You would think Jordan Peterson is not the kind of celebrity that you would see in rehab. He is a University Professor with radical views and insistence on knowing how to solve the riddles of life. As demonstrated in the following video, he even has such an in-depth knowledge of the functions of addiction. So how did someone like him end up in rehab?
What is Clonazepam?
Clonazepam is a powerful medication that carries the infamous ‘black box’ warning by the FDA. It is used in general to treat some seizures and more recently for severe panic disorder(panic attacks). Clonazepam is often abused due to the euphoric sensations that it produces. It is also relatively easy to access as it is widely available on prescription (source). Clonazepam belongs to the same family as Xanax known as benzodiazepines. Both Clonazepam and Xanax are used to treat anxiety disorders. The main differences are that Clonazepam stays in the system twice as long as Xanax and can be used to treat seizures in addition to anxiety.
Dr Peterson’s family released this short video in February 2020. The video describes how the addiction came about, and what led up to the family’s decision to seek treatment for him in Russia.
According to his daughter, Dr Peterson began on a low dose of the anti-anxiety medication after experiencing an auto-immune reaction to food. Later, like many addicts, his dependence became more firmly established as a reaction to personal trauma. When his wife was diagnosed with terminal cancer, the dose was increased, and he developed a severe physical dependence on the drug. So, for the last eight months, the Canadian Psychologist and Professor has been in ‘unbearable discomfort’ from the medication. He has experienced an ‘endless irresistible restlessness bordering on panic and an inability to be still’. This reaction made Dr Peterson suicidal.
These statements highlight a crucial part of addiction which people often dismiss – physical dependence. Through a lack of education, someone can conclude that addicts are weak-minded. In Jordan Petersons case, that is not true. This is a typical example of a situation where drug addiction ceases to be about the pursuit of pleasure and becomes more about the avoidance of pain.
Through the statements made in the video, his family are trying to make it clear that what Jordan Peterson is experiencing is not psychological dependence but a severe physical dependence on the drug. A natural conclusion to make is that this is an attempt to protect the reputation of the psychologist who was known for having it all worked out. After all, Dr Peterson’s book ‘The 12 rules for life’ is an international bestseller. Going into recovery could be seen as humiliating and embarrassing to Jordan’s career.
In some ways, it is sad that we live in a world where protecting reputation becomes a priority in these situations. Perhaps Dr Peterson is also suffering from another addiction involving power and fame? Maybe all addiction has an aspect of this. Humiliation can be torturous. To admit that you don’t have it all worked out can be difficult. Of course, a lot of people will make very harsh judgements of the case. Students of Dr Peterson will no doubt ‘lose faith’ in their mentor now that he has failed to live up to his expectations of others
Several conclusions could quickly be drawn from the situation. The most damaging to Dr Peterson is the conclusion that his methods do not work. He has, after all, travelled the world lecturing on all aspects of life, including addiction. Now he has become someone who needs his own advice.
Another conclusion could be that Jordan has vastly underestimated the power of physical addiction. Of course, when someone has not been through recovery and withdrawal themselves, they can lecture everybody else on how to deal with it – but it is all just theory. Jordan Peterson is known for being incredibly well-read. Some might say that it is both a blessing and a curse. You have tremendous amounts of knowledge which you feed into your incredibly advanced critical thinking brain which spits out its logical conclusions based on your own very unique personal history and experience of the world. Dr Peterson’s findings seem to be based on what many experts say. Still, you might wonder if such an academic viewpoint supposes that addiction is experienced by most people in the same way?
Like most things in this world, addiction and recovery are highly personal experiences. While many stories are comparable, everybody seems to experience them differently based on their own history and experiences of the world, which are vastly different.
Of course, some will write off Dr Peterson after this. But, in terms of understanding addiction and recovery, there is nothing better than having experienced it for oneself. Those of intelligence will now wait for the recovery process to settle and to see what this incredible mind of Jordan Peterson will make of it next. Is this his true calling in life? Will he become someone focused on finding new ways to help addicts? Indeed, in having a unique empathy and understanding for them, he is much better placed to do so.
If he can approach this situation with a degree of humility and openness, Dr Peterson might find that rehab is one of the best things that has ever happened to him. He wouldn’t be the first to find their true niche in the world after going through rehab. Used correctly, it could even launch him into finding ways to help people even more deeply. From a platform of true experience, a mind like his could really bring true benefit to many people. Whether he ends up taking that road of humility and openness or tries to justify what has happened, we will have to wait to find out.
If you or a family member need help and you want to get the best treatment possible, get in touch with us now. With over twenty years of helping people to find peace in recovery, we are South East Asia’s Premier Addiction Treatment Centre.
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