Monthly Archives: February 2015

Another Celebrity Relapse: Josh Hamilton

Josh Hamilton, a professional baseball player and former Major League Baseball MVP who has a highly publicized drug addiction, reportedly suffered a relapse and will face league discipline.  This is a sad blog for me to write as Hamilton is one of my all-time favorite baseball players and role models.  As a hopeless drug addict several years ago, I read Hamilton’s autobiography detailing his addiction and recovery and immediately connected and gained a ton of hope for someday finding recovery for myself.

Hamilton was the number one draft pick in the MLB and was one of the most highly sought after high school baseball players of all-time.  After he was drafted, however, he got involved with the wrong group of people and eventually got addicted to crack cocaine.  His addiction went very deep, ultimately resulting in him being banned from playing professional baseball and the sports world labeling him as one of the biggest disappointments ever.

Eventually, Hamilton had enough after several years of crack addiction and turned his life over to God.  He gained some lasting sobriety and worked his way back into baseball and developed himself into a household name in the sport.  That is when Hamilton wrote his book, inspired thousands with his story of recovery and turned into a role model for thousands more.  He eventually signed a contract with the Angels that will pay him a total of $125 million dollars when it’s all said and done.

And now, after he relapsed-reportedly on cocaine and alcohol-we see how powerful the disease of addiction really is.  Addiction does not discriminate!  It doesn’t care if you are homeless and living on the street or a professional athlete making millions of dollars every year.  An addict is an addict and we all deal with a progressive (when not treated) disease that never truly goes away.  Oh, how much I wish I didn’t have to write this blog!  Writing on the relapse of one of my role models in recovery is not something that excites me.  However, when I heard of his relapse, I immediately thought, “Wow, this is one powerful thing we deal with.”

Addiction is so cunning.  If we don’t treat our disease every single day, anything can happen.  It is so important to deal with this 24 hours at a time because when we don’t, well, this is what happens, even if you’re a famous millionaire.  A condition of Hamilton’s reinstatement into baseball was that he be drug tested three times a week.  That means Hamilton knew how big of a risk it would be that he would get caught if he ever used, and he still got high.  That just shows how fierce of a grip this disease takes on those who battle it.

If something good can come of this story, I hope it’s, one, that Hamilton comes back from this relapse even stronger, and two, that people will realize that recovery needs to be taken serious and treated one day at a time.

One can only hope that Hamilton gets back on his recovery program, whatever that may be, and that the world stops judging him.  So many people on social media are ripping him apart, which is a tragedy in itself, to know how far society still has to go to realize what addiction really is, not being a moral deficiency.

If you are reading this, I pray this touches you in some way down deep in your heart.  A man, struggling with his addiction, the whole sports world watching him, many trashing him.  Say a prayer for him, and say a prayer for you or anyone else battling this disease.  It does not ever go away, and we can never, ever, take our guard down.

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Enabling Your Loved One’s Addiction

The Ingham County Chapter of Families Against Narcotics had their monthly forum last night and the guest speaker was Shannon Miltimore Oliver, a licensed therapist at Allegiance Recovery Center in Jackson, Michigan.  Shannon was there to speak about co-dependency and enabling that’s done by family members and loved ones of addicts and alcoholics.  She gave a beautiful presentation and it got me thinking about the subject.

Addiction is truly a family disease.  It doesn’t just affect the addict, it has an impact on everyone around him or her.  One of the things I loved about Allegiance (it was the rehab I attended and helped me get on the road to recovery) was that they put a large emphasis on treating more than the individual.  They do whatever they can to involve the family members and loved ones of the addict in the addict’s recovery plan, including featuring a family day every week where family members come in and get educated on the disease of addiction and recovery.

Maybe most importantly, though, is the fact that they educate family members on what they can do to help.  When I was sentenced in court one time to go to rehab, the judge also made it mandatory for my parents to go to Al-Anon meetings, a support group where family members learn how to find recovery for themselves, in a way.  Yeah, I said recovery for FAMILY MEMBERS.  It is crucial for family members to learn how to control what they can control and not exhaust all their energy into getting help for their loved one.  It’s one thing to do what you can to get your child or loved one some help, but it’s another to drive yourself crazy in the process.

The judge sent my parents to Al-Anon because he realized my parents were enabling my addiction.  They weren’t actually giving me drugs or anything like that, but the fact that they were continuing to let me live in their home and were being manipulated by me was a form of enabling.  For family members who are new to dealing with recovery, learning about enabling can be a VERY scary thing.  They may realize that, though they are not responsible for their loved ones addiction, they may be doing things that allows the addict to continue in his ways.  How Shannon put it last night was perfect: “enabling prevents an addict from hitting their bottom.”

Below is a list of warning signs of enabling that is on the Families Against Narcotics website:

  • Do you rationalize the addict’s irrational behavior?
  • Do you make excuses for the addict?
  • Do you loan money to the addict over and over again?
  • Are you surprised when they use the money to get their next fix?
  • Do you end up finishing projects that the addict never completed?
  • Do you pay their bills?
  • Have you bailed them out of jail?
  • Have you paid their legal fees?
  • Have you ever called in sick to school or work for them?
  • Have you cleaned up their messes?
  • Have you believed their lies?
  • Do you blame yourself in part for the addict’s behavior?
  • Have you lied for the addict?
  • Have you covered up for them to avoid embarrassment?
  • Do you think that you can fix the addict?
  • Do you give them one more chance ˜ time after time?
  • Do you threaten to leave but then never do?
  • Do you threaten to kick the addict out but don’t follow through?
It is important to remember that we did not cause their addiction nor can we “fix them”. We can, however, change the way we treat and react to their addiction.
Specific Actions To Stop Enabling Behavior
  • Do not lie for the addict.
  • Do not make excuses for the addict.
  • Do not loan them money.
  • Do not be their alarm clock.
  • Do not bail them out of jail.
  • Do not pay their bills.
  • Do not be afraid to file a police report for theft, violence, etc.
  • Do not be afraid to obtain a restraining order if necessary.
  • Do not clean up their messes or destruction.
  • Do not remain in arguments.
  • Do not make ultimatums if you are not 100% confident that you will stick with it (sharynsslant.hubpages.com)

This is not easy and many of us find ourselves “relapsing” back to our enabling behaviors. But in the end, it just might be the most loving and important thing we can do.

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Massive Drug Overdose At College in Connecticut

11 students at Wesleyan University, a college in Connecticut, were taken to the hospital on Saturday after an apparent mass overdose from taking a drug known as “molly.”  Two students are in critical condition in the group overdose of the drug, which is a pure form of Ecstasy.

Two of the students were flown by helicopter to a hospital due to the extent of their symptoms and it sounds like the medical personnel did great work and saved some lives.  Several students who witnessed the alleged drug consumption said the drugs were taken at a party at a co-ed group house at the university.

Molly is a popular drug on college campuses around the country and gives a euphoric sensation that produces an effect similar to amphetamines combined with some hallucinogenic effects.  The big issue with molly is that it’s man-made, so you never know when you’re going to get a bad batch, like what apparently happened with these students.

I just want to stress the dangers of just taking a drug.  The underground world features a diverse range of drugs, many of them man-made, and every single one is dangerous.  If only one or two of those students at Wesleyan overdosed, it probably wouldn’t have even made a blurb in that area’s newspaper.  Overdoses are happening every single day in every state in the country and I would put money on an estimate that over 90 percent of them are not publicized.  Just because nobody hears about it doesn’t mean it’s not happening, however.

If you are reading this, say a prayer for the student’s and their families.  If something good could come from this, it’s that those students will wake up and learn from this and that none of them died.  Sadly, drug overdose kills people everyday.  Lets take a stand.  Recovery happens and sobriety is fun!

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Standing Up For Recovery

The other day I was watching ‘The Anonymous People,’ a movie/documentary that came out a year and a half ago advocating for the recovery movement and encouraging recovering drug addicts and alcoholics to start stepping out of the dark and stop remaining anonymous.  It was the second time I’ve watched it and this time around made even more sense and motivated me to write this blog.

‘The Anonymous People’ was put together beautifully and did a wonderful job of giving a history of the recovery movement, starting with Bill W. founding Alcoholics Anonymous, then talking about the 1960’s and 70’s when celebrities, congressmen, doctors, writers, and well-respected individuals started speaking up and telling the world they were recovering addicts/alcoholics.  According to the movie, all of that progress took a major blow in the 1980’s when Nancy Reagan started the “Just Say No” campaign and Ronald Reagan and George Bush responded to the crack epidemic by creating a war on drugs and called drug users, along with drug dealers, America’s biggest threat.  Once that happened, people stopped telling others they were in recovery because being an addict was turned into a shameful, immoral choice.

I could go into great detail about the effect the “War on Drugs” had on the recovery movement, but if you are reading this blog, you most likely know it was a huge failure and has cost billions of dollars while not accomplishing anything besides increasing the incarceration rate.  What I’m writing this blog for, however, is to voice my support for anybody in recovery to stand up and not be embarrassed.  If you have not seen ‘The Anonymous People,’ please watch it.  It is available on Netflix and can be found in some stores or online.  It is one of the most powerful documentaries I have ever watched.

You see, the more that recovering addicts and alcoholics stand up and stop being ashamed, the more others in addiction will feel comfortable enough to reach out for help.  I totally understand why one might not want to tell people they are in recovery.  There is oftentimes a stigma attached to saying that and people have jobs, careers, neighbors, friends and reputations to hold up.  However, the stigma is not going to change if we continue to hide in the shadows.

One thing ‘The Anonymous People’ pointed out was maybe we can start changing the wording of recovery.  Instead of saying, “I’m a recovering drug addict,” we can say “I’m a person in recovery,” or “I’m in long term recovery.”  It’s all about changing the stigma and becoming visible.  Instead of only talking about being in recovery in a church basement during a 12-Step meeting, how about being proud you beat an addiction and telling others about your triumph?  It’s time to be proud of recovery, encourage others to step out of the dark, change the face of addiction, and not back down.

It’s time that addiction is treated as a life-long disease instead of a moral failure, but until we start standing up and act proud that we are in recovery, nothing will ever change.  It’s time to not only be a person in recovery, but to be a VOICE for recovery.  To quote the ending phrase of ‘The Anonymous People’:

“Silence equals death.  I won’t stay silent anymore and I hope you won’t either.”

If you are in recovery from an addiction or alcoholism and would like to share your story on this blog, please let me know.  I would love to tell your story and show others reading this that recovery is possible and worthwhile.

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‘Parks And Recreation’ Exec. Director Harris Wittels Dies of Apparent Overdose

Drugs have apparently taken another immensely talented individual.  Harris Wittels, known best for being the Executive Director of television show ‘Parks and Recreation’ and a writer for ‘The Sarah Silverman Program,’ was found dead on his couch yesterday from an apparent drug overdose.  He has been in two rehabs and was found with drug paraphernalia near his body.

Wittels was only 30 years old and brought so many diverse talents to the world.  He was also a comedian, has appeared in shows with acting stints, played in a band, and even wrote a book, Humblebrag: The Art of False Modesty.

He has talked quite a bit publicly about his drug addiction and said it got out of hand when he began taking oxycodone – a prescription opiate – after a hard breakup and, like so many others, advanced to heroin a time later.

What is really sad to me in all of this is that just a day before his death he talked of sobriety in a stand up gig, saying he was in a “good place.”  This just goes to show how hard addiction really is and that so many out there want to beat it, but just can’t.  One day a well-respected person is talking of being in sobriety, and the next he is found dead on his couch.

Pray for his family tonight and also for anybody else you know in recovery or struggling with addiction.  This disease is taking so many, it’s time to take a stand.

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