uses drugs with the intent on ruining their life or those around them. They’re using them to escape something, or to give them an edge they think it may give them (and in some cases it may!). They’re using them because it’s what they know will work to make them feel better, whatever “feeling better” is to them in the moment.
And that’s what the sickness of addiction is. It’s having the ability to lie to yourself, to rationalize obviously destructive behavior, in the name of circumstance or fleeting happiness.
What Maron displayed in this episode is a classic, real look at what an addict thinks. He took painkillers because he was in pain, but being an addict, he didn’t know when to stop. He became chemically reliant on the drug, instead of seeking healthier (or more moderate) ways to deal with the pain he had.
The painkiller wasn’t the problem. For a person who understands the dangers of drugs and their own potential weaknesses, taking a painkiller when you’re in pain is fine. If you follow the prescription, it’s fine. The problem is when you lie to yourself, when you lie to those around you, when you convince yourself that you need this painkiller, and you have it under control. And Maron’s character obviously did not. And being an addict in the past only exacerbated the problem, because he quickly fell into old habits he made before: hiding the drugs from the intervention he knew was coming, searching for drugs in his neighbor’s bathroom, making sure he had the time to take more before the show, no matter how embarrassing it seemed (he insinuated that he was going to have a pre-show jerk-off just to get in a room alone).
These are all things I have witnessed. It hit really close to home. It really underscores a major problem in society. This wasn’t cocaine, this wasn’t crack. It was painkillers, something many people take legitimately every day.
This was a person. A broken person, one who believed his own lies, and was on a path to do anything to continue those lies.