Why Drug Addiction Is
Sometimes Impossible to Kick

Nothing in Aubry’s (Caitlin Gerard) life in American Crime Episode 5 is as important or as enticing as drugs.  Not even love.  And, she’ll put her life and Carter (Elvis Nolasko) at great risk to get her fix. What are Aubry and Carter running from in Episode 5 of American Crime? Drug addiction isn’t the real culprit. We could say she’s an addict and Carter’s an enabler. But, that’s not enough. What are the forces that drive them so hard that neither can stop?

Running from Terror of Loss

Aubry and Carter are running from terror of loss – both of them. But we don’t know yet what created this fear. Both of their pasts are still a mystery. That leaves me, as a psychoanalyst, to make some educated guesses. Particularly about Aubry, since she’s at the center of this episode, with Carter being drawn along into her fantasies of love and escape.

The looming question still is – who is Aubry’s dad? She calls him Michael when she’s with him and “my dad” – when she speaks about him to Carter. Is he a foster dad? A relative? Or – is he actually her dad who remarried after (a guess) the death of her mom? Is he trying to push a new stepmom and brother on her without letting her experience her feelings of loss? Mostly, we have just questions.

Feelings & Fear When Sober

What we do know is this. Aubry can’t stop drugs. She hates being sober. If she’s sober, she has to feel things or know things she’s trying to forget. What makes her happy – in only fleeting moments – is remembering how she met Carter, the fantasy of how they found each other (or he found her). In her desperation, he’s like a drug, too. She has to keep him alive, and with her, to keep that feeling. Yet, she can’t, really.  Other fears and feelings intrude.

So she must run as fast as she can. American Crime Episode 5 begins with Aubry’s elaborate plan for escape to Vietnam where no one will kill Carter. Or find either of them. She’s certain he’ll be killed, in one way or another – and taken from her. With this kind of terror, there’s no doubt in my mind that Aubry’s suffered some terrible loss in the past.

Ghosts of the Past Try To Return

We see her in the car with Carter – agitated, frantic, crazed, screaming when she doesn’t have drugs. It’s not withdrawal per se – it’s the coming out of a retreat from ghosts of the past that are chasing her. She always has to be one step ahead. Carter turns the car around at her insistence – to head back to Modesto to get money (for drugs) from her dad.  He puts himself at great risk.  Who is she to him? Carter has ghosts, too. As he drives, tears quietly stream down his cheeks.

In American Crime Episode 5, Aubry’s pulled deeper and deeper into her darkest fears and her need for escape. At the drug dealer’s house, someone attacks Carter for stealing from him in the past. No doubt, for Aubry. Aubry attacks back. The guy falls over.  Dead. She doesn’t care. Saving Carter is all that matters. She’s caught up in a fantasy she has to believe: “Things just work out, they do. We can do this.  We’re fixed. We get out. Then, its you and me like the people in the magazine.”

They’re on the road to Seattle again. But, drugs are no real escape from the needs and fears that have brought them together and trapped both of them long before they met. Carter withdraws. Sober. Confused about how he is where he is. Aubry parties by herself. Suddenly he’s desperately trying to wake her up. We won’t know if she’s dead or alive until tomorrow night on Episode 6.

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Dr. Sandra E. Cohen

I’m Dr. Sandra Cohen, a psychologist and psychoanalyst in private practice in Beverly Hills, CA. I work with creatives in therapy, story/character development, and entertainment consulting. If you are a writer, actor, or director and want help with a character – or a chance to do some of your own personal work - call at 310.273.4827 or email me at to schedule a confidential discussion to explore working together.