From The Prez

It is no secret that addiction is a chronic, progressive disease when left untreated or not held in check will eventually lead to death. It is also a disease as described in the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) as “cunning, baffling and powerful”. Evidence of these two statements personally hit home during the first two months of 2012. Two weeks into the New Year, one of our residents decided to test the turbulent waters of addiction; stuck a needle in his arm and died immediately. His name was Trevor, an intelligent, energetic, fun loving guy -whose infectious smile and positive outlook provided inspiration to those who crossed his path. He had just started a job- making $24 per hour, was about to get a car, and had worked hard at repairing the relationship with his family. By all accounts his life seemed to be coming together. So why (???) would he one morning take a detour to the drug dealers house, cop a bundle of heroin, shoot a bag that ultimately ended his young life (23 yrs. old)…the cunning, baffling and powerful part of the disease. Moreover, Trevor never anticipated that this bag would be his last bag- addicts never do… that is the reality of addiction; particularly with opiate use: respiratory failure- and we all know what happens once you stop breathing. I had another friend (Brad), a week or two later- succumb to this disease. His was a different story. Brad had over 22 years of continuous sobriety; had just sold a successful business; had two beautiful grandkids; a lovely wife and an old farmhouse that took him years restore. Outwardly, he had achieved all the trappings of material and personal success. One day, a few years ago, he decided to pick up a drink. I couldn’t believe it when I heard it…he and I were friends in early recovery, went to meetings together, played tennis, chased some of the same women and worked on several projects together in our respective careers. In January, he died alone by a stream just 75 yards from his house at the age of 56. Everyone knows the Whitney Houston story…a beautiful and talented musical icon who had sold more than 18 million records during her extraordinary career. Her years of prescription drug and alcohol abuse finally caught up to her; and she was found dead in her hotel room at the age of 48. Years of fame, money and prestige couldn’t save her from this deadly disease. A woman adored by millions- died alone; the same circumstances as my friend and Trevor… AA refers to addiction as the “lonely disease”. Before I conclude, let me say that prescription drug addiction is a national epidemic in this country. According to Sanja Gupta, medical correspondent for CNN, a person dies every 9 minutes of a drug overdose, and the DAWN report states that over 1 million emergency room visits are related to misuse and/or abuse of prescription drugs. An LA doctor was recently arrested for writing 27,000 questionable prescriptions over a two year period. Her negligence and total disregard for the well-being of her patients resulted in the overdose deaths of two people. Rightly so, the doctor is being charged with two counts of second degree murder…doctors need to wake up to the fact that giving an addict a narcotic medication or benzodiazepine is like handing a diabetic a 5lb bag of sugar or radioactive material to a cancer patient. It is irresponsible medicine. Doctors should be better educated on the signs and symptoms of addiction- and from what I understand; they only get two hours of addiction education in Enough of my diatribe. Let me conclude by saying that it is quite evident by the aforementioned stories that money, success, prestige and intellect will not offer a shield against this deadly disease. Also, time in recovery is no guarantee…how many times have you heard in the rooms: “we only have a daily reprieve”. Even after 27 years of recovery… and 16 years of being in the recovery house business, I still scratch my head and look with a sense of bewilderment at someone- who seems to have it all together- relapses or dies of an overdose. Like everyone, I must remember; cunning, baffling and powerful and yes “deadly”…that is why everyone needs to remain vigilant in their recovery program. Lastly, I offer my condolences to all the families who have lost love ones in this terrible war of addiction. Moreover, society has lost all the untold contributions that these people will never make. Take care. Spring into Action! Enjoy the spring.