I have officially broken my own anonymity per the 12th tradition of all 12 step programs. I broke it for the need to speak freely about what addiction is and isn’t and what recovery is and isn’t per my own experience. Clearly I’m writing this because of the recent passing of Whitney Houston, but it’s been bubbling up in me since the passing of Amy Winehouse. It nags the shit out me to see the joke addiction is made out to be in this society, as if it is some signifier of inferiority that only the weakest of society are afflicted with.
Guess what? That man negotiating million dollar deals on the 54th floor of your nearest sky scraper, is smoking crack in his office after board meetings cause he can’t take the pressure. Your son’s 3rd grade teacher that is always so great with getting him to do his daily reading, is tweaking meth while her class is on the playground. Not convinced? Sigmund Freud was a damn coke head! Addicts are everywhere and the sooner we start acknowledging addiction as a disease like diabetes or heart disease, the better off we’ll be as a society.
For starters, addiction has more to do with obsession and compulsion than sheer sloth. It is a disorder of the brain, and it’s treatment often consists of a multifold approach. My own course of treatment has included: outpatient rehab, 12 steps, meetings, prayer, meditation, and therapy (and that’s not even everything.) You see, contrary to popular belief one does not pop into rehab, pop out after 28 days and go on living their lives normally. Recovery from addiction takes work and a lifetime of work at that. How is it then that we expect people who are in the lime light to “get their shit together”. I can barely shuffle my shit into the same building much less get it together after two years clean, but I’m getting better :).
When I heard of Whitney’s death, I was in a room full of recovering addicts. We talked, some cracked inappropriate jokes ( laughter being the 2nd cousin of fear), some sang songs, but the sentiment was the same: She was one of us, and she never “got” it. It saddens me when I see the requisite apathetic tweets and facebook updates after tragedies like these. “She/He brought it on her/hisself” or “Yeah, but A MILLION people are dead in (place 3rd world country here)”. I challenge these types of people to take a good look at what addiction has done and is doing in THIS country. Incidents like these are opportunities for us to take our own inventories, not platforms for self righteousness.
Ain’t it the American/Human way. We dress people up, call them our “darlings” and when they stray from our expectations of them we seek their complete annihilation. Fame is so dangerous in that way. Just for today, I’m good with being regular assed Stacey R. from Elizabeth, NJ trying to piece together this thing called life with a lil’ help from my friends. If any good can be said to come from the recent deaths of Amy, Etta (the wear and tear on her body was drug related y’all), and now Whitney is my resolve to stay and live clean, is that much stronger.