Vice Presidents Anonymous is a support group for recovering VPs, much like Alcoholics Anonymous is for alcoholics. But instead of sharing stories about struggles with alcohol, we share stories about struggles with greed, sleaze, aggression, delusion, paralysis and imbecility .
September 9th, 2020
Local AA Leader Shares Concerns About Nation’s Mental Health Crisis
Tallahassee, FL—Don Pickles, the leader of Tallahassee’s largest AA group, has been coming to meetings with the all-too-familiar weight of addiction on his shoulders for the past 11 years. But now, he sees that burden taking on a new form in the rapidly expanding group. “I know times are tough,” he says peering over a cup of coffee at the COVID-cleared streets, “but what’s going on with the group seems…unprecedented.”
Given the recent political, social, and economic upheaval, AA membership nationwide has skyrocketed. One might expect this given any “hard times” that come about, but what is peculiar about this wave is that many of the new members are not alcoholics. “I’m not sure why they come—I mean, I am: they want something real, to feel something real. But I don’t know if that’s because they need to be comforted or if it’s just better entertainment than Netflix. I feel like I’m performing for them.”
The pandemic has revealed many sills heretofore unchecked in American society. Among them has been the absence of equal access to mental health services. While 99% of Americans aren’t covered for mental services, Ivy-League institutions now provide personal helicopter therapy sessions for certain students with the funds to pay the copay. Mental health counselors take their patients out above the skyline, hoping to provide a safe space for any issues that may be uncomfortable to share on earth. In their defense, nothing on earth is comfortable to share anymore. That’s what lies at the root of Pickles’s pickle.
“Can I blame them for using my mortifying, existentially threatening addiction to uplift them from their unrelated insecurities? I mean, I could, but isn’t that the point of AA, to accept, validate, and rehabilitate? If they’re all in pain, do they need to be alcoholics? I’m not sure it even matters anymore, if they just need friends.”
Tallahassee State, the newest member of the Ivy League (by way of Trump’s Constitutional Executive Order [CEO]) has some of the more luxurious mental health services. In addition to leading the way in the Ivy League with therapeutic helicopter flights, State’s massive, sudden influx in federal funding allowed the school to invest in and consequently monopolize the deregulated mental health marketplace. The first three sections of the school healthcare plan (which served as the platform for State’s wider reshaping of national healthcare) require all members to pay a flat “luxury-tax” fee of $2 million. In addition to helicopter therapy, many of the mental health services include cutting edge medical practices such as Learjet therapy, Bora Bora therapy, and Eyes Wide Shut therapy. Unfortunately for Mr. Pickles and AA groups across the nation, this left millions of Americans without an affordable healthcare plan for their mental well-being.
“I understand their pain. I’ve been there, with no one to turn to, nowhere to go. I get it. But they don’t participate, they don’t share.”
He looks at his cup and picks it up again to sip, looking out over the now-teeming square of shouting people getting ready to protest a closed Dave and Busters.
“They don’t share,” he says again, “and sometimes I can’t help but feel that they might just be bored, looking for the next feeling they can pickle up and put in the pantry for a while. Cheapest entertainment out there.”