It is difficult for successful intelligent drug addicts to accept that they are in fact drug addicts at all. They are too often completely naïve to the fact that the drugs are the root of their woes. It’s understandable as they do not fit any of the norms associated with drug addiction. They’re not homeless, stealing money, unemployed or broke.  In fact the mere mention they have a drug problem often results in offence. “Me? How dare you? He’s worse than me?”

What is forgotten or mostly unknown is that drug addiction is the true “equal opportunity disease.” It does not care who your parents are, how much money you have in the bank, how many premierships you played or what beautiful girlfriend you have. Addiction affects equally those from all segments of society regardless of your background or current circumstance.

The successful and intelligent addicts are the most difficult to treat. Why? They are used to being able to resolve most issues and obstacles in life with relative ease and they bring this attitude with them into treatment.

“Yeah sure mate” they say “but I’m not really like them, I don’t have to do that, I can stop by myself.” Or “I don’t need rehab, I’m not a junkie like them, I’ll do this myself.”

The mere thought of being associated with addicts and “real junkies” is totally abhorrent to them. They’ve been told their whole life that they are special and can do anything. They truly believe they are uniquely gifted and beyond the norms of society.

Then they find themselves sitting in a clinic being told that they’re a in fact a drug addict and have no control over themselves and must abstain from drinking and drugging because they have a diseased called ADDICTION?

It’s the emotional equivalent of being told, “Sorry we were wrong about you, you’re just another mortal and don’t belong with the elites anymore.” The reality of normality is often too hard to face for the likes of Ben and his other midfield mates and they spend decades trying to prove they can still do whatever they want without consequence.

Gillon MacLachlan came out today in support of Ben saying “we will do whatever it takes.

Well let me tell you what it will take. Until Ben is compliant in a 6-12 month residential drug rehabilitation program followed by another year of intensive therapeutic support in an abstinence based treatment model we are all wasting our time with him.

Ben was an amazing footballer and by all reports a nice guy. But that doesn’t change the fact he is just an average drug addict. No different to any other addict who cannot resist the compulsion to use drugs despite the obvious consequences both historical and present. Ben’s success in other areas of his life is of no use to him in treating his drug addiction. In fact outside success can be an impairment and he may expect to be the high achiever he has always been and when he finds himself struggling in treatment he may become despondent and further resistant to treatment. This is most common is successful drug addicts.

Ben must do what any other long term chronic drug addict must do. Long term abstinence based treatment. Just like other diseases cancer and diabetes, treatment plans don’t change because you’re famous or athletically gifted.

The Cousins Family, AFL and the wider community, while having love and compassion for Ben, must also hold him accountable. Put simply, Ben should be offered absolutely no other support than treatment. This includes not being provided various couches to sleep on. These friends need to turn him away and tell to go to rehab. And not a retreat in Malibu or Yoga Retreats in Thailand. Rehab. Drug rehab. Nothing more. Nothing less.

The days of seeing his local doctor and counsellor periodically and a pep talk from friends are long gone. Ben is a chronic drug addict who needs urgent treatment. Any offer of support deviating from that is enabling and ignoring Ben’s true needs.

So let’s stop all the talk of poor Ben and let’s start asking the right questions?

“Ben, why the hell aren’t you in rehab? This is not just about you anymore Ben, you have children who need you. You don’t have the luxury of being a single man anymore. You’re a parent with responsibilities that must be met.”

His Family, AFL and the wider community must not offer Ben any support other than treatment. Anything else is simply ignorant grandstanding and bandaiding over the issue. Like any other illness Ben has a responsibility to engage in REAL treatment to the best of his ability. He may get well, he may not, but he must engage in treatment and we as a loving compassionate community must hold him accountable to that. For his sake and his children.