In case you missed the news yesterday, this happened, Phillip Seymour Hoffman died.
This left a lot of people, both industry insiders and fans, scratching their heads and feeling shocked and saddened by the senseless loss. There was another loss last week, one suffered by a good friend of mine. Someone she loved very much was taken by his own demons and choices. These losses have left me sad and angry. They shouldn't happen, but they do on a daily basis.
I've read comments from people who can't understand how a seemingly happy, talented, successful, gracious, father and friend could succumb to something like heroin. Other people are quick to point out sanctimoniously that he "chose" to shoot up. Still others cast dispersions on the departed and talk about how they had a responsibility to be an example, or "they got what they deserved". No one deserves the hell that is substance addiction.
I think Simon Pegg said it best when he tweeted this morning:
"The trouble with addiction is that you can park the car but you can never switch off the engine or stop yourself from hearing the revs."Addiction is a very real and very ugly disease. It is insidious and creeps up on you and robs you of your joy, health, and sanity in seemly innocent ways. Addiction never goes away, NEVER. It doesn't matter if you've been clean and sober 1 day or 40 years, it will always be there. If you're an addict and you're lucky, you get clean and you stay clean. But the sad truth is that most addicts relapse at some point in their lives, sometimes several times, because there is no "cure".
You may be sitting there reading this and thinking "I'm not an addict, this doesn't apply to me." and you're partially right. You may not be an addict, but I guarantee you that at some point in your life you will know an addict, whether you're aware of their addiction or not. At some point you may become an addict, in spite of your best intentions. Start to understand what an addict feels by reading this article by Russell Brand.
Addicts aren't just nameless, faceless junkies living under freeway underpasses. Addicts are friends, parents, grandparents, aunts & uncles, nieces & nephews, cousins, siblings,co-workers, bosses, church goers, etc. They look just like you and me. The only difference is that something has a hold of them and they don't know how to escape. It could be heroin or prescription drugs or alcohol or any number of destructive substances or behaviors (gambling/porn/etc).
Be prepared and know the signs of addiction for yourself or others:
Then, be prepared to do something about it:
Care enough to not enable. Care enough to not judge. Care enough to say something. Care enough to just listen...because the last thing an addict wants to hear is your preaching or your attempt at trying to relate. Unless you've been where they are now, sharing your life challenges/struggles and comparing them to what the addict is going through isn't really going to help, and it may make the situation worse. It isn't easy but you don't want to have to live with the thought "I could have/should have said/done something." When something goes horribly wrong with the addict in your life.
If you're struggling with addiction please ask for help! Go to someone you trust and talk to them about what you're going through. If you're clean but feeling like you might relapse, go to a meeting, or at the very least talk to someone about what your feeling. These websites can help you get in touch with an AA or NA group in your areas: www.aa.org & http://www.na.org/
Please remember that you are not alone and that there are many people out there who understand your struggle. There are so many people who are ready and willing to help you or your loved one fight addiction, but they can't help you if you don't seek them out.