Addiction- how and why Carter became involved : LUSENET : ER Discussions : One Thread

Warning: this is long and serious. This topic has been discussed somewhat in other threads, but it wasn't the main focus so I'll open a new one. After reading the other posts, I suspect I'm in the minority and what I have to say may make some people mad, but I hope it creates some discussion, since this is a discussion board. Okay. We all adore Carter. He has always been likeable, kind, smart, talented, caute as all get out, etc. We can justify till the cows come home, as he did to Mark, but I think that ultimately what he has done is very wrong. I am aware of all his reasons but I'm still disappointed in him, and not very empathetic (just a bit, it's Carter after all and I'm not a stone :). I feel sorry for his out of control feelings, but they are not a real excuse.) 1. He has had every opportunity to seek help. I understand the type of person who wants to deal with things on their own, but it can't always work that way. When it is obviously not working it is the persons obligation to themselves and others to find another way. A psychiatrist approached him, Gammy asked him to see someone, colleagues have talked to him and Mark gave him referrals. He has had the option of another path, but chose not to take it, "I didn't feel like talking." It's easier to take pills than to work through painful feelings, but it cannot be about what is easiet, it has to be about what is best for oneself and others. This brings me to my next point. 2. His actions and comments have made it very clear that this has been his choice. Addiction is addiction, but it can be stopped, people make that choice every day, and it doesn't have to get out of hand. He was not delusional, pyschotic or unintelligent when he started upping his meds, when he started stealing narcotics- he was addicted and feeding it, instead or finding help. 3. This is biased but I hate seeing health professionals endangering their health when they are more than aware of the consequences. How many overdoses has Carter treated. He has Chase. What does it take for him to understand? Tough love from Peter, hooray! 4. He took advantage of his position. If he wasn't a doctor, he would have to buy his drugs. He could easily get them and he did. It's still stealing, illegal and a terrible abuse of trust. 5. Endangering patients. ONe of his excuses was his performance had not declined. How long until it did? As Peter said, not long. 6. The incredible abuse of trust of the other workers. They consider eachother friends, and he was doing this under their noses. *It is terrible it reached the point it did, but Carter has some cupability. I am feel the same way as the intervention team- I am not saying he is a terrible person and deserves to be flogged, so no need to tell me so :). What I am doing is wondering if this situation can be looked at more deeply and objectively, to find another message. I don't think that this plot is meant for us to feel nothing but pity for Carter. We watch this show to think critically, and there are more sides to this issue than the automatic pity. *Wyle is a fabulous actor and the writing is superb. I just squirmed when he was denying so vehemently, and shifting blame. It was like another person was in his skin, the short glances of his real self showing through made it so painful.

-- May (, May 21, 2000


May, all of your points are extremely valid. I cannot really think of a rebuttal, other than to say we have all heard (if not known) of people who were happy, sociable, responsible, hardworking, etc etc and then, because of a traumatic event, become sullen, withdrawn, irresponsible and lethargic due to abuse of drugs, alcohol, or even the more subtle psychological addictions like sex or the internet. All I am trying to say (and this is NOT excusing Carter) is that I think Carter, as we have known him for the past 6 years, has been forced under by the trauma he has suffered, and has had to quickly fabricate a "fake" Carter that APPEARS to operate just as the old one did. This Carter is clearly devious, mistrustful, dishonest and law- breaking, but walks, talks, appears and for all intents and purposes IS the "real" Carter to his co-workers and family.

I guess my rambling point is that addiction and abuse can so completely change a person that they exhibit behaviours 180 degrees opposite their normal ones. You're right May, what he has been doing is WRONG, but I would bet that somewhere deep down inside Carter knows it too, and was just struggling for the strength (and outside help he craved but couldn't ask for) to stop these behaviours and best his addiction.

-- Emma (, May 21, 2000.

I agree. What Carter did was WRONG but he was of course not in his right mind. It is a mistake many people make today, and ER writers chose to portray Carter as one who made that mistake, that wrong choice.

-- Kim (, May 21, 2000.


All of your points are valid, but you left one out. Sometimes, it is the strongest of people, the ones that are used to dealing with their own problems all their lives, that fail to seek help because they honestly believe they can handle it alone. After all, they always have in the past.

Look at Carter's background. He has no support system to turn to away from the hospital, parents who are never there and a grandmother that just recently allowed him back into her life. Can you really picture him going to his grandmother and saying "Hey, I know you cut me off because you feel I mishandled Chase's drug abuse, but now I have a drug abuse problem of my own."

Even when a part of you knows you need help, things can spiral out of control before you realize what is happening. Carter has a lot to answer for, but his hardest critic will doubtless be himself. Six years of building that trust with his co-workers, and only a couple of months to throw it away. Can you imagine how hard it would be to come back to the hospital and face them again? How hard to start from scratch building back that hard won trust?

He made some serious mistakes. But he did not sit down one day and decide to ruin his life. He let things spiral out of control because he thought he had could control them. I have seen this happen to people I know. It is never easy, and Carter was right, people, even if they care, do judge you. But never as harshly as you judge yourself.

-- Nancy Wilson (, May 21, 2000.

You make good points. And in a way, I have to agree with everything you said. However, there are many of others things that may have added to the situation. No one really reached out to him they way they should have. As Kerry said "How could we let this happen? He showed all the signs" and later she notices that his behavior has been there for a long time. Carter was also set on dealing with everything himself. I think his behavior was a little more justified than you made it seem.

I'm still confused to if Carter really knows he's addicted to drugs. I seriously do think he thinks he's a drug addict. He knows he's dependent on drugs to function, but the way he was speaking during the intervention, whether or not it was a front, showed that he thought he had every right to do what he was doing. He was hurt that Peter could possibly believe them. In Carter's own eyes, he is not a druggie, he is a person in pain who needs painkillers to function. It's not heroin, it's not cocaine, it's not marijuana. I wish I could see more clearly what Carter thinks of himself in this situation.

-- Joanne (, May 21, 2000.

I was most impressed by the way this episode (MAy Day) showed scenes where layers of Carter's denial get peeled away slowly, rather than all in one big confrontation scene. There were four different confrontation scenes throughout the episode and in each one, Carter loses (or gives up) more and more of his denial and self-justification. This is very realistic. Even when someone agrees to go into rehab, there is still more "peeling away" work to do.

You don't become a drug addict overnight - you don't get over it overnight either.

Carter always has had an "addictive personality" if you ask me. He was always addicted to learning procedures in the first couple seasons. He craved the "approval high" he would get off them (either from Benton, or from the hospital board ranking the residents, or whatever). His impulsive behavior in seeking "new procedures" caused him to do some stupid things and his relationship with Harper (for one) suffered because of it. Lots of dishonesty there.

To me that's always been the tension in Carter's character: on one hand, he genuinely cares about patients and wants to help them (and this I suspect is the "old Carter" that everyone loves), but on the other, he has an impulsive addictive personality that causes him to act like a prick at times. That was always part of his character. Is it any wonder that, given the circumstances that transpired this season, his addictive personality eventually led him to actual drug addiction?

It seems like only a matter of time before something like this would happen to him.

-- debbie (, May 21, 2000.

Addiction strikes people at all social and economic levels. It's sad that in the year 2000, we still see it as a moral, instead of medical condition. The American Medical Association has classified it as a medical condition for decades now, but May's comments above prove that we haven't all gotten there yet. Debbie raises the best point, that Carter has shown an addictive personality throughout the series...and many of these addictive traits were admirable and acceptable to society. If he'd developed diabetes or AIDS or heart disease, would anyone make the same comments? Drug and alcohol addiction are a recognized disease (and are genetic as well), and the reason many people don't seek help is the STIGMA that is still attached, such as this thread. I'm hoping the epi has raised the awareness of the ER audience. And I too was impressed at how they handled the slow removal of his denial. In her book, "The Language of Letting Go," Melody Beattie says that denial protects the person and how dangerous it would be to strip it all away at once. ER portrayed that well too, though Carter will have a few more layers to deal with in treatment.

-- Diana (, May 21, 2000.

I had a question:How can Carter go to rehab to stop taking pain medication if he atually still needs some to take for his back??

-- jessica (, May 21, 2000.

What Debbie said is something I was going to bring up; how he slowly admitted to taking more than what was perscribed to him. I thought this was strange, how he was trying so hard to deny everything, but still admitted to Mark that he had to take more to function "more or less"...I didn't understand why Carter would admit this, unless it just slipped after his going on about the pain, Lucy's death and his guilt, and about not sleeping. He was in complete denial with the 3 of them in the lounge, annoyed that Mark asked him if he was taking over the perscribed amount. Did he realize what he had said later? They both kind of watched each other for awhile after that; Carter had to know that Mark couldn't agree to his "PLEEEASE, let me deal with it". Then, in the last confrontation, it was like he was denying it, but if they didn't believe him, he was justifying himself just in case.

As for May's points, yes they are all valid, and it goes back to another post, about Do we accept too much about Carter. He is likable by everyone, more so than any other character, but the way he is acting is wrong. However, he IS suffering from, PTSD most likely, which medically explains his actions. The thing about Carter, is yes, he has impulsive behavior to look good, but he always realizes what he's done (as in season 2) and redeems himself. It will be incredibly hard for him to return to work after this. I am sure he will be regretful of his behavior, and may even have difficulty facing everyone again...Abby, Mark, Kerry, Deb. By going, he admits that he lied and he will have to go back and regain their trusts, while I'm sure they will be watching his every move.

-- Elaine (, May 21, 2000.

I thought the scene with Mark and Carter was, Carter was slowly letting it all out. Part of him wanted to tell about his suffering and have some sympathy (which is what he kept avoiding doing for the last 3 months!), the other part still wanted to push others away.

The bit where Carter said "PLEEEASE let me handle it myself" - great acting and directing - Carter was being very charming and cute here, but it was so inappropriate. Trying to manipulate Mark (who Carter probably knew could be more easily manipulated than Kerry or any of the others, because Mark tends to be not as firm and forthright).

As for whether addiction is a medical or moral issue... EVERYTHING in life is a moral issue, IMHO. Anyone can find themselves getting hooked on drugs; but that's not the moral issue. The moral issue is, are you going to just rely on yourself for everything (like Carter tried to)? That's very prideful, and in the end it just gets you in trouble. In other words, getting hooked on drugs is a physical/psychological problem. But how you respond to it often reveals underlying moral weaknesses, such as pridefulness, lack of respect for others, etc. (Pride being the deadliest sin, in the opinion of some)

The truth is that 99% of us, if we were in Carter's position, would start exhibiting the same moral weaknesses that he did. The drugs did not cause these tendencies. They were already there, just hidden.

-- debbie (, May 21, 2000.

I agree that everything that Carter did is his choice, especially since he had a myriad of options to help him through this. Out of this incident, I think the writers were trying to show us another side of Carter. We know that drugs change people, so however Carter was during these past few weeks isn't really how he is, but the underlying issues did show us a different facet of his character.

On the other hand, it's very hard not to like Carter, and to feel nothing but pity for him. AFterall, here is a young man, faced with more guilt and pain than most thirty year olds his age have to. His support system wasn't exactly the best, and I truly believe that his addiction started very recently-- if more people had forcefully talked to him before it probably could have been prevented. But you are right, May, when you say it's his fault. It's not his fault that he got addicted, because as others have said, it was done out of physiological need, but it is his fault that, knowing what he was getting into, knowing that he was betraying his friends, he didn't do anything to get himself some help. It's true that as a part of human nature, that many men aren't going to ask for help for fear that it would make them look weak (Freud himself has said this). But it is interesting, as an overview of Carter's character, that he'd be willing to sacrifice friendship, and trust, patient care and relationships with colleagues and family, all to get drugs and do something that he KNEW was very wrong. That's a very manipulative and selfish choice, although one that was made in a time of desperation and confusion. And we knew that he knew that he was doing the wrong thing by his guilty face in the washroom last week. And despite all that he does this.

As for feeling disappointed in him, I must say that sure, wouldn't anyone be? However, being that I knew him (hypothetically) for so many years, knowing that he was a good doctor before, that I find it much easier to forgive him than I would have been had Luka or Malucci had this problem. Becuase we knew how good he can be, and has been, it's very convenient and easy to chalk his drug addiction up to a lapse in judgement and character. It's true that he has severed a lot of trust between Mark and Kerry and his other co-workers, but I feel that after being under scrutiny and supervisation after his rehab that things will begin to go back to some degree of normalcy again. But what I think this has shown us, is that now we know that Carter is capable of doing something like this. Before we all thought that, No, it's Carter, you're mind doesn't go there, but now we know it does and can. That, for me, as Carter, would be the ultimate punishment-- the fact that there is a spot in your reputation.

-- samira (, May 21, 2000.

May made some very good points. It's not Carter's fault that he went through a physical attack, he feels guilty for Lucy's death, has chronic pain and needs medicine for it. But he has rejected other forms of help, like help from Kerry and Mark at work, or going to talk to a psychologist. For whatever reason (his emotional distance from his family, his stubbornness) he did not get psychological therapy. So he chose the wrong way (painkillers) to deal with it. I agree with Debbie about this being a moral issue - that how he deals with this problem reveals underlying weaknesses such as pride and stubbornness. This does not make Carter a terrible person, because we all have faults and weaknesses.

I disagree that addiction to drugs and other things is genetic. Maybe people are born with certain personality types that make them more likely to become addicted, given exposure to the right set of circumstances. But the decision to start abusing drugs is a conscious choice. Medical doctors are always more likely to view everything in terms of biology and medicine, and to think that drugs will cure every problem or that many things are caused by genetics. (If you believe that, then you must also believe that whole line about "Boys will be boys" and that men grow up to be violent because it's in their genes!) I am more likely to agree with the Psychology/Sociology point of view which is that people are greatly influenced by the family environment they are raised in, what they are exposed to in life, their neighborhood, peers, etc.

Like others have mentioned, Carter has always had a tendency to be a little impulsive and to be concerned with what others think of him. Given the wrong set of circumstances, it made him more likely to turn to painkillers to deal with his problems because he wanted to maintain the image that people had always had of him.

-- Melanie (, May 21, 2000.

I believe that alcoholism and drug abuse is hereditary, but also, as Melanie stated.... "a Psychology/Sociology point of view which is that people are greatly influenced by the family environment they are raised in, what they are exposed to in life, their neighborhood,peers, etc.", pretty much the combination of the two. The reason I say this is that I have first hand experience with past generation family members being alcoholics (my grandfather) and now my generation of a family member being an alcoholic. I think it is a choice you begin with, but a then later on as the addiction takes hold of you, it isn't a choice anymore. It is something you can not deal with on your own. And I think that is what they were pertraying with Carter, he is someone you would never think of having a drug problem and it was NOT his choice to become addicted. He just became addicted and finally the psychological sense of it took over, as exactly what he said and believed..."I had to take even more pain medication just to function." He believed this was the only way to get himself to work and to function in life. That is why you are addicted to drugs (mental part of it anyways.)

Anyways, why I really wanted to contribute an opinion was for Jessica's question..."How can Carter go to rehab to stop taking pain medication if he atually still needs some to take for his back??". Well, I am no way a doctor but I am sure they will either switch medications to something nonaddictive or what I kind of thought of after reading your question is that, when Wyle was on Rosie, he stated that he would develop a hematoma on his spine. Well, I thought maybe they would have to do some x-rays and discover this, and have to take care of it, through surgery or something. Does that make sense? I know that I in no way answered that question, but it just lead me to think of what might be happening next season. Because that is what was causing his back pain, and they would have to care of it, I believe, so that he would not have to take any pain medications.

-- Paula (, May 21, 2000.

I had a hematoma once -- on my jawbone -- it was quite painful but not on my spine obviously. What happens is that they go away on their own. outside of surgery there is really nothing you can do. What Carter needs is physical therapy to help him deal with the pain.

-- debbie (, May 21, 2000.

The thing that makes calling Carter a drug addict so difficult, and making it out to be his fault, is that it started out as something very legal. He needed, phsyically to take the pain medication, and that is what he is now addicted to. So it's not like he had no pain and used drugs to quell the emotional aspect, which is what I thought most "drug addicts" do. That would have made it 100% his fault. But it's a little iffy now, when I think about it more. It's not like he had a choice whether to take the medication or not, he had to. If he didn't have the medication, I don't think he would have stolen drugs-- then, I think he would've talked to somebody. But since he had them, it probably became a more convenient thing for him to do, rather than cause more pain by talking about it. The latter makes it partially his fault, but it is also a contribution of the power of the drugs-- he knew from first hand experience that the drugs made him feel better, so it was all the more incentive for him to then take them for dual purposes. And I think that his taking the medication did cloud his better judgement. Had he not been on medication, chances are he would have found a "better" way of dealing with his pain.

-- samira (, May 21, 2000.

Very OT.The debate whether being addicts is hereditary: here's the thing, though. You take two people, put some alcohol in front of them, they come from the same background, socioeconomic factors equal, etc... one becomes addicted and the other doesn't. This is a situation that happens all the time, and I truly believe that genetics is a forerunner in explaining this behaviour. Is it an excuse for Carter's behaviour? No, because a lot of people who have history of drug/alcohol abuse drink alcohol and don't become addicts, and tons of people with no history become addicted. But once Carter started to take his medication, I don't think it was a totally conscious decision he made to become addicted. ( and i probably made no sense there, lol)

-- samira (, May 21, 2000.

You did make sense, samira! :-) And I agree, it was not a choice he made, but he did know that it was wrong and that he was getting himself into trouble. But because he has always been a "loner" or as Lucy once said he is closed off to the world (did she say that?, something like that anyways.), he really felt that he could handle it, because he has handled all his problems in the past himself. Someone once said, I don't remember who, that we shouldn't be feeling sympathy for him because he became an addict, but you can't help not to. The writers of the show handled this situation to the "tee", they protrayed it in a way to show the world that anyone, really, could become addicted to drugs. I don't care if there is a history of "genetics" or even the psychology/socialogy aspect of it, anyone can become addicted. In my opinion anyways, I don't want this to become such a heated discussion of what the real reason someone becomes addicted to drugs or alcohol. I guess, what I am saying is that I was NOT disgusted with Carter's actions (maybe only with Deb in the intervention), he is only human. I wish I could have been there "in T.V. Land", to hold him and say that it was going to be okay, but because I couldn't, I'm glad Benton was. Ha Ha Just kidding. :o)

-- Paula (, May 21, 2000.

I agree with you Paula... I wasn't disgusted either. (Although I do think this discussion is sorta fun.. albeit at Carter's expense lol:)) I guess I was a bit disappointed, but he hasn't become a weaker person in my opinion, and were he *real* I would continue to respect him. With all the talk that it is his fault that he's a drug addict, when you bring in the sociology theory, then it's as much his fault as it is everyone else's for not being more forceful with him in his recovery. I'm actually glad that the writers went along with this drug-line story, because it showed how real and imperfect Carter is. It was actually a bit scary for me when I saw him injecting the medicine, because I thought , Gee if someone like him can do this, so can I. I think the storyline really exposed our human frailties. Now if only October can come any sooner. :)

-- samira (, May 21, 2000.

I see Carter's behavior not as a wrong or right one but as a way of dealing with his pain. Asking for help is a very mature thing to do. Somewhere, as mature and grown up as he looks, Carter is still psychologically very immature.

We are looking at a guy who was abandonned many times in his life. His brother did, when he died (even if he did not want that.) His parents are God knows where and seem more preoccupied with themeselves then with their son (Carter is living at Gamma's, not at his parent's home.) And, maybe because it is the only relationship he knows, he keeps falling for girls who abandon him too. I can easily think of 3 : Anna, Elaine and the pediatrics teacher (Abby?).

So, even if it is unconscious, and I believe it is, Carter can't ask for help, because he may fear that those friends will abandon him too. That may be why he is so closed off as Lucy said. He still is that frightened lonely little boy, pushing people away before they leave him.

But I think he was asking for help in his very immature way : his behavior was asking for him. It is the only way he was able to ask, giving what he has been through is the past.

I am really glad Benton did not leave him when Carter tried to make him go away. Maybe this will help him to grow up, learn to trust people and mature. He needs more Bentons in his life, people who will support and love him no matter what.

-- Manon (, May 21, 2000.

Thanks for all the great responses! Wow. This is what I hoped would happen- lots of discussion. Before responding, I'll give what I intended to be my main points: 1. The parts of Carter's personality that contributed to his addiction and his behaviour regarding it; 2. The fantastic way ER is presenting this issue, in a realistic, multi-layered way. *I agree with those who said that Carter has always tried to do things on his own, I said that too; he is so close with his patients but not as good in his personal life (like all of them.) I understand that personality type, I am the same oftentimes. *The whole issue of addiction wasn't my point at all. I am fully aware of how it works (physiologically, pschologically, etc) and don't need to be told I'm behind the times. My point for discussion wasn't How it happens but Why, what brings it about in people, whether they are the expected "types" or not. I tried to be clear enough in the original post about that. Of course its not all his *fault* he became addicted, but he did choose to set himself on the path by upping the meds- he knows where that leads. *Carter in particular- what were the steps in his spiral and at which point does the efects of painkillers (we're not talking heroin here) cross with personal responsibility? Thanks for all of your opinions- I could hear the gears working :). *Emma: I agree he was struggling for the stength. That's what made it so painful. MAY DAY was well chosen- he kept acting like he didn't know why and didn't like the way he was behaving. Ouch. *Nancy: Good point about judging. I like the way that was handled. I Think that will be the most interesting aspect in the future- how he will feel about himself, also fit back into the hospital- very difficult and embarassing. *Debbie: I also loved the gradual break down of his denial. It was done especially well for only one episode. IMO that slipup with Mark showed he wanted to be helped. IMO that type of extreme behaviour (injecting at work) is asking to be caught and helped, but I don't know if its that or typical the drug-seeking. Both? Your point about all issues being moral was grand. That was what I was trying to ask about- not a blind judgement of addiction but the issues surrounding knowingly continuing one. I'm glad you said that he was being manipulative of Mark- I thought so too but didn't want to say it right off. *Samira*: I agree that this shows more aspects of his character. All though who said that he has a personality which might lend itself to addiction, or at least can lead to trouble because eh tries to do it all alone, I agree very muc with that. Your mention of Luka twigged a thought I had while watching. Luka is a good parallel of Carter sometimes. They are about the same age and share some personaltiy traits. When Luka was sitting so despondently on at the EL, I thought 'He has a bad life. He's been through hell and continues to have it bad, but he seems to keep it together.' I *know* that isn't a true comparison, but it is interesting to show how one person can become addicted, or behave recklessly some other way, and anther person doesn't when they each have it tough. Hmmm. *Melanie: What I wanted to say but didn't incase I got yelled at :D. *Jessica: acupuncture would be especially good for his pain, as well as his greif and emotional problems, as would homeopathy and physiotherapy. Thanks again everyone!

-- May (, May 21, 2000.

My take on Carter's drug abuse is that he is not taking them to get high but to feel normal and that he is more psychologically addicted than physically addicted. When the reasons for his non-normal behavior (ptsd, insomnia, physical pain, ...) are taken care of through therapy, the need for drugs will disappear. I think he's ready to open up to someone and everything will come pouring out. The guilt, flashbacks and nightmares will fade away and he will soon get a real good nights sleep. And I hope with sleep, his good sense and disposition will come back. I am probably being naive butI prefer to think of Carter not being in his right mind and this leading to his "insane" choices. A healthy Carter would never have been doing what he had been doing. ("It's Carter -- your mind doesn't go there.") Carter has looked so terrible and been in such pain for the last four months and all of his friends saw it and pretended not to see it for various reasons. If a janitor showed up at work looking like Carter did, they would have sent him home. Friends shouldn't treat friends medically. Please forgive all this rambling -- I'm really tired and have been standing in the rain for two days!

-- maryann (, May 21, 2000.

I think that 1. Carter didn't know what he was getting himself into when he started injecting those drugs; all he wanted was some relief from the pain 2. Any human at any time can be in a position of weakness where they look for ways to feel on top again 3. Carter's lying and emotional/mental ups-and-downs were not directly results of his addiction, but part of it (i.e., if he hadn't been injecting himself he probably wouldn't have been in that situation 4. at first I was alarmed at the lack of concern I saw by Carter's fellow ER staff; but I am glad it ended with the one closest to him going to find help 5. I think that when/if Carter is done w/ rehab that he will return not to his innocent doctor cuteness but to the funny, sweet personality we all love so much... sorry everybody I rambled on more than I thought I was going too; just my opinions as usual. This is a very fun thread! And it is helping me to get a view on everybody else's opinions of Carter and pain-addicts in general... thanks everybody!

-- Kim (, May 22, 2000.

I think Carter fell into all of this innocently enough by getting addicted to prescribed pain medication. But I agree with Manon above. I think he knew it was wrong and was reaching out for help. I think by him moving in with Gamma that was a way of reaching out. Also, there were many subtle hints that he gave people (maybe the right people such as Dave) but they were there and nobody picked up on them. The looks on his face in the bathroom -- you could just tell that he was disgusted with himself but found that he was spiraling out of control. Wyle has been doing an incredible job (IMO) and the writers have done a good job of showing us how someone so likable like Carter can fall into the trap of addiction.

-- amanda (, May 22, 2000.

I don't think we really know enough about Luka or is past to comment on how he has handled all the tragedy in his life. He may very well had let problems get out of hand and made mistakes. we really don't know about his past and How he did or didnot act in response to his wife/children death.

As for Carter, I wish he hadnot abused pain killers. However, it does not lesson my opinion of him . I still think he his a good person and a doctor. I can sympathise with him. I also know what pain is like. I suffer from chronic back and leg pain . Unfortunatly , I never had a drug problem . I learned ways to deal with the pain and how to control it. I will say from my personal experience that many factors can weakened yout abilities to combat the pain. I think it would be under the right circumstances quite easy to allow your use of pain killers to get out of conntrol. I have a much harder time dealing with pain when I am upset and stressed out. A person's pain threshold is really reduced when you are emotionally upset or stressed. I know when you are in pain and stressed out it is hard to think clearly and make rational decisions. Thank goodness, I never had to deal with Carter had to or I may have developed a problem with pain killers too. I think there is a very fine line that people with chronic pain deal with and any traumatic event could push you over the edge and no longer be able to deal with stuff.

The events of Valentines day really took a toll on Carter mentally and physically. There was so much emotional and physical turmoil caused by Carter's knifing and Lucy's death from the same attacker. A part of Carter died on Valentines Day. He is confused to who he is now. He probably feels every range of emotion such as fear, anger, sadness, guilt , uneasiness etc. It is made harder that he has to go back and treat patients on a daily basis in the exact same place he has to work. Carter is under unbelievable stress and emotions. Carter has pain due to a hematoma on the back that we heard about in "All in the Family". The hematoma can cause scar tissue on the spine that may never go away. Even if it does it is very painful. The attack and Lucy's death has caused carter to develop PTSD/survivor's guilt. These condition caused Carter to have insomnia and suffer from flashbacks,nightmares, sense of guilt about the event. PTSD also causes a person to become detached from other people, irritable, and agitation. Severe agitation can cause a person to appear hyper at times and go from one extreme to another like we saw.

I also think that events from Carter's earlier life such as the death of his brother, his parents not being around, people abandoning him have compounded the situation. I would have been surprised if carter had open up . It would have been unrealistic given his PTSD,survivor's guilt , and family history to do so. I do think Carter did try to reach out a few times like when he was talking to Carol or too Mark. I do think that deep down he was asking for help when he got caught. I don't blame carter or think he is weak because he wound up becoming dependent on pain killers. Given all that was going on, I think it would not have been the norm if he had not developed a problem. Carter was not thinking rationally when he strated taking too many drugs. All that was going emotinally and physical made it impossible for him to realise that he shouldn't take so much. His ability to fight off pain and deal with it was shattered. His pain threshols probably became almost non existant as the PTSD/survivor's guilt got worse and worse. Also the months of not sleeping reeked havoc on his ability to deal with pain and think clearly. I don't think Carter knew how to reach out. I do think he was trying hard to overcome and was starting to realise he couldn't. I think he was asking for help in the finale deep down even though he was fighting it when they did reach out. I think niave Carter died on Valentines day, but I think that sweet , caring and competent Carter still exists. I do think that as Carter gets therapy for everything , we will see him make improvements in his shortcomings. I don't think seasobn seven is going to harp on Carter's recovery too much, but instead show Carter grow and mature professionally and personally from his experiences. I think after a rocky first couple of months, the staff will start to respect and think more highly of his abilties as they witness these positive changes than they did before his attack. This will take time, but I think they will know he is recovered fron his attack and resulting problems by November . He will get back his full responsibities under no special supervision then. I think it will be in the second half of the season where we will see the staff gain even more respect and coonfidence in them than they ever had. I hope so anyway.

-- Brenda (, May 22, 2000.

Boy this thread has really struck a nerve -- look at all the responses! I have a question about the duration of Carter's drug abuse. We know that he has been on prescribed pain meds since the surgery but I think that he did not abuse these meds until after his "good" day when he showed Abby how to do that procedure with the camera. He had a "good nights sleep" that night and I immediately thought that he had taken sleep medication to achieve it. If you are sleep deprived I believe that sleep medication will only give you a temporary respite from it (no REM sleep on drugs) and it will come back with a vengeance. (come back to haunt you) Everything fell apart for him rather quickly after that day. Perhaps this is just wishful thinking that he has not been abusing drugs for too long. (SIGH)

-- maryann (, May 22, 2000.

Want to know why I thought the Carter storyline in the episode was powerful? Because it brought the ER staff/actors together like never before - at least, not this season and perhaps not in many others. All season long, we have been complaining that the characters are just not interacting with each other (nor acting LIKE themselves). Not true in this episode.

I really could not understand why people were so concerned that Carol leaving would tear the heart out of the show. Not to put too much importance on one character in an ensemble cast... but Carter is, and has always been the character in the middle. First as the innocent wide eyed med student (whom Michael Crichton modeled on himself!). That's why the last scene on the plane was so powerful. Whatever happens to Carter, has to happen to the rest of the ER staff too. He is the "baby" of the ER - for something like this to happen to him, of all characters, is dreadful and hard-hitting. If this happened to any other character on the show it would not mean the same thing.

To see Carter sitting next to Benton, powerfully implicates the rest of the ER staff in his story - hopefully the writers will live up to that last image, next season. Because we don't know what's going to happen with Carter, we don't know what's going to happen with the other characters either. (loved the last bit with Romano, and the other characters sort of fearfully huddling against his gaze, because they needed to protect Carter) That's the way it should be.

I think it is really interesting how people have been perceiving the downward drop in quality on ER for a while... "as Carter goes, so goes the ER"... maybe now that his character has reached a turning point, maybe the show will turn itself around too next season.

After all I think the writers have a reason to get their act together. ER is locked in for 4 more years... but aha, the big stars (Edwards, Wyle, La Salle etc) are NOT. TPTB had better do everything they can to make staying on ER past 2001-2002 (when their current contracts ar up) worth while. Or at least, worth Wyle. :-) Maybe they will get their acts together and write quality episodes again to keep the actors interested in their roles.

There's just something about that whole scene at the end which, to me, sums up where ER has been, where it is now, and where it needs to go - and it's all embodied in Carter's situation.

-- Tracy (, May 22, 2000.

Oh one more thing. I think the reason why this topic has sparked such long detailed discussion is because, as someone up topic put it (sorry can't remember who), "If Carter can do something like this, then I could too" - BINGO that's it. Carter is the Everyman on the show. When the show started in the very unfamiliar setting of the ER, audiences fixed on him because he was just as green as the audience was. Over time we've come to admire his strengths (compassion, bedside manner, warmth and tenderness) and I think, secretly want to be like him... BUT, as was also brought up, we tend to overlook his weaknesses or be puzzled by them - but we have to ACCEPT them and now his storyline has reached a point where they can't be swept under the rug any longer.

I guess the interesting thing is, Carter will now and forever, be a RECOVERING drug addict... kind of an "ugly" blot on his "character" - no longer the wholly sweet and innocent Carter - nevertheless, a dark side of his character that the audience can never forget. And I think the lengthy discussions about the nature of drug addiction, morality, etc. are part of the audience just beginning to grapple with that ... "If Carter can be this flawed, so can I..." Makes you think doesn't it? Great stuff.

-- Tracy (, May 22, 2000.

I loved Tracy's comment: it would not have meant as much if it had happened to anyone else. I have also called him the "baby" of the ER, and that is what he is, figuratively (right?) Would it have been as big a deal if one of the others had been stabbed, had his/her med student killed at the same time, had experienced flashbacks, had gone as far as to become addicted to drugs? It didn't seem possible to any of them, and although some of us (me definetly included) were angry that it seemed no one cared about him, they did, it was just that he appeared okay for so long afterwards, that they just didn't want to admit that sweet, innocent Carter wasn't okay in the end.

I am VERY interested to know whether or not the whole staff will learn about this. Most of the doctors know; everyone in the confrontation, Abby, Elizabeth knows through Mark and Cleo will probably know through Benton. So that leaves the suspitious nurses (who eventually find out everything), Romano, Mallucchi, and Luka. Do you think the rest will eventually find out? Will Mark and Kerry feel the need to tell them because it is in Carter's best interest to have everyone be careful with him? I am just wondering this because I would love to see Mallucchi's reaction and how he deals with Carter...would he be a good friend? If anyone knows how these situations are handled, please let me know.

-- Elaine (, May 24, 2000.

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