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January 26, 2010

VH1's Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew

As a person not only in but committed to long term recovery I must confess that I was very skeptical regarding VH1's Celebrity Rehab show with Dr. Drew Pinsky.  Conventional 12-Step "wisdom" has always feared that the often very public addiction recoveries and relapses of prominent show business personalities causes real harm to a movement whose devotees  feel does better to function in relative obscurity and anonymity.  

However for sometime now I have applied the media axiom that "there is no such thing as bad press" to shows like Celebrity Rehab.  Today I believe that the representation of any aspect of the addiction continuum: use...mis-use...abuse...dependency...addiction...treatment...relapse...and recovery, raises the level of public discourse and can only be beneficial.  Of course there are those who are drawn to Celebrity Rehab by lurid curiosity to make fun of and ridicule the once famous.  Others revel in being voyeurs to the antics of the "spoiled and pampered" as they detox from a life of excess.  This past season's crop of celebrities were particularly resistant to treatment and only a small percentage have continued to work a strong recovery program as of this writing.

But as one in recovery who has learned from 12-Steps meetings the importance of the concept that it's the similarities and not the differences I have with others who struggled with the same demons of substance abuse and addiction; Celebrity Rehab has become a sort of on-line meeting for me.  A virtual "speaker" meeting if you will (for those familiar with recovery) where I come to hear and to bear witness to the experience of many...the development of strength by some and the recapture of hope by a few.

During the season there is never a week that goes by that I am not reminded of the power of the disease of addiction and the collateral damage it causes to those around the addict.

So mark me down as a devotee of Dr. Drew now....a recovering alcoholic and addict who is now an addict of Celebrity Rehab.

January 26, 2010 at 11:11 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 11, 2010

Crack Cocaine

When my cell phone rang late last night I didn't recognize the number but I knew immediately who it was.  I had been working with him for some months now.  The youngest son of a good friend; he had been in and out of recovery...struggling with addiction that had led him deep into crack cocaine.  Three days ago he had disappeared, left his home...his job and his loved ones and returned to the pipe.  He is 24 years old, the same age my son would be if he had not died of substance abuse at 16.  He looks a lot like Dave especially his eyes.  If I am rigorously honest, as my recovery program teaches me to be, there is no question I was drawn to him from the beginning because of the similarities to Dave both physically and situationally.  I acknowledged a long time that had David not died that day of his addiction and was alive today any number of scenarios might prevail.   He could be in recovery, he could not be in recovery, he could be in jail, he could be homeless, or he could be where this young man is spirally down to some unknown bottom of despair and hopelessness that only he can determine.

The conversation was a short one.  He wanted me to meet him at a gas station near the crack house where he was staying.  He needed money he owed his dealers.  They had taken his car and if he didn't get them the money he owed they were going to kill him.  He finished his plea by saying he would go to treatment if I helped.  I told him I would not give him money for his dealers but that when he was ready try recovery again I would there for him.  He didn't argue just sounded resigned...said OK and hung up the phone.

In my heart I knew I had said and done the right thing but there was no solace in that.  The tears welled up in my eyes and I felt like a broken bottle had been thrust into my gut.  I wanted to crawl up into a ball and just cry.

GOD I hate this disease.  

January 11, 2010 at 08:50 AM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

January 06, 2010

It Was The Best Of Times; It Was The Worst Of Times

These words open Charles Dicken's immortal Tale of Two Cities and for the past month they have haunted my waking moments as I have struggled with the holiday stretch that begins with Thanksgiving and ends on New Years Day.  For those who have experienced the tragic loss of a loved one and those who grapple with substance abuse addiction and recovery, this time of year, with it's heavy emphasis on family togetherness, can accentuate a loss or cause the return of unwelcome memories of the painful consequences our addiction has caused family and loved ones. 

This year was no exception for me.  For several weeks I was continually unsettled and yet could not get at the core of my discontent.  In 12-Step Recovery there is a well established axiom that when we are disturbed by something that we must always seek within us to determine the source.  And so it was after many 12 step meetings and conversations with my fellow recovering addicts and alcoholics I was finally able to confront the specter that haunted me. I discovered that it was rooted in my distaste for the Media's desire to capsulize the past decade (ad nauseam) in terms of endless lists of the "Best" and the "Worst". 

 I found that it was this simple retrospective exercise itself that brought back the pain of recalling this was the decade in which I lost my youngest son to addiction.  For many years after his death in 2001 his loss eclipsed everything in my life....blotting out all joy and hope.  The mere mention of any event that occurred during the months before and after his death immediately would darkened my mood as grief would again wash over my heart. And as time continued its relentless march, always against my wishes and in spite of my protestation, I myself turned to drugs and alcohol in a vain attempt to make my pain more bearable.  The initial relief from grief I found in substance abuse was of course only temporary; for when the grief returned it came with a vengeance that took me ever downward causing the greatest pain to the ones I loved the most.  Yet when the decade and my existence seems at it lowest point... the love of my family helped me see that substance abuse and addiction treatment was the best path for me out of the darkness.  Treatment did open my eyes to the promise of recovery and it was through a 12-Step Program and meetings with other addict and alcoholics that recovery became a reality for me. 

The reality is that today, and for some years now, life is better for me than at any other point in my 58 years of existence on this planet.  It includes the tragic loss of a son in this decade most recently past, my own descent into addiction soon after, my admission to a treatment center for substance abuse and my on-going recovery from that addiction.  I would give anything to have my son back but my recovery was and is a priceless gift that came as a result of his death.   For that I will be grateful to him until I meet again and can hold him in my arms once more.

So for me the decade 2000 - 2009, with my apologies to Mr. Dickens...began With the Worst of Times and ended With the Best of Times....

January 6, 2010 at 12:46 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack