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At the heart of general practice since 1960

Phil Peverley, Columnist of the year

Phil reckons one movie is as manipulative as the drug addicts it purports to portray

Smacks of hypocrisy

Drug addicts are boring. Often I find it hard to credit just how boring they can be. It starts even as they enter the room, with that amateur dramatic attempt to simultaneously convey suffering and deference; two attributes that rarely co-exist in real life.

But the really dull bit begins when they start to speak. Lies. Boring, self-serving, obvious lies. Your true addict treats every consultation as a manipulative attempt to screw any advantage out of their GP, and nothing is beneath them. A friend of mine, who runs a clinic for opiate addicts, defines them as people who will not only steal your wallet, but will help you look for it afterwards.

Drug addicts have no moral compass, no anchor that grounds them in our society. Their endless self-centredness is the alpha and omega of their existence, a source of perpetual grief for their loved ones, and frustration for those practitioners who are charged to pick up the pieces of their thoughtless indulgence.

One of the main reasons that I like being a GP is that I find people interesting. Just about everyone has a story to tell if you ask the right questions; there are a million stories out there. Unfortunately, addicts have only the one.

That bloody awful film Trainspotting was on again the other night. I hate that film. It is as dishonest and misleading as any drug addict is, but that is where its similarity with drug addiction ends. I enjoyed it as entertainment when it came out, but the more

I see it the more I hate the cavalier misrepresentation conveyed in every frame.

The movie's portrayal of four heroin addicts during a few weeks of self-indulgence in Edinburgh is exciting, glamorous, shocking and funny. Everything, in fact, that heroin addicts aren't. It makes me furious. Smackheads aren't as good-looking or as entertaining as Ewan McGregor;

we know they aren't because the spotty ugly shitehawks are sitting in our waiting rooms even now. Heroin addiction isn't an exhilarating rollercoaster ride of sparring with the police and scoring points over the authorities, because we are the authorities and we are too busy pumping the sorry bastards full of naloxone and draining their abscesses to enjoy their sparky humour. I don't hear jokes, I hear abject pleading.

How much damage has that film done? How many opinions have been influenced, how many young people have had their objections to illegal drug use eroded by its disingenuous hypocrisy? How many people tried heroin afterwards to see if it was as fun as it looked? Even I, someone who has never taken an illegal drug, thought heroin addiction seemed like a reasonable lifestyle choice after that film.

An honest film about heroin addicts would be incredibly dull and unwatchable. Who wants to watch pasty-faced herberts staring into space, stealing car radios or waiting around to sign on?

Ewan McGregor has moved on to become a Jedi Knight. The rest of us are left with the depressing reality.

Dr Phil Peverley is a GP in Sunderland, and PPA and MJA Columnist of the Year

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