Hannah’s story is a sad story with a lot of heartache and tragedy.


Hannah’s story is a sad story with a lot of heartache and tragedy. Hari’s book states, “To the prohibitionists, Hannah is a failure, because she continued using drugs. To the Portland Hotel Society, she was a success, because she knew she was loved.” (Hari, 2015, p. 167) Whether or not she is deemed a success would depend on how the word ‘success’ is defined. The 1828 Merriam-Websters dictionary defines success as “The favorable or prosperous termination of any thing attempted; a termination which answers the purpose intended”. (Merriam-Webster 1828) Obviously, the Portland Hotel Society is not using this term in the most literal sense, but instead, applying the word success to their biggest concern, an individual knowing whether or not they are loved and valued. The Portland Hotel Society, did love and value her, showing her that they did in every possible way they could. After reading her story, I’m not sure she was in any position to really internalize that value herself. While research does show a lower relapse rate among those who have intimate relational ties (Zeng, Chen, 2021), many addicts have people that love them, but the addicts are so wrapped up in their own overwhelming emotions that they can rarely see it. As to the term ‘success’, as defined by Marriam Webster, I’m not sure how that would be measured since sobriety involves a change in mindset, functional life choices, ect. Simply not ‘using’ would not be an accurate measurement since one can be clean and sober and still not be able to hold a job or function as part of society. I don’t think there is a clear line to be agreed upon and drawn between successful and unsuccessful when it comes to sobriety. As far as Hannah’s story, while I am glad that she was taken care of and loved by the Portland Hotel Society, I do not believe her story to be a success because she never had peace or even the slightest understanding of her value as a human being.    


Zeng, X., Lu, M., & Chen, M. (2021). The relationship between family intimacy and relapse tendency among people who use drugs: a moderated mediation model. Substance Abuse Treatment, Prevention, and Policy16(1). https://doi-org.portal.lib.fit.edu/10.1186/s13011-021-00386-7

Hari, J. (2015). Chasing the scream: The first and last days of the war on drugs. Bloomsbury. 

Success, 1828, Merriam-Webster, n.d., https://webstersdictionary1828.com/Dictionary/success

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