Did you lose anyone you loved in 2017? I did. I lost several friends last year to this deadly disease we call drug addiction. I think back to one particular amazing person. She had been to 34 treatment centers over the course of her life. But she was doing really well for decades. I was lucky enough to be a part of her journey.
But when I got the news about her death, I was profoundly affected.
This malady, this disease – it is relentless. It never stops. You can be doing good for years and years and then the next day, you’re dead.
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2017 was a tough year for my circle of friends. Two of my musical acquaintances who suffered from addiction took their own lives.
Maybe I’ve become callous over the years. I expect young people to die. I expect the staggering increase in overdose deaths in the US. But what I don’t expect, what no one can expect, is for close friends, people I know and love, to lose the battle and die from addiction.
So, when I see a young 22-year-old, battling addiction and the baggage that comes with it, it is so hard not to get discouraged knowing what they are going to face for the rest of their life.
Addiction is a deadly disease, and anyone who tells you it is not is a liar.
Still in America, when you die it doesn’t say “alcoholism” as the cause of death, it doesn’t say “addiction” as the cause of death, because those are not acceptable American Medical Association causes of death. Rather, you die from asphyxiation, endocarditis, liver failure, or even natural causes.
I can tell you that lifelong drinking and heroin addiction is not a natural cause of death.
Young people, hear me: you don’t age out of addiction. It won’t just go away when you reach a certain age.
I have seen addiction go dormant for long periods of time. People live their lives and think they have beat it. You can feel whole again and function at a very high level. Then all of sudden something tragic happens and your battle comes back ten-fold. Drug addiction can come back with an intensity that you haven’t experienced before. And it’s scary to think about. But it needs attention. Being vigilant is crucial for drug addicts because this disease never truly goes away. You can become better at coping with it, but as soon as you let your guard down or get lazy or something traumatic triggers it, it will come back.
Life changes constantly and it can change in one simple change of lane on the freeway. We addicts are not very wise at understanding just how fragile life can be.
I want all my sober brothers and sisters out there to know that I am with you. We are on the same journey. I am doing alright now and I hope you are too, but remember this is something you carry with you for the rest of your life.
So, let’s be more vigilant this year. Let’s love each other, maintain a community of sober people, stay accountable. I believe in love and honesty, and I think we owe it to each other to be real, knowing that addiction doesn’t really ever go away.