Today is the fifteenth anniversary of my living clean and sober, free from the grips of a long, secret prescription painkiller and alcohol addiction.
I went to sleep last night imagining the grief of the family, children, friends, colleagues and fans of Mr. Hoffman. His gifts, so powerful, his demons, more so.
I awoke to the love and support of my husband and family and friends and fellow sober folk who trudge and share, linked in our common recovery from the grips of a disease that killed my brother at 21 and a friend's son at 20 and, and, and...
What we rarely talk about are the deaths of the unknown soldiers and civilians, the non-famous. Their deaths, no less sad and tragic, their families' grief, any lesser.
What is clear is that it is a disease, that it is progressive AND that there is recovery. You can try for recovery at the myriad places and facilities and programs that will help you, for a price; and then there are rooms all over the world that will offer you a seat and a safe refuge that cost nothing but your desire to recover.
There are plans to try to curb the prescription drug dependence epidemic. The FDA is considering reclassifying the Oxycodone drugs that have become ubiquitous with a current group of addicts, myself included, so that it is harder for an addict to obtain it. That comes on the heels of the possible legalization and decriminalization of marijuana. I don't have an opinion on that, there are many others more suited to discuss the pros and cons -- but it is a concern.
Depression and other mental health illnesses are also a pathway to seeking relief through pharmaceuticals. It feels like the time has come to redouble our dialogue about mental health care, talk therapy, group therapy, drug courts rather than prison. The mental health of our returning war heroes seems first and foremost to me.
You can start by first educating yourself about the disease of alcoholism and addiction and then reach out into your own family, your own community and see what programs you can get involved with.
To just read about Mr. Hoffman and then agree that it is sad and then do nothing to help another, seems the waste. Not his death but our communal inaction to it.
I am going to try to lend a hand, try to help another and try to relate this very sad moment to my own salvation, one day at a time.