David Carr: He Reported On His Addiction And His Recovery

“The stories that we tell about ourselves are designed to sort of reveal a part
of ourselves to the world. It’s the part we want to show. What I learned from two years of reporting, investigation and writing is that you can’t know the whole truth. But if there is one, it lies in the space between people.”  David Carr

Learning more about David Carr

The New York Times logo
The New York Times logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Yesterday David Carr passed away. He was 58 years old. You may be familiar with his body of work as a journalist, most particularly since 2002 as the New York Times media columnist. In that role he would often be called upon by television and online news outlets to comment about current news stories and how those are impacted by social media platforms like FACEBOOK, TWITTER, GOOGLE + and various blogs.

In writing about Mr. Carr today, the New York Times offered:

David’s public contribution to the profession — his columns and feature stories, his interviews and investigations — is part of the record, and part of the glory of this newspaper. Until his death on Thursday, he covered every corner of the media business (including, sometimes, his own employer) with analytical acumen, ethical rigor and gumshoe tenacity.

David Carr authored and researched his memoir

In the quote above by David Carr when he states that he spent two years reporting, investigating and writing he is speaking about his own memoir The Night of the Gun: A reporter investigates the darkest story of his life. His own. 

The Night of the Gun is Mr. Carr’s memoir of his struggle with his addictions including cocaine and how he began his recovery in late 1988. He was 32 years old and the father of twin girls. Many people have written memoirs of their life, the disease of addiction and ultimately their life of sobriety, but very few took Mr. Carr’s approach. He literally investigated his own story like he would any other news story: interviewing family members, counselors, friends, attorneys, co-workers and reviewing police reports to make sure he had his facts straight. More often than not he found his memory was sorely lacking important factual details.

In July 2008, The New York Times Magazine published an article “Me and My Girls,” an excerpt from his book.

“To be an addict is to be something of a cognitive acrobat. You spread versions of yourself around, giving each person the truth he or she needs — you need, actually — to keep them at a remove. Let’s stipulate that I do not have a good memory, having recklessly sautéed my brain in fistfuls of pharmaceutical spices. Beyond impairment, there may be no more unreliable narrator than an addict. Recovered or not, I am someone who used my mouth to constantly create one more opportunity to get high.

Here is what I deserved: hepatitis C, federal prison time, H.I.V., a cold park bench, an early, addled death.

Here is what I got: the smart, pretty wife, the three lovely children, the job that impresses.

Here is what I remember about how That Guy became This Guy: not much. But my version of events is worth knowing, if for no other reason than I was there.”

Some final thoughts…

Here at Cottonwood Tucson we offer a Family Program.  The goal of Family Program is to help families relearn behavioral interaction so that healthy behaviors become logical. Interpersonal change that can be sustained after treatment requires a movement from following direction (first order change) to internalizing new ways of interacting (second order change). Families shift from obsessive worry and controlling behaviors to acknowledging that which is outside of their control and learn to focus on their own personal needs and boundaries. They learn to detach from the pain, and not from the person.

Many family members inquire as to books or articles they might read to learn more about the disease of addiction and the miracle of recovery. The truth is parents, siblings, spouses and friends are looking for hope.

There is a good chance Mr. Carr’s memoir may just fit the bill. 

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CARF - Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities NATSAP | National Association of Therapeutic Schools and Programs NAADAC newsweek