As I walk to a meeting tonight, I can’t help but think that this is what my life has become. Not one single thing defines me, but more like a cluster of things, and to which most I’m not proud of.
I wake up and go to work (if there is a job scheduled), and in the evening I work my other job (if I’m scheduled), or I sit in a chair that invisibly has my name written on it and listen to either how great or not so great a fellow addict is doing. The rest of the time I usually do nothing because I can’t afford to do anything. I’ve stopped going to the gym because I can’t afford it or I lack what most people have: a bank account, in which the gym can access and pull my money. I refrain from traveling the city of Boston looking for work because most weeks I can’t afford a transportation pass needed to ride the trains or buses. Because of these minor issues, which mend together as somewhat of a cluster, people’s conception of me turns sour and like a shotguns recoil, I agree.
Little things added together make something of a larger scale. Like the many baseball teams become the MLB or a handful of songs become an album, or because of my nearly homeless income becomes a false portrait of me today, addicts doing well can relapse due to this same scale.
Many people I know have died this month along with many more people I’ve never met but learned about, and the majority of their demise have something in common; they died from the first use in their relapse. Upon hearing their stories from others at meetings, people I live with, from social media, or from the funerals and wakes I have attended, it seems that by following each individuals problems or issues, events or lack-there-of, a cluster had been formed of mediocre catastrophes shaping into one giant one; resulting in their relapse which in return resulted in their death.
I strongly believe that through communication, networking, and humility, these people may as well be alive today. I only hope that we as addicts and the people who love us can start seeing the slow and sometimes fairly visible downward spiral that usually arises before the end. Like tremors to an earthquake, we become more aware and sometimes prepared for the apex of this disease.
My heart and prayers go out to everyone we have just lost from addiction and their families.
Like always, the media controls the popularity of what topics we should talk about today. Blasted across headlines on newspapers or breaking news upon your television, the media buries itself inside your head and pulls you towards what they want you to know about. The media only takes what will bring an audience to their door and exploits it for everyone to see. So when a famous person dies of a drug or alcohol related incident, we instantly gravitate towards this realm of someone else’s opinion on the subject of addiction. And sadly, it’s sole purpose is ratings.
We can learn a lot, as addicts, from these headlined actors and musicians- famous people who struggled from this disease and sadly passed on. Whether it’s Whitney Houston, of who we all suspected of battling a drug problem, or the recent departures of Robin Williams and Philip Seymour Hoffman, who most of us only knew because of the dozens of movies we loved them acting in, they all shared a common ground, one that I share along with them. Addiction and the endless battle within.
I remember reading an article not too long ago, written by Michael Martinez, Ana Cabrera, and Sara Weisfeldt, all of whom are journalists for CNN, about a mother from Denver who has been battling the drug epidemic of pills and heroin. The article itself was informative and my heart goes out to the mother because I understand what she is going through. I can relate. But headlining in big bold letters the word epidemic attracts readers to the article so they will believe some sort of disease is spreading across the nation and that they must inform themselves about how not to get it. Well, addiction doesn’t spread like the Ebola virus or some other deadly disease. These reporters were capitalizing on such headlines of recent that include these famous people of dying from such an awful habit but with all ignorance had not done their homework, which is as simple as this: the drug epidemic has been going on since the drugs themselves have been put to use.
The whole epidemic about pills, opiates in general like OxyContin or Percocet was happening over fifteen years ago, in the late 90’s. Heroin has been an epidemic long before headlines read that David Crosby (musician) or Keith Richards (musician) were struggling with its use back in the 1970’s. Only when a famous person dies does the topic of a certain drug addiction emerge, solely focusing on the fact that addiction can even happen to a famous, well liked, rich person, in which suddenly the term epidemic comes forth.
We have always had an epidemic of drugs. Good people die each day because of this disease, and it does not care if your famous or not or what color or gender you are. Addiction couldn’t give two shits if your gay or straight or American or Asian. It has no rules other then to be used and to destroy innocent peoples lives. It’s sad and disturbing that it takes well known people for the topic to become something of an interest in society but still nothing will be done about it.
Most people have not changed their minds about how they still look at Robin Williams- one of the funniest comedians ever, or Philip Seymour Hoffman- an Academy Award Winning actor, after learning of their untimely deaths but Whitney Houston got the blunt end of the deal because the world witnessed the downfall of her career and talents through her reality television show and pictures in the tabloids. But the three of them- and the millions of other addicts throughout the planet- are all related and have gone through the similar things.
So remember the next time you hear about that awful robbery because an addict needed money to support his habit, or if you see a couple nodding asleep on the train ride to work, that these famous people you love so much could have easily been living the same life as the less fortunate addicts who don’t have a pot to piss in. This new epidemic isn’t so new at all. In fact, it’s been going on for some time…