In fair warning, this post may offend some readers who have lost loved ones from substance abuse whether illegal or prescription. My stance on addiction might come off as insensitive but, to be blatantly honest, I have little tolerance for those who throw their lives away.
Calling addiction a disease is nothing short of an excuse for relapsing. Cancer, multiple sclerosis, and ALS are diseases. A ten-year-old girl undergoing chemotherapy for Ewing’s Sarcoma did not did not stick a needle in her arm to inject herself with cancer. An athlete slowly losing mobility in his limbs did not snort his way into a wheelchair bound life. Lou Gehrig did not inhale his motor neurons into paralysis. These people do not have a choice in their outcomes. They suffer from true, life altering diseases that leave them succumbing to a force beyond their control. If they had the choice, would they choose to let their bodies deteriorate? Would they choose not to live? A disease does not offer a choice. Addicts choose to drink, smoke, snort, and inject themselves into incoherent stupors that all too often lead to death. Calling addiction a disease is unfair to those suffering without an option to fully live.
I read an interesting article written by actor/comedian Russell Brand, a recovering addict who hasn’t used alcohol or drugs in ten years, asking for compassion for addicts. While I find his point of view compelling, I cannot show compassion for those who succumb to their vices knowing that I could have very well chosen the path of illegal intoxication. Any of us could have. I applaud those who break free from the reins of recreational anesthesia; however, I’m skeptical on whether or not they can stay clean. If the will power to resist all temptation is great enough, I have no doubt life long sobriety can be reached. Unfortunately, the struggle to stay clean often overpowers the strength to succeed. The recently deceased Phillip Seymour Hoffman is a perfect example. After 23 years clean, he decided life was too “hard” to face sober.
Actors and musicians all too often falter to drugs. Hoffman is just the latest casualty to the addiction bandwagon. Last May, he fell out of sobriety and spiraled back into his former life eliminating “recovering” from his title of addict. Former Disney Channel star and on-again-off-again girlfriend of Justin Bieber, Selena Gomez, checked herself into a two week rehab center last month. While her reps deny substance abuse, it has been found that Selena battled addiction to Molly and prescription drugs such as Xanax and Ambien. One does not scratch the surface of addiction recovery in just two weeks which leads me to believe she was not serious about battling her demons.
Why? That is what I would like to know. Are people using drugs to fill a void? Are they using to feel? Are they using to slash the notion of their perceived innocence? Are they using simply because they have the money? Hollywood flaunts wealth openly and without concern. Thanks to TMZ and US Magazine, we know which stars host the most elaborate parties with the priciest bottles of champagne. Having an unlimited income does not make recreational drug use legal, healthy, or safe. It turns a person into a coward because he can no longer think for himself. All of my respect gets thrown to the curb once I find out a person uses- famous or not.
No, I do not understand the mental state of those who use drugs let alone depend on drugs. I never had the desire to lose myself in anything stronger than sugar. My insistence never to try drugs, not even pot, has absolutely nothing to do with self-righteousness. I value my brain; I respect my life; and I never do anything just because everyone else does. Needless to say, I was never part of the “in crowd” because I followed my own path. I always stick to my intuition, and it tells me that I have an addictive personality. I could have smoked marijuana to forget the surgeries I had to endure, but growing up, aside from hospital stints, was fun. If I started, who’s to say I wouldn’t move to heavier drugs for a more powerful high? I never intend to find out the answer to that question.
I’m not saying that just because people smoke marijuana they will fall into heavier drugs, but even addicts start somewhere. I understand that those who are addicted to anything whether it be drugs, alcohol, or food, face psychological issues which make it more difficult to stay healthy. Do I think addiction should be taken seriously? Absolutely. Is it a disease? No.
Too many lives are shortened by drug and alcohol use. Hoffman will not be the last Hollywood icon with a career ending addiction. The unpublished list of celebrities battling substance abuse grows daily. Some we’ve heard about. Most fly under the radar. Drugs and addiction hit closer to home, too. We are all connected to someone who perished from an overdose. When will we learn the dangers of drugs? Overdosing may be the means of death, but it does not kill. Drug addiction strips away layers of a life slowly until one day nothing remains.
Stay clean. Stay sober. Stay strong. Stay alive.
31. They tried to make me go to rehab… – “Rehab” by Amy Winehouse