Apologies to velvetwhip (and believe me Gabrielle, I sympathise with the issues you had with the episode you saw) but I'm in the middle of catching up with House. I *really* like this show. And I think the half bottle of wine I've had today has pushed me far enough away from being paranoid about what other people think to speak my mind enough to explain why.
House has very British sensibilities.
Yes, the main character is hooked on painkillers. He's in pain, the painkillers help him get on with his life. He is coping. Just because other people think he has a problem does not mean he automatically has to seek help. He's dealing.
As I'm typing this I want to self-edit, I want to say "yes but accepting you have a problem is part of dealing with it." And I am forcing myself not to edit this beyond bad spelling because I want to put this out there. This is who I am and bottling it up only leads to problems.
Addiction is a real problem. Alcoholism is a disease. Is hypochrondria? When I was in sixth (final) year at school my friends (who I lost touch with less than 12 months later) thought I was hypochondriac enough to plan on giving me a packet of asprin as a Christmas present. I know hypochondria - trust me on this. (yes smileawhile, ask Claire C about it.) Believing you have an illness gets you attention, it gets you sympathy, it gets you hugs. It validates you. Or at least that's what you think when you are a hypochondriac.
Addiction is an illness and in today's postmodern society where emotions are a person's most marketable commodity, saying publically that you have an addiction somehow leads to the belief that you are a better person. I am in no way trying to belittle those who have a real, genuine problem, but this whole society in-bred belief that we can all support each other and that saying you have a problem cures it? Bull. Being on painkillers is not always a problem. It can simply be an indication that you are in pain.
This whole mentality of 'feelings for sale' is a result of mediatisation of society and at the moment our media is very much dominated by the USA. Therefore when you see a show like House, where the main character is brusque, is rude, doesn't do the 'touchy-feely' thing (self-edit there - I wanted to write crap instead of thing, I changed it, does telling you I changed it negate the edit?) makes him less than the perfect doctor portrayed in General Hospital. It makes him less like Carol in ER and more like Charlie in Casualty. It makes him less American and more British.
I'm hazy on the statistics although I will try to find them out, but Scotland has one of the highest rates of heart disease, cancer and stroke in Europe. We know bad lifestyles. (I'm using Scotland as an example because it's what I know, I wouldn't think the statistics change too much as soon as you go south of Scotch Corner...) We have a lot of alchoholics, a lot of addicts, a lot of people with problems. We also have a lot of people who drink a fair bit but who are not dependent on alcohol. There is a difference.
I am going to be controversial here and I'm not going to name the friend who said this, but when Nick Brendon said he was going into rehab for an alcohol problem, a friend of a friend said that he was the one guy from the Whedon-verse show she would go out drinking with becaue "he's an American Alcholic - that means he drinks like a British person." Again I stress, I am not belittling anyone here. Alcoholism is a disease, it is treatable, it takes perserverance, it takes support. I am not implying (nor was the friend of a friend) that Nick Brendon does not have a problem with alcohol, or that anyone who makes that public statement does not have a problem. What I'm saying, and I realise it is not in the most coherant way, is that just because someone likes to drink, it doesn't mean they have a problem with alcohol. Just because someone takes a little over the recommended dosage, it doesn't mean they have a problem with "pain management" (note, I self-edited here. I ranted about the use of a sanitised term such as "pain-management", like such a thing can be labelled and filed away)
When I found out my ligament was torn in my wrist I was told to take around 1,200 mg of Ibufrofen a day with paracetomal on top of that and if it was really bad I was to take Dicoflenic on top of the lot. Pretty serious dosages. There were days when I took more than I should have, days when I took less. Seven years later I still take around 400mg a day of 'brufen. Am I addicted to painkillers? I can get by without them. I take them because they get rid of the pain. They mean I can type, I can use a mouse, I can work. Which means I can keep my job and pay the bills and live my life. If the day comes when I can't get through the day without thinking about when I can take the next round of painkillers? Yes, I'll have a problem. Right now, it's living.
I really want to stress here that I do not want to give the impression I think that addiction is not real, that asking for help is somehow wrong. It's not. I'm the last person to say that - hell I'm in therapy right now so I would a hypocrite of the highest order if I said anything like that - what I'm saying is this, that nobody is perfect. The human condition is flawed.
And House is quite probably the only show I've seen that actually has the balls to say that.
If I have offended you, then I apologise. This is me though, I have strong opinions about this and other things, and I feel sometimes that I don't always share them for fear of what people will think. But this is me. It's all I have.