He wakes up at 6am sharp, jumps into the shower, and goes downstairs to eat breakfast. He grabs a cup of coffee, kisses his wife and kids goodbye right before rushing out the door to go to work. He works hard from 8am-5pm, comes home and spends time with the family and goes to bed every night at 9pm. On the outside this is Johnny American, The perfect father, husband, and neighbor. What you don’t see is the addict next door.
When he wakes up at 6am, it is because he is starting to experience withdrawal. He has to down a couple of pain pills to even get moving. After saying goodbye to his family he rushes out the door to meet someone to buy enough pills to get him through the day. When he gets home he spends time with his family, but is thinking about getting high the whole time. Eventually he goes into the bathroom and downs another handful of pills. By 9pm he is beginning to nod so he goes to bed. This is the addict that lives next door.
Most of the time we imagine a drug addict as a homeless, penniless, dirty beggar. The truth is that an addict is your next door neighbor, your postman, the police officer in your neighborhood, and even the local priest. Addiction crosses all rungs of society.
I was a police officer and a drug addict.
A friend of mine is a priest and recovering alcoholic. I used a pharmacist that was in recovery from drugs. My old doctor was a recovering drug addict. My postman was a recovering alcoholic. Addiction is so cunning that it convinces us that only dirty street people get addicted. Rich people don’t get addicted. White people don’t get addicted. Black people don’t get addicted. My child doesn’t get addicted. These are all the lies that addiction tells us.
Someone once said that the greatest trick the Devil ever played was convincing the world that he didn’t exist. Addiction does the same. It tells you that it won’t happen to you. I found my grandfather, a prominent lawyer, dead when I was 6 years old. He died from his alcoholism at the ripe old age of his early fifties. That was the first time I had ever seen death and it was the first time I knew that addiction kills people. Since that time I have watched over 70 friends die from the disease of addiction. They ranged from farmers, chefs, artists, an IRS employee, and the list goes on. Some were overdoses, some suicides, some car wrecks, some were health related problems brought on by drug use. Regardless, they died because of their addiction.
There is no type for an addict. They come from all walks of life and all income brackets. They come in every race, creed, religion, and sexuality. Every addict deserves the chance to live a different way. Until we come together, let our voices be heard, and help the still suffering addict come out of hiding, we will never beat addiction. We are politicians, lawyers, doctors, nurses, police officers, firemen, priests, preachers, teachers, mailmen, black, white, Asian, gay, straight, bisexual, transgender, Catholic, Baptist, Jewish, Buddhist, atheist, Hindu, rich, poor, American, Canadian, Mexican, Irish, English, African, Chinese, Australian, Middle Eastern, and all worth saving. Stand up and tell the world, I am an addict and I am a person. #voicesinrecovery