Monday, February 3, 2014

Addiction, Mental Health and a Society That Fails to Understand Either

Philip Seymour Hoffman died yesterday. He was found with a needle still wedged into his arm, heroin believed to be the culprit.

When I heard of his passing yesterday, it hit me in the gut a little bit. Not because I know him, not because I know his family members or friends. Not, much to the dismay of what some may believe, because he was an award winning actor.

It hit me because he isn't the only face of addiction, he is just the most recent one. He's just the face that most people recognize, the one that we were familiar with, the one that we came to love through his work on the screen.

Whenever someone famous dies, there seems to be this immediate attempt by far too many people to make their life and death insignificant, as though the death of a celebrity somehow negates the death of all the other people who died on that given day. People attempt to place more value on the lives of some people, less on others, claiming that the celebration of the death of a celebrity is a misplaced outlaying of our efforts. I argue the opposite, obviously, particularly in situations like this one where there is so much opportunity for us to learn about addiction, about mental illness, about why lives end this tragic way.

The opportunity is there, without question. The issue is whether we, as a society choose to seize it, or whether we chalk this loss up to drug use and wave it off indifferently as another selfish life wasted.

It seems we do the latter.

Plenty of opportunities have been presented to us in the past, of lives abruptly ended this way. Of people who happen to be famous, but also struggle with the same demons that many of us ordinary folks do, meeting sudden death in this way.

Philip became addicted to heroin after struggling with abusing prescription pain medications, an all too familiar and increasingly common path to this addiction. This is not the addiction we want to think it is, the sordid one that happens in alleys, nor is it one reserved only for those in positions of privilege. Heroin doesn't discriminate. Its use is up 75% in the past few years, and the demographics of the users have shifted. 

It's easier to think that drug addiction happens to other people, to them, over there. Reality tells us that it happens far more often than we want to believe. It's a false sense of security.

Chances are that someone you know is addicted to drugs right now, you just may not realize it.

Or you do know, but you hide their addiction because of the social stigma. 

Or you don't hide it, but you shame them instead. 

Or you don't shame them, but you slowly phase them out of your life because you don't want to be around them anymore or because you just can't do it anymore. 

Or you keep them around, but talk about them behind their backs, discuss how sad it is that they refuse to get help, vow to be better than they are.

Or they do try to get help and sometimes they get better for a while. 

Or they relapse and die just like he did yesterday.

The trouble with drug addiction is that it really isn't about the drugs, no matter how much most people seem to believe that. Drug addiction is a means to an end. It begins usually as a way to try something new, to try and get high, to try and transport yourself somewhere else, to try and just feel better for a minute.

Most drug use is self medication for the things that people either can't or won't cope with in real life. The root of most of all that? Mental health conditions, the huge piece of this issue that we find ourselves ignoring all too often every time drugs are involved.

Nancy Reagan taught us all that drugs are bad. D.A.R.E. programs taught us that users are criminals, they are bad people. No one ever bothered to tell us that the vast majority of them were in need of help from a mental health system that largely doesn't exist.

And you know what happened?

People believed them. I can't even begin to tell you all the things I saw flying through my newsfeed yesterday in the wake of his death. Proclamations that he was selfish, that he was a waste, that he should have been happy because he was rich and famous. People who decreed from the mountaintops that if he would have just tried harder, he would have been better. That it's his fault that he died.

In reality, he struggled with depression most of his life. He got clean. He was recently in rehab.

Addicts don't want to be addicts.

Addicts don't want to die.

Addicts don't want to throw their lives away.

Addicts don't want their children to grow up without parents.

They just want to feel better. They just want to feel normal. They just want to stop feeling everything else for a little while.

Addicts are people, just like you and me.

Addicts come in all forms, dependent on many different things, drugs just being one version of dependence.

The problem is that our system is limited, laboring under the illusion that drug addiction is a criminal issue, a medical issue on the fringes that can be fixed with proper rehab. That all ignores the fact that drugs aren't the problem...what led that person to drugs in the first place is the problem. The drugs are just a means to an end.

Rehab doesn't fix addicts. It primarily treats the physical symptoms of withdrawal.

Prison doesn't fix addicts. It just puts them in a cage for a while.

Even death doesn't fix addicts. It just leaves the people who love them here, forever wondering how different things might have been.

The only way to really deal with addiction is one that is multi-faceted, one that makes us uncomfortable. It is messy and complicated and takes a lifetime of effort. It sometimes involves relapses and second chances and third chances. It involves support, sometimes sponsors. It involves therapy and counseling until whatever the root cause is has been revealed and addressed. It involves consideration of not just the physical withdrawal, but the emotional withdrawal, the social withdrawal, the psychological withdrawal. It requires a mental health system with adequate resources, which clearly doesn't exist. It requires us to do better. It requires support instead of judgement.

And sometimes, even when all those things exist, it fails. It fails because addiction can take people and swallow them whole. It can rob them of everything they value, everyone they love. It can strip them of everything they care about, rob them of reason and logic. It can convince them that they aren't worthy, that they have failed not just themselves, but everyone else. It tells them that they are broken and irreparable. Then it shoves them back down and does it again.

Our society says it failed because they didn't try hard enough, because they were selfish, because they were stupid.

How exactly is saying things like this going to help anyone?

The short answer - it isn't. It just allows us to believe that if we try hard enough, if we care about other people enough, if we are smart enough, we can avoid addiction. Our false sense of security hurts those who need help the most.

Never mind the damage done to the people they leave behind.

To those who claim Philip's death isn't tragic, I ask you to think about his children. I'm sure they would disagree with you.

Until you've been there, you can't know what it is like.

Until you've watched someone you love try and claw their way out only to be dragged back in again, you can't know what it is like.

Until you've seen someone throw everything away just to feel better for a moment, you can't know what it is like.

Until you've dealt with someone desperately in need of help who turned to self medicating instead, you can't know what it is like.

Until you've had to tease out where the line between believing in someone and enabling them is, you can't know what it is like.

Until you've had to make choices no one should ever have to make, you can't know what it is like.

Until you've done all you can to help someone who doesn't want it, you can't know what it is like.

We all have our demons. We all have our issues.

Many of us are closer to being addicts than we would ever admit out loud.

Some of us know how easy it would be to turn.

Some of us are addicts already.

Some of us already walk the line.


Rest in peace, Philip. I hope you've found some now. My love to all those who loved you. 

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Before anyone makes assumptions or accusations about what I will and will not post as comments, please know that my site will only load a certain number of them. I can't even see all the published ones at the moment. I do post comments from people who disagree, however, if you are rude or disrespectful, it's not getting posted. 

384 comments:

  1. My dad is an alcoholic, has been clean for about 14 years. I used to go to AA meeting with him twice a week. My sister is a current meth addict. I think that addiction is not only a mental health issue, but also hereditary. I have an addictive personality, it is very hard to quit doing things/seeing people/etc, even if I know they're toxic. Quitting somehow feels like failure, continuing to do the action somehow seems like failure. It's not so black and white as some try to make it. I have avoided hard drugs so far, and I hope to never use them, but I know I am not above it, and it can happen at any time. I just hope my sister doesn't die from her addiction, and I hope my dad doesn't relapse. I hope this country one day grows a bit more empathetic, and starts really addressing mental health issues and addictions..

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    1. Anonymous..... Prayers for you and your family! Mental illness is hereditary! I know...it is hard to see family members killing them selves. Please take care of yourself. Get medical help....it does work!!!!! Its not easy to get family members help , when you do not have the money.... Or know what to do to help.

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    2. alcohol and methamphetamine activate the same "pleasure centers" in the brain...as someone with more than an affinity for both....i feel for your family...i don't feel bad for myself....anything i do i have brought on myself....but i do feel bad for my parents/siblings and my wife/children...luckily tho i have always been able to keep my demon in the box....but it's a constant struggle not to say to hell with everything.....

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    3. First off, I want to wish you and your family health and well-being. It takes a strong person to stay clean after addiction has already had a strong grip on them. And I'm glad that you have stayed away from hard drugs yourself, but there is also some specific encouragement that I want to give. You said, "I have avoided hard drugs so far, and I hope to never use them, but I know I am not above it, and it can happen at any time." This leaves me wanting to tell you two things. 1) You are in the driver's seat of your own life and the more strongly you take responsibility of your own choices, the less it will feel like drugs are something that can just happen to you. The more centered and clear you become, the more capably you will be able to make good choices about what you want to do with your life. I also choose not to look down on addicts, or become condemning of them, but it is also safe to say that once they have passed the honeymoon phase when the drugs are still genuinely fun, they don't quit, because they are unable to find enough desire and willpower to overcome the pain and frustration of their addiction when their need has not been quenched. 2) The other thing is that the more deeply you can cultivate a healthy sense of self-love and self-care and self-esteem, the more that the decisions you make will genuinely be good for you. And the more that you will genuinely be capable of offering something good to the world around... The more you will be able to support your family in their struggles. Be well and good luck.

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    4. I can not thank you enough for your input. I to have spent sleepless nights, praying through the days, and waiting once again for that call to come as it has in the past. For us it has been a chemical imbalance that struck with such thunder it took us all with agonizing reality of its danger. It has been over 15 years and I am still learning much about his metal illness. I know what it like to see the agony and despair while looking into those eyes that display so clearly the fear that comes with each episode. Sadly, the medical profession knows so little about mental illness. Even with all the years of their education this illness seems able to disguise itself in such perverse and varied forms that it seems to have been brought to life by the devil himself. We are lucky to have family ties and we stand as solid as a family can in these days of such easy access and acceptance of "anything goes" life style that is so prevalent today. I am so in aw to read your words. Not only do those who "linger" (not a sufficient word to describe this all encompassing disease) in and with mental illness, but there are so few support groups for families who do not have an understand or recognize the pain "behind" this illness. Shame on this failure in our healthcare systems. Your 1 & 2 should be shared with the masses. Thank You! Please allow me add my (3). Regardless of where our roots come from, we are all created with a divine soul when we enter this world. Fragile though it may be... it is resilient. That soul must be embraced. It is a tragedy that so few find the tools they need to feel that divinity within. I guess that is what you were referring to in (2). After reading back over these words they seem so hollow when I personally know what it is to always feel like life is an up hill battle. But in this walk there are periods of grace and light along the way ...sometimes, we just don't look up to the source of that light. God bless you for your insight.

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    5. To all of you who struggle due to the addiction or alcoholism of loved ones, there is help for us. I am an adult child of alcoholics and the mother of a recovering heroing addict. Al-anon has saved my life and whatever sanity I can claim today. There are meetings all over the world. If you aren't comfortable venturing to a meeting in your area, there are online meetings too. Please take care of yourselves. We cannot control or cure our loved ones, but we can help ourselves.

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    6. Noone is in their own "drivers seat and has the "power or control....only a higher power and surrendering to it is the key.

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  2. Beautifully written. Addiction and mental illness - it's in my blood, in my veins. And I know in a split second, I could turn into "that" person…into my mother, my father, my aunt, my sister…I struggle every day to stay "normal." My heart bleeds with compassion and sympathy for family members - celebrity status or not. Because we are all human, full of imperfection. There is no making sense out of it. And yes, whether we want to admit or not, we're all walkin' the line, day by day, second by second...

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    1. Kristal, I can really relate to your comment. I, too, have been surrounded by addiction and mental illness my entire life. I consider myself lucky that I have resisted the pull to just "escape". I pray for those who have not been so lucky. It really is a fine line, isn't it?

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  3. I can't kick the alcohol love/hate habit. I agree...if we didn't walk in his shoes, you can't judge how he felt. very well said as always.

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  4. Thank you, Kelly! What you wrote is so true, it brought tears to my eyes, it made my heart hurt. I lost my first brother to ALS, I believe in my heart that had he not passed away from Lou Gehrig's disease that he would have died from an overdose. He was addicted to pain meds and overdosed several times before ALS took his life. He was a hard working husband and father of 3. He loved his family with all of his heart. My 2nd brother passed away in March 2013. He took his life one morning after going through severe withdrawal all night. He had been injured after a fall from a tree which caused him to be partially paralyzed. He suffered severe pain everyday, his pain meds were no longer working, no matter how many he took. He would take more then prescribed to try and take away the pain, he was an addict. He was one of the most kindest persons I knew. He never said anything unkind about or to anyone, he loved his family with all his heart. He didn't want to ever be a disappointment to anyone. I miss my brothers everyday. Two of my children have battled addiction, it started off with their biological father taking his life, then came the pain medication being over prescribed to them by orthopedics. To me there is nothing worse then addiction! My boys did not want to be addicts! Addiction is a monster that grabs ahold and does not want to ever let go. I have sat through NA meetings with them, holding their hand, both of us crying. I have seen them curled up in pain, screaming for the pain to go away. I have seen one go from pain med addiction to heroine, I couldn't sleep at night because I would lie awake thinking at any moment there would be a knock on the door from the police saying they had found my child dead. My Child did not want to be an addict! My boys are very loving adults, they would do anything to help anyone in need. They do not have the confidence and self esteem in themselves. I hate when I hear people talking about addicts as if they were all bad people, it is so not true! Unless you have been in either their or their families shoes you have no clue. Thank you again, Kelly

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    1. My heart breaks for you. I lost my Mom from ALS. She was sick for 2 years before she died. My son is a Heroin addict. He also suffers from bi-polar disorder. His addictive behavior and his bi polar disorder were inherited from his Father. I have been in a day to day struggle with my sons Heroin problem for 12 years running. He has been in & out of prisons and rehabs and hospitals. He may have chosen to do Heroin long ago but it is no longer just a matter of choice. If he could choose now I know he would not choose the life he has. I know he would not choose drugs. He tries to get clean & stay clean but Heroin has such a hold on him. I live in a world where I am constantly walking the line between loving him and enabling him. He is not a boy. He is a 29 year old man. All the things you wrote... I have seen them too. I just felt the need to reach out. I just want you to know you are not alone. I feel alone but reading your post made me once again realize there is nothing special about my addict. There are a whole host of people out there. Sorry for your troubles. Much love, Laura from Massachusetts

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    2. Beautifully said. I hope& pray everyone truely unerstands it one day. ?..

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    3. This all starts with a choice. You either chose to do the drugs or not. I have been there, I have an "addictive personality" but I'm not an addict. Have I tried a drug, sure. Not my smartest choice and I wish I didn't. Yet, I told myself this is not what I want and not how I want my life to be. I want my life to have meaning and value. I want to know I am doing something greater than myself and that I stood for something. People think life in general has meaning and value. I don't believe that. Life is a gift and the value comes from what you do with that gift. It is always sad when someone dies because that gift is now gone for them. But the look back is the value part of life. Did he or she have value? Did he or she bring honor to others? Did he or she do something for the greater good? That's the part of value. I do believe in helping others. But others have to TRUELY want to be helped.

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    4. Sometimes the people who have overcome an addiction are the mist judgemental. It is ironic. No disrespect intended but what worked for you doesn't necessarily work for others. And every single life has value. My brother was addicted to heroin and died at the age if 25. But he was so much more than his addiction.

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    5. I agree that addiction is a CHOICE! I have been around it for 30 plus years. All I hear is excuses. "It wasn't me that said you should have died instead of mom, it was the alcohol" ...another excuse. "It wasn't me that stole your checks and cashed them for drug money" yet, another excuse! More power to the addicts that can admit they were wrong. The ones that take responsibility for their actions, I respect and support you in your sobriety! But the one's that lay the blame on everyone and everything else do NOT want to be clean and sober! My family has had money and valuables stolen, we have been victims of physical, mental, verbal abuse and more for over 30 years. Even after all of this we have rallied behind this addict offered our help, enrolled him in rehab, supported his recovery. We have had it just as bad as the addict, BUT we do NOT choose alcohol or drugs to take the pain away. We choose GOD, family and friends. We do not know what else to do to help anymore. No matter what we do to try and help, we get hurt. We are tired. Good luck to all, addicts and loved ones of addicts.

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  5. This is too excellent. Thank you for writing it. xo

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  6. This is great, I love seeing REAL, understanding aticles written about how addiction really works in the lives of so many people. Thanks.

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  7. In my lunch room at work I sat and almost cried as I watched a news recap about the news of his death. It wasn't his death that made me want to cry...of course I want to cry about that as well, but what really made me want to cry was the group of women sitting at the table next to me who were throwing stones and saying how pitiful it is that he did that to himself and that he was selfish and he was famous so he could and should have gotten help. With every comment that came out of their mouths, I cringed. I cringed because this is not the first time that I've heard comments like this when famous people pass due to overdoses. I wish the world was more educated about mental illness and drug addiction. I'm not saying that all drug addicts have a mental illness, but I do think that a majority of them are facing some sort of demon in their life. As someone who has faced depression and anxiety for over 15 years, it saddens me that people do not realize that mental illness and addiction is a disease. Until you have felt that pain deep within yourself and/or watched someone go through that pain, then there is no right to comment--actually there is no reason to throw stones at all. I'm sick about what happened today, and I'm so thankful I saw your article and know that there are some people in the world that DO understand....excellent article!

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    1. You have better restraint than I, Anonymous. I might have gone down there and given them some information. I kicked my son out in September, and I'm so much healthier now than then. Physically, mentally and spiritually refreshed. my son's in a Dept of Corrections halfway house by court order. i have a restraining order against him. I don't know if he'll reach his bottom this time or not. I pray so. err,Sorry, guess that had to come out. Back on topic, I admire Mr Hoffman for his accomplishments. I HATE this Disease of Addiction.

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    2. I have the same problem with my son, we are in our first rehab situation, with outpatient counseling. I guess this is never going to end, from what I have read. Yes this is causing physical, mental and spiritual pain to our whole family.I still have hope that he will be able to control his addictions. I pray and cry everyday. I think throwing your son out was a good idea. Addicts think we should support their behavior. I am not willing to do that! I support you!!

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    3. It's never going to end for the addict. Your son, if he's serious, will need to take certain measures every day of his life to protect his sobriety. If he's serious and willing, he may change. And he may become the most wonderful son you could have ever imagined. I say this because I have seen it happen countless times. There is hope. There does not need to be life-long heartache. I hope everything works out for you and your family.

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    4. To the mom who says, "Addicts think we should support their behavior", I strongly suggest you get to an al-anon meeting, or visit an open AA meeting. Addicts are sick and suffering. They will engage in addictive behavior whether you support them or not. The CHOICE on if or how you support them is your own. I have been on both sides of addiction; as the addict, and as a family member. You must take care of yourself and get treatment for the illness that addiction has caused your family. I hope you find peace, and that your sons finds a happy full life.

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    5. Thank you Debie for writing this... It is a beautiful article and is SPOT ON!
      I hope you get a Gazillion hits and everyone reads what you have said.

      People need to understand how mental illness, substance abuse, and addictions are interrelated and about their true widespread prevalence in, and costs to, our society. About one in five Americans suffer from these problems sometime in their lives (that goes up to one in four for women, and one in three if you are a veteran). That is A LOT of people. Obviously these suffering individuals should not be treated as throwaways, they are often some of the most creative and giving people on the planet. If our culture truly gets behind making some changes we can help these people (and their families) and allow them to continue to prosper and contribute to our communities, just as they were always meant to.
      I have struggled with these issues almost my entire life. I have friends and relatives that have been killed by these problems. I know that this isn't always the case but in my personal experience not one of these people I've lost were criminals, or even considered to be 'bad people'. However the aftermath of their deaths created huge losses and dealt crushing blows to those around them, and those can ripple on for decades.
      We can make this better. We have the know how; the information is out there. The numbers even support that by fixing these problems the societal costs are easily justifiable in the long-run. We just have to commit to doing it.

      Thank you again... Sincerely,
      -Hopeful in Atlanta

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    6. Thank you for your very accurate account of an addict, the family and our society. It is truly an uphill battle everyday for these people- I know first hand and have lived the "hell" most of my life- I am thankful everyday that I didn't inherit the gene and can support those who need our help Signed- A daughter of an addicted mother and a mother of an addicted son

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  8. Yes mental illness and addiction can often go hand in hand. And both are very much treatable

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    1. IF properly identified. IF there is a support in place. IF a person is lucid enough to accept or understand the addiction of help.

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    2. IF a person is lucid enough to accept help or initiate it himself. IF the person has a support system. It's way too easy to look in from afar.

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    3. Lack of power,that was our dilemma. Spirit verses spirit.Great article. If you've never experienced this hopelessness find someone who has recovered, not just physically, anyone can do that,but how they stay stopped

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  9. This is the best post that you have written. The medical treatment of mental illness and addiction in this country is appalling.

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  10. Its sad that people don't see that all they need is the love of Jesus! I can do all thing through Christ who strengthens me, this is so true! I know! He is our healer.

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    1. I believe in God more than many people that go to church every Sunday but I still suffer from horrible anxiety. For you to say that faith will stop ANYTHING is wrong. You act as though having faith will protect someone from something. God has his own plans and I am sure he didn't share them with you.

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    2. How wonderful for you .... and that kind of claptrap dribble is what has made the treatment of mental illness and addiction almost non-existent and made it more of a criminal matter.

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    3. There isn't any god..Its all in your head.Your strengthening yourself,Little do you know,,,

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    4. "Your strengthening yourself,Little do you know"

      Is there something wrong with that? My observation has been that a great deal of people who have had the fortune of "beating" addiction did so through God. I can't say I'm a religious man myself, but I say whatever works.

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    5. I am a minister, and a person who has suffered from depression and anxiety most of my life. As the Apostle Paul suffered from the thorn in his side that he did not know why God chose not to remove, I would say that not one of us can say what God will or will not do. While I have my good days and bad days, yes, I do continue to trust in Him. He led me to a wonderful Christian psychologist and I have the support system I need through understanding friends and family. I have an addictive personality that fortunately my fear of not being in control kept me from "going there" after trying the easily accessible drugs in high school. I thank God for my circumstances because it has helped me have compassion for people who are hurting, rather than issue a blatantly judgemental "if you would only be like me you would be perfect like me statement." God made each of us unique, which means what works for you may not work for me. I would never look at a person having a heart attack or bleeding uncontrollably and say that didn't need medical attention they just need Jesus. While at our core our search for "something" is a need for Christ, please don't dismiss the need for the proper mental heath issues to be addressed by someone trained in that field.

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  11. This is the best article I've read on the issues of addiction and mental health. There was just one sentence that I don't fully agree with, "It involves a mental health system with adequate resources." I believe it's inadequate.

    I am not an addict, but have often had to take prescription pain medications for my knee and my back. I do have mental health issues: depression and panic disorder with agoraphobia. I've been dealing with these issues since 1995. When I must take these pain meds I go off of them as soon as I am able to, taking my xanax and sleeping for 3-4 days to avoid the deep depression and suicidal thoughts until they're out of my system. I went through some hellish times until I figured that out.

    I am on my third psychiatrist and seventh counselor, because it took that many for me to find those that could truly help me. Before my current psychiatrist and counselor I had a psychologist that over medicated me. I finally begged my GP to help me; one look at the medications I was taking and he knew what was wrong. The counselors were another story. Two in particular stick out in my memory. The first was a "New Age" kind of counselor that listened and did teach me some techniques for dealing with panic, but it wasn't enough. Another was so afraid of my husband that she didn't want him to ever see her. He had Borderline Personality Disorder. She was right to be afraid, but did nothing to help me. It was pure serendipity that I found my current counselor, the only one that has helped me and given me the tools that I needed to help myself.

    My assessment is that no one teaches us things that we need to know, e.g. how to set boundaries, what abuse is in every form and how to deal with it. If we taught these things first in our society we just might have a healthier society. An ounce of prevention truly is worth a pound of cure.

    I don't think I'll ever be the strong, confident woman I once was, although I won't stop trying. However, I now know that I must accept some of my limitations. I don't have many friends and family members have distanced themselves from me. I don't know what the answer is. Before she died my mom said, "I want my old Joanne back." In tears I said, "What if she doesn't come back, mom?" I had two breakdowns after an awful, emotionally and verbally abusive marriage that caused my then 13-year-old daughter to attempt suicide. Our lives were forever changed.

    We need to help people know what to do; we need to help others learn how to be supportive, not to just abandon those we care about.

    You are right that until we walk in another's shoes we don't know what it's like to deal with what they're dealing with. But compassion and support should be a part of it. And frankly, I couldn't imagine being famous or rich, nor would I want to. That brings a whole ' nother set of problems. Thank you again for a wonderful article.

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    1. Joann, I agree with you, we aren't properly taught boundary systems, coping mechanisms and factual information about addiction/drug abuse! I have struggled with drug use most of my adult life. I have tried therapy but get frustrated when my therapist tries to put me on a RX drug to fix my addiction. I was diagnosed ADD and prescribed what is basically time released methamphetamine. My therapist seemed confused that I was upset about being prescribed what is basically another hardcore drug, just in nice RX packaging.

      I enjoyed the sensitivity of this article. I know every time I've gotten sober I've swore never to relapse and with every relapse I feel like a total piece of sh*t. Its a pretty evil cycle. I.am determined to be free, to not give up, to keep learning and exploring to find better ways to communicate and cope with pain and not do drugs to make it go away. You're right, compassion and support do help. When I feel that others around me are expecting me to relapse, it does add to that "well, may as well" attitude and I'm going to find a way to stop letting that happen to me.

      I enjoyed your comment. Thank you.

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    2. I want to commend you on this article. I am a mother of an addict (heroin). Our 24 year old, youngest son has been fighting an addiction of opiates, due to a very serious dirt biking accident when he was 15 years old. The narcotics helped him with the pain. However, after a year of being on prescription meds, he could not get the high he once felt with the pills, he turned to heroin. As most opiate addicts do - to "chase the dragon". It has been years of heartache, fear, tears, constant worry and concern. This is an epidemic of monumental proportions in this country. My question is: Why does it take the death of a celebrity to shed light on this growing problem that affects most families in our country ? Our government and media have no idea how to handle this situation. It is a shame that we live in this country of opportunities, and yet, our very own family members, loved ones, friends, and neighbors are dying every day from this aggressive epidemic. I pray every day for the people affected my this tragic situation. I hope that we can reach out and help each other. If we do not, then who will? This problem needs a VOICE...a VOICE to educate others that this is not "someone else's problem". A VOICE to say we are all affected by this in one way or another. A VOICE to say that it is essential to start the conversation.

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    3. Joanne1225, wow I am a mother of two sons who have bi polar type one and type two. i have said the same thing to them both while they were on medications and younger they appeared to be functioning fine.. then we moved and the state we were in would not approve the medication that worked for them. they were placed on a hand full of medication (over-medicated) and couldn't even function i had to led one around by the shirt sleeve to prevent him from walking into walls and cars! They both decided that since the system wasn't going to help them get well and they had given up a year of their lives being over medicated they would stay the course without treatment. for almost 6 years I dealt with their severe mood swing and the handful of times they nearly KILLED one another, my worse fear through all of this. including the depressive states where they would attempt to end their misery. Then there is law enforcement which don't have a clue as to how to handle people who suffer from mental disorders. Okay while i know some medications do work for some.. not all medication work for all people. that said why does out society want to medicate people who think differently? this only tells people that there is something wrong with them and they need medication to be normal. when not everyone with mental health issues will find an answer. i think they need to take more time to nurture the people who think somewhat differently from the ones who fall into the "normal" category. take the time and nurture them as most of them tend to be more advanced than the average person, maybe so much that the guidelines that the majority live within are too sparsely outlined and they need a bit more time to understand how simple the rules really are. I may be all wrong, but my children are not inclined to hurt or harm a soul. rather it genuinely concerns them after an altercation when they realize someone may have been hurt by their actions or words. they truly are remorseful. So rather then medicate and numb their minds, would educating them and not labeling them make more sense to you or do you find that the medications are an essential part of proper treatment? I would certainly like to hear your inner most thoughts on this. and thank you in advance

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  12. Very well said so true this wss beautiful rest easy phill rip

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  13. We still have so far to go when it comes to mental health......sad

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  14. I am a recovering Addict.....With 16 years of sobriety that was without a doubt the most accurate, descriptive, factual article I ever read. Truly covered all bases of what it is like in all aspects of being an addict and how it affects those around us, right on down to the thought processes. WELL SAID.....DeBie....

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  15. So well said and spot on...thank you.

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  16. The disease of addiction is probably the only disease in the world that tells us that there is nothing wrong. It tells us that we are hurting no one including ourselves, that we only do a little too much dope or drink a little too much sometimes ! As a recovering addict with 9 years clean after over 30 years of trying to kill myself on a daily basis with drugs and alcohol I realize that this is bull shit. I spent all of that time in active addiction being an embarrassment to my friends and family, and a liability to people I came into contact with. I pissed away over 30 years of my life trying to find that magic drug or combination of drugs to make me normal. Today I realize that normal is just a setting on my washing machine and I am alright with that! Thank God for the people in recovery who came before me who showed me the way and the ones who came after me who show me that the hell of addiction isn't any damn better and I don't have to try it again. My daily prayers are always for the sick and suffering, that they can find the daily reprieve that God and the program of Narcotics Anonymous has given me !!!!

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    1. 38 years of alcohol abuse with brought me to final stage alcoholism along with liver disease, and 38 years of nicotine addiction and all the drugs you can name from glue to cocaine. But For The Grace of God and AA coming up to 14 years of uninterrupted sobriety with no mind altering substance or even an aspirin... Trust God, Clean House, Help Others...

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  17. I just wanted to say thank you. This is everything I've wanted to say and more. Thanks for being the voice of addicts and their families and friends everywhere.

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  18. Wow . . . Debie, I have never read an article that hit it out of the park like this one. Dead on accurate. Deep, deep -- to the very core of addiction. Very intimate understanding of what it is like. Thanks for this public service!

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  19. well I agree with some of this is some of this I don't.I don't think the fact that a celebrity dies of drug use negates the fact that other people have issues as well. I think most of the population recognize it because it is a familiar face that we know of. obviously would be impossible to see everyone face with drug addiction, so therefore we can recognize their issues. nonetheless it was a great actor and it's a shame but he died. for the rest of the population of dealing with the same issues it is unfortunate that we can put a face to the name. so I don't feel guilty for not recognizing everyone that has it but certainly sympathize. that said I believe its okay to recognize the loss of Philip Hoffman..

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  20. BEST WRITE-UP I'VE SEEN ON THIS ALL DAY.
    MEDIA HAS INFURIATED ME, THANK YOU FOR YOUR SHINING PERSPECTIVE.

    ;)~ jaymancash

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  21. I really enjoyed reading this! Beautifully written. There is only one thing that is crucial to recovery I didn't see listed, God, or 'Higher Power'. I'm coming up on 7 years sober and it took a lot of God and a lot of action. In my fellowship I have seen a lot of drug addicts succeed and I have seen some die. By the grace of God I didn't take to drugs like I did Vodka, but I can tell you miracles DO happen, I have seen them! The thing that helped me the most (especially at first) was getting involved in a twelve step fellowship in addition to treatment. People who will become some of the greatest friends you will ever have because you share a common solution. Nobody is ever a lost cause. My thoughts and prayers...

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    1. God worked for you. God does not work for all.

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  22. This article is outstanding, it is the truth and society needs to get with this understanding of addiction. As a recovering addict, I know what it is like to wake up every day hating myself, hating using, but doing it anyway, I didn't know how to stop! I am sharing your article and I hope others can be open minded enough to see that what you wrote is the truth about addiction, its not about the drug. Thank you so much for writing this.

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  23. I am a recovering addict and I would like to thank you for this article. It was honest, factual and true. The best writing in the topic Ihave ever read outside if my recovery programs literature.

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  24. I have never read a post as well written as this one. Just felt the need to tell you that. It address so many issues that I am dealing with in my own life. Thank You!!

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  25. So many opinions, so little knowledge, so many so quick to judge. Media has rooted itself so deep in our lives that being always happy, or always strong is what we should be doing and what a "good" life is. There is nothing wrong with feeling sad or unhappy. It's part of life. But being always sad and unhappy is part of a life many of us live and try to hide and chemically drugs feel just like happiness in our brains...its no longer a question of why wouldn't we or why we do...its how. How do we learn to change it? How do we find out that being a slave to addiction is actually more simply a slave period. In addiction you are just that, a slave. Your thoughts, feelings, and actions are not yours and are those of a trapped, powerless, and hopeless individual with no way out but to comply or die. Learning you have another choice is a thought we may not know even existed. I didn't. It was the how that began my new life. No longer questioning the why. Anytime you slip back, which you inevitably will, you need to be ok with why and focus on how. How can I change? How can I get better? When you figure that out and know that in time the rest will follow, you will find real happiness again. I can promise you that. All the other who, what, where and when answers will then fall in place as well. But you should ask yourself first one thing, do you want to be a slave forever? Because nothing is ever going to be your own if so.

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  26. I am sitting here reading the comments with tears streaming. Just look at all the people you have touched, and this is only a few. I know there is so many more that can't or won't comment. I really hope that this starts to change the way our society thinks and talks about addiction. The only way is to continue to talk about it, show empathy and live it. Everyday. This, what you have done is amazing. YOU are amazing. xo

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  27. Thank you for writing this. Addictions can come in many forms, and you are right, all of us know an addict of some sort. I do weep for his children though, I truly weep for them, because anytime they go online they will see all of the hate and stupid written about their dad.

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  28. Recovery is often unsuccessful without belief in God, a Higher Being. I was raised by a maintenance alcoholic. I am sad that we lost such a great talent. I am not surprised about how he died. My mom sobered up and all she ended up being was a sober drunk. So I too was not surprised when she relapsed. I have run out of fingers and toes to count the lies she said in regard to this bad habit. As time went on it got worse, she started to mix RX with the alcohol. I remember looking at her medicine cabinet and it looked like a pharmacy. I was so mad at the Doctors, they knew she was a addict, why prescribed more addicting things for her to ingest..Sometimes the Medical world makes it even harder for the addict

    I will miss his acting, and my thoughts are with his family
    I keep thinking what great acting we are going to miss

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  29. Addicts don't want to be addicts.

    Addicts don't want to die.

    Addicts don't want to throw their lives away.

    Addicts don't want their children to grow up without parents.

    They just want to feel better. They just want to feel normal. They just want to stop feeling everything else for a little while.

    Addicts are people, just like you and me.

    Addicts come in all forms

    Youre absolutely right. Addiction will consume everything youve ever loved, and pull it away from you and your life. But the last thing it takes, before it takes your life, is the only thing it really wanted to begin with. Hope. And once its gone, it wont be long before you are too.
    it would be nice if I could do the things I wanted to do again.. instead of all these things that i dont want to do. Jammed everything good in my life. It shouldnt. Be very hard Now

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    1. precisely, the problem begins when we try to medicate using drugs to change a person is the beginning of a never ending cycle in their lives. if the man-made chemicals do not help they turn to street drugs for answers. and when they never find a solution it ends them first. this is a big loose loose scenario that our system has created. they should try to spend more money on giving them the nurturing they need to channel all their energies and creative thinking to mold their lives to benefit them the best way not try to numb their minds to think like everyone else..

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  30. I am an addict. My addiction to prescription drugs led me to heroin use also. By the grace of God I have put together some sobriety again. I have been sober twice before, both times for over a year. Your article is so true it's about finding the root cause of why I turned to drugs. Also I have never lived on the streets and was brought up in a suburban home with everything I needed. Heroin is an epidemic and it's effecting families from all walks of life. It's time that our society realizes that if the addict isn't out committing crimes, they are not criminals. We don't consider alcholics criminals just because they are alcoholic. And Alchol, heroin, and benzo's are the only drugs proven to kill you from withdrawl symptoms. I think it's time we start asking why all of this heroin has started flooding into our country since the Afghan war. It's not a coincidence.

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  31. Very insightful and very true. My heart breaks for this man's family. He was a very talented actor and his death is tragic and sad. I've walked there and everyday ask God for His infinite and unconditional help. Thank you for sharing this.

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  32. Beautifully written, poignant, and true (learned from experience).

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  33. I'm sorry, no. Every comment I've seen about this on social media is how sad it is, not calling him selfish. And when you list how people respond to addicts and make every one sound negative, what are they supposed to do? One of my friends is currently in prison after stealing due to an addiction. I've been there for him through recovery, relapses, hatefulness and severe depression. I now am "phasing him out of my life" because you know what, I can't do it anymore. Neither can his family. Whatever mental health issues exist, SOME responsibility has to lie on the addict. Are we so quick to sympathize with pedophiles? They obviously have mental issues...they are addicts too. No. It's not ok to blame mental health problems or your past when you do things that directly hurt other people, scar your children. Some people go through life, through depression, through terrible abuse and make the struggle to live a positive life. I'm not saying we shame those who don't, I'm saying stop making them the victim.

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    1. And I'm saying you don't have a freaking clue about what happens inside of another human being. Can't wait for your millstone to one day become the shame and stigma to everyone you know so that you can finally understand the kind of pain some people live through in their daily lives. Try walking a mile in another's shoes before making the kind of blanket statement you just made. Idiot.

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    2. I would walk a mile to rehab. People do it every day. I won't apologize for believing that everyone is responsible for their own actions. Someone has to defend the people surrounding the addicts, the children that grow up without parents or raising their parents, watching them destroy themselves and feeling like it is their fault. It's so cute how your reply is at the base about tolerance, yet you resort to name calling when you disagree with an opinion different than your own.

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    3. I second that.

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    4. I agree with this to some extent. While it's unfair to believe all addicts are criminals, I think it's equally unrealistic to say all addicts turned to drugs because of depression. What about people who tried drugs because they thought it was cool? Because they just wanted a way to get a high day after day? I sympathize with Hoffman and feel the loss (partly because of his documented depression), and I get that it's addictive, but I think for some people, they made that first step into the drug world doing something purely because they believed it would be entertaining.

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    5. Oh man. I get the frustration that people surrounding addicts have, as my brother was a polydrug user. A drug changes something. That is what it does. It doesn't matter why someone takes it necessarily. It matters what they end up avoiding while on it. Why can be helpful sometimes but for those who use for social reasons (anxiety, anger, depression) can be silenced out. If the drug does nothing they won't use it. As for writing them off. People have to be responsible for their own actions. Lets face it we want to treat addiction but if you do something illegal (besides the drug itself) you need to be accountable. Arresting someone for something they can't put down is a waste of our money and their time. People who try drugs don't think they will get addicted. They made a choice (which we make when we are given prescriptions btw) that the benefit outweighs the risk. We take meds to get better. They take drugs for the same reason. Should we condemn people who just want to feel normal? It is hard as the sister of a recovering drug addict to ignore the ugly side drug addiction. When my brother was on drugs he didn't care about me. He had a monkey on his back. I have the strength now to say he took those drugs and man was he hard to deal with but so was the pain inside. He took the to be cool but those weren't the demons in his closet that had him coming back.

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  34. Wow! Awesome article. I am not addicted to drugs. But I truly believe I am addicted to food. I feel like I am slowly committing suicide by food. I am over 300lbs and recently diagnosed diabetic. I also suffer from Major Depressive Disorder and have sleep issues. I have tried many antidepressants, in fact, trying a new one starting this week. Please let this be "the one".......please......

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  35. I loved this article and it is so true!! I come from what most people would call a "normal" family. I am 29 years old with a 7 year old daughter. I am a drug addict! I was in detox and rehab over this past summer and would have been clean for almost 6 months and I relapsed. It's a hard thing to deal with I wish I wasn't addicted to drugs because if I wasn't I probably would have so much more in life. When I was a little girl I didn't say when I grow up I want to be a drug addict no one imagines that this would be there life. Addiction has many different faces. Thank you so much for this article it is put together so well and hits the nail right on the head!!

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  36. Does this hit home!
    I'm taking my nephew to a Detox doctor tomm. and am praying that this time will be the last, the miracle we all want for him!

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  37. Thank you for saying what I have been thinking since I heard the news of his death!

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  38. Thanks for continuing this dialogue about mental illness and addiction. So many just don't know what the real problem is, and think that the answers are easy. They are never easy.

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  39. I mean this in the most respectful way. EAP and horses can make a huge dent in this issue/problem. Hazeldon in MN added an EAGALA model program and EAP for their clients and both the revolving door shrinkage and lasting change have been tribute to the horses! There needs to be more research done on substance abuse recovery and EAP, it will take time but once it is there, many lives will be saved from themselves. EAP treats both the inside and the outside of addiction, and it all comes from self discovery so the person involved lives their own change, because of and along side of the horse(s). Google addiction and EAP (equine assisted psychotherapy). We are in New Jersey. Spring Reins of Hope and Spring Reins of Life.

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  40. I am an alcoholic sober for 12 years and have a stepson that is clean? from a prescription drug addiction for almost two years and have struggled with the support/enabling fine line, the choices you never want to have to make, the identifying of the root cause and realizing when I read something like the death of Mr Hoffman what a long road we all have to stay clean and sober.....It is a job, a lifetime commitment that can never be forgotten about, never minimized, never taken a vacation from fighting, and one that is absolutely never understood by others. I am deeply saddened for the loss of Phillip and for his family and what they will struggle with in the years to come.

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  41. Should alcohol be legal? Easily attainable addictive drug!
    It kills the person and everything around them. Could be the worst drug out there.
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    1. I'd say nicotine is worse. Most people who drink won't develop a problem; most people who smoke will develop serious health problems from it.

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  42. I really appreciate your words. I suffer and deal with depression on a daily basis. I was somehow lucky enough to not go down the road of using illegal drugs to self medicate but I suffered with alcoholism for awhile. I got help. But a lot of people aren't lucky enough to find help that works for them or they have a bad episode and relapse. When I heard about Hoffmans death I felt so sad for him. I am sure he didn't want to die this way as I am sure no one addicted to drugs does. I like how you bring to light all the other people in the world who suffer and die from drug abuse as a means to escape their own minds. I wish there was a way to help these people. Thank you for your words...I hope they open up the eyes and minds of people who can be so close minded on this subject.

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  43. so beautiful and thoughtful! thank you for adding empathy and understanding to this. thank you for having a hard conversation. thank you for giving love.

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  44. Thank you so much for this post. As a parent of addict and having an addictive personality myself, I do know what it is like. Feeling tired and like I've had enough, Ive found myself ready to give up. Your post has opened my eyes and my mind. I have to work on changing my thought process and be stronger so that I can give more upport and help to my loved one. THANK YOU!

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  45. One of my close family members is an addict. Addicted to alcohol. One of the slowest killers of them all. My Mom has been addicted for 19 years. 8 Relapses...3 suicide attempts...countless shameful acts later and still using, now, worse than ever. I used to believe, as her daughter, I could save her. I tried everything from isolation, anger, tough love, understanding, ignoring her problem, support which sometimes turned in to enabling...every avenue you could imagine. It IS a disease...a plight...a darkness. It is SO incredibly difficult for the addict to WANT to even BEGIN healing then to REMAIN in an active healing state for the rest of their lives is the true plight. This disease's recovery is a constant commitment...never a break. An addict is NEVER healed but always healing for life. They have to truly want it for themselves and only themselves. So now at 35 years old, I know I can't save her. But after everything I've tried, I simply can not and will not abandon my Mom due to her disease or talk about her shamefully. So my OR is...OR you continue to have them in your life with healthy boundaries... make a choice to live in the confines of a tough relationship...offering your presence or a phone call as a bright moment in their day...and hope and pray they want to get out of the darkness someday.

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    1. The family members can become as sick or sicker than the addict. Alanon is helpful for the family members to learn to let go of over responsibility for the addict /alcoholic and putting the focus on myself and the things I can change. I was so broken and angry when beginning my journey in recovery. The support I have received from God and others who share their experience strength and hope is priceless.

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    2. I took a 10 week co-dependency workshop with 9 other women who also lived with addicts. It changed my life. I stepped outside of a place I wasn't even aware I was in. I started to look after myself and stopped enabling.

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  46. One thing comes to mind as I sit and read all these comments, now that you've expressed your hearts and souls regarding the lack of connection between mental health and addiction ... what are YOU going to do about it?? If you aren't willing to speak up and become the VOICE that is lacking ... who will?? You can commend someone for eloquently stating what you feel, but, until you take some kind of action, what are you really doing?

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    1. I truly believe that speaking up on Blog posts like this one, is part of being a voice. That maybe, someone will read one of this post along with the replies and be inspired to understand that connection, find solace that they are not alone, in either healing as an addict or being a person with a loved one who is an addict. Even the smallest contribution like this IS being a voice. Sharing with others IS being a voice. This dialogue is action. When writing my contribution to these comments earlier, I was hoping someone who needed some light or another perspective would find it within my post. If not from all the others that have been shared here. So again, THIS dialogue is taking action. No matter how big or how small an action is, if one person is helped then it was worth it.

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  47. Hello.
    This article was fantastic.

    I am a recovering Crack Addict. My cousin was a crack addict and is currently in jail. My Dad was a crack addict, and was in a coma for 3 weeks, when I was a teenager. MY step-brother was a crack addict.
    I started as a way to forget that my ex-fiancee was getting engaged. It sounds stupid now, but that was my reason.
    I was a functional addict for a long time. Still going to work, still paying bills, still getting high.
    I got laid off, but maintained my addiction. Things got bad. I spent $60,000.00 in 6 months time in Crack.
    I spiraled. But still managed to keep it a secret from all of my family. It was not until I cleaned up. Cold turkey. No meetings. No sponsor. Nothing. I am not saying this way will work for everyone. But, it did for me.
    I never wanted to be an addict, and did not think it would ever happen to me, but it did. I am better now.
    Clean since December 26th, 2011.
    It's hard, everyday is another reminder to stay clean.

    But to all those addicts out there. The strongest and bravest thing to do is get help. Nobody will view you as weak. And if people get mad at you, they are most likely projecting the anger they have for themselves for not seeing it.

    You can do it.

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  48. My son died 21 mos ago from a pain med overdose. I feel so bad for not knowing how to help him or understanding everything he was going through. I wish I had read your article when he was alive. The guilt is hard to live with.

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    1. It is not your fault. There is nothing anyone can do for an addict. The desire to get clean can only come from them and them alone. I know this because I myself am in recovery and have also lost many friends and loved ones to addiction. I learned through time that I am powerless over others. No matter how much knowledge o had of addiction or recovery I was NEVER able to help someone who was not willing to help themselves. I am so sorry for your loss. And I must insist that you never blame yourself. As a mother I'm sure you did the absolute BEST you could have with what you had and knew. IT IS NOT YOUR FAULT!

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  49. Ya know friends... Sobriety does not involve relapses unless you want it to. The only reason people relapse is because they don't surrender to the dame disease.
    Ya just gotta quit feeling sorry for yourself and pray like you have never prayed before.
    Three simple things keep e sober, don't think, don't drink and go to meetings.
    Please, we have enough dead addicts out there, you have to take this seriously and get off the pity pot.

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  50. This disease is the number one cause of accidental deaths in our country. We need to wake up.
    Thank you for your article. It is very insightful. Unlike the dogma that obscures facts about this disease.

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  51. I've recently lost two members of my family, one who had health issues from previous drug use - tho clean at the time of his death. And one who to my knowledge had been clean for some time but the tragedy of losing a loved one made him want to escape. It is easy, TOO easy for people to say "so what, they did it to themselves". In a way I suppose I understand their response; but what I don't understand is their lack of compassion that they were family, my family! They were my loved ones, somebody's son, grandson, brother, cousin, nephew, father... We the family all struggle with the what ifs and the whys; they are our struggles and hurdles to overcome and it would be nice to not be judged for those struggles and let us grieve the way you would grieve if it was your family.

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  52. My dad was an alcoholic and addict. He finally succumbed to the disease and died of an overdose (Fentenyl+Oxycontin) in 2006. He was 58.

    What you wrote hits the mark. It is a disease, it is all-consuming, and it is tragic.

    Thank you for writing this. I shared it on my Facebook page in hopes that it might help someone understand what addicts face.

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  53. As much as I love and appreciate and fully agree with everything you've said in this article, I feel it's missing something. This has enlightened me some, as I never thought about the fact that drugs are a "means to an end" and that the more pressing issue is usually mental health issues. Someone very close to me suffers from bipolar disorder and is, I suppose consequently, addicted to cocaine. The addiction is literally tearing apart numerous lives, including and especially the addict's. And as much as I agree that there are so many things people can do to help that person, to continue loving and supporting her and doing what they can because an addiction is a monster that claims full control over a person's life, on some level some of the blame has to be given to the victim of the disease. Its true that no addict wants to die, but this one in particular that I know has been given many opportunities to get clean and stay clean, and no one has given up on helping her, but she continues giving up on herself. None of us can help her until she decides she wants to kick the habit and save her life herself. No one in her life can force her to go to rehab and then start seeing a therapist regularly to get to the root of the problem. She has to. And she only tries for a short time to get clean, then allows the demon to swallow her again. It is a battle I've never known personally, and so I can only hear second hand how incredibly difficult a battle it is. But I've known of people who have the willpower to start over with their lives and be clean again, and I guess I'd just like to believe that that is possible for anyone.

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  54. This is incredibly honest & well written. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

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  55. You have hit the nail on the head. I remember when another "luckier" actor, Robert Downey Jr. was arrested and jailed for something like the second or third time. Newsweek magazine had a cover story about the physiology of addiction, it was so clear to me what we needed to do. The focus of the article was permanent change to the chemistry of the brain, seratonin, dopamine, etc. The article claimed that the brain stops production of those brain chemicals during active use of a drug or alcohol, and when the addict stops using, profound depression is the result. Statistics for maintaining sobriety are grim. I come from a family background with a lot of alcoholism in it. My generation seems to have been spared, we went through the sixties and seventies recreationally using a variety of chemicals, and not one of us has addiction issues. Well, food for me. Unfortunately my children have had issues, and I will never stop worrying about them. It is time to stop treating addiction as a crime and start treating it as the disease it is. Thank you for a great, heartfelt article. JAT, RN

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  56. It is amazing how quickly people judge, subconsciously (or consciously) redirecting attention from their own issues. I was 21 when my dad had a liver transplant from his alcoholism and my parents' marriage fell apart. Fortunately for me, that was when I had the realization that none of us can judge another. We all have pain and we all try to make the best decisions we can with the information we have at the moment. Some people live their whole lives and never learn that lesson. Prayers for all of you who also deal with addiction and the battle between loving and enabling.

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  57. Thank you for this well wtitten article.

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  58. I know what this is like. My boyfriend is addicted to pain pills. I love him to death. I hate seeing what it does to him. Its a very hard thing to cope with.

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  59. Thank you for this piece. Beautiful and true. I wish the whole world were required to read it -- including congressional leaders who make decisions as to what qualifies as a disease to be treated medically and what is just deviance.

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  60. This is so well said. We have a 35 year old son who is an alcoholic. Thankfully, he checked himself into a Christian based recovery center this last Friday. We pray this is where he will find some peace. His dad and I have been through so much with him and learned so much about the addiction. We have hated, we have pitied, we have hurt, we have had hope, we have had despair, we have felt guilty, we have felt like the protector. Addiction affects everyone who loves the addict and to the non-addict. It seems as simple as thinking they can surely see what they are doing to their family/friends. Why don't they just stop. Such a complicated decease. And, goes along with the mental illness hand in hand. We are a society that involves drinking and eating around most social activities. And, for some, that's OK...but for those that it's not OK for, it is usually too late before they know they have this horrible decease. I wish I had magic answers, but my only advice from where we are is to not hide the addiction or the potential addiction under the rug. I sometimes wonder if we could have prevented the addiction if we would have noticed signs sooner. I know that trying to figure out what we could have done different is a futile exercise, but if we can educate other parents to watch for signs or what help is available, then maybe that's our mission. Thank you for this well-written and fact filled article about addiction.

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  61. More people suffer from not only addicting but the effects of being close with someone who is an addict or alcoholic (which are both basically the same). I am 22 years old and have been to three rehabs and two halfway houses. All on my own in desperation of trying to escape the grips of this disease. Both of my parents are addicts. My mother inparticular suffers from severe mental illness issues. I belive that addiction and alcoholism is but a symptom of deep spiritual and emotional pain that is so unbearable we feel we cannot cope on our own. This being said I have been clean and sober for almost two years now. Despite the immense pain I have experienced with my own addiction, as well as watching my loved ones suffer from the same disease, I feel nothing but gratitude for my past and hardships. I would not be the person I am today if I had not gone trough what I did. I am still growing every day and know that the future is bright. I must admit that I feel sorry for those who are ignorant to this diet of pain, because I know they are weak. And could never pull themselves through what recovering addicts do on a daily basis.

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  62. so beautifully written. insightful, truthful, genuine. thank you for so eloquently stating what needed to be said.

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  63. im a heroin addict currently involved in a.a./n.a. and a program of recovery, i have had 10 months clean prior to my last relapse. I am currently abstinent from drugs and drinking since December and i enjoy everyday so much and appreciate another chance at life. I love being a son to my mother, a father to my daughter . Its true we dont want to die and we dont want to be addicts. the stigmas really do need to go away and this issue needs to be looked at differently ive met so many GREAT people in rehabs so full of life...so many of those great people are no dead for what ever reason when that light goes off and you take that first drink or drug all bets are off and you cant scare me with death because i welcome it...so while i appreciate each day i know that its my job to remain vigilant in this fight because my addiction is just one mistake away waiting to take it all away

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  64. Like the article alot - love PSH - but SO sad to see the mental health piece be glazed over so lightly by YOU too! One real sentence I believe. But using the the word "depression" or "mental illness" isn't very hip or modern - ADDICT (used 27 times) - there is a word we associate with stars and glam! Sad that you are avoiding the (so often) core issue of depression as well. People just don't want to read about depressed people do they - but ADDICTS - now there is story! When you know what it is like to be engulfed by darkness - to wonder why a typical sad moment feels like a tragedy - and a tragedy calls for thoughts of suicide as the only way out - all of this while getting help and on medication and loving God. But thank you for being part of society and being unable to really deal with the words "depression" - "mental illness" - so that those of us who suffer with it every day realize that we would be more accepted in society if we were ADDICTS.

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    1. Depression and addiction are two SEPARATE mental illnesses. I am an addict that was misdiagnosed with depression and bipolar. One is not worse than the other in fact they look very similar from an outside perspective. This entire article is written from an outside perspective so no one can understand unless they have been in our shoes. This actor died of n overdose which is probably why its mostly about addiction. They are both horrible to go through so i don't understand why this is a contest. Get some help i did.

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  65. From a daughter who lost a mother, and a mother who walked through her worst nightmare to save her son. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

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  66. Beautiful. Thank you.

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  67. Most addicts fully recover their lives AWAY from 12 step programs and rehab. It is when they learn to say "no" to their Addictive Voice and "never" to using again. It's that simple, and I know from personal experience.

    rational.org = Rational Recovery

    Addiction is a moral issue. Addiction is seeking pleasure above and beyond ANYTHING that matters including life, including our families. It's selfish and not an "illness, although based in a part of our brain to do, oddly enough with survival!

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    1. OK man, first, be aware that what works for one does not always work for another. Also, RR is a direct contradiction in and of itself in more than one way. If fooling yourself helps you, recovery from drugs is only your first problem. RR opposes seeking help through counseling and theropy, but is founded by an LCSW who works in the field of addiction. It also speaks of recovering away from religious restraints, of which AA/NA have none. If that's how you interpret their message, you're a fool.
      To say that most addicts recover away from 12 step fellowships is born in idiocy. NA has more than 61,000 meetings in 131 countries. That says nothing of the numbers of members who attend them.
      RR is in 4 countries and due to dwindling attendance and canceled meetings altogether and transitioned to online "classes". Do some homework. Wikipedia and RRs official website would be a good place to start...

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  68. Amazingly accurate and truthful depiction...thank you for shedding light for those who have never had the privileged of seeing someone they love go down in the blaze of shame and degradation that heroin addiction IS!!

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  69. Read Brene' Brown's book "The Gifts of Imperfection" We are all plagued with numbing until we learn to love ourselves. We all numb to some degree. Food, TV, Drugs Alcohol, Gambling, some just kill us faster than others. Until we wake up and realize that we want to Live and have Joy in this moment and this moment alone, we will try to avoid what we feel.

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  70. Thank you for sharing the truth to those that have never had the privilege of seeing a loved one go down in the blaze of shame, degradation and self-loathing so central to a heroin addict's life. My daughter is in prison...right now I know she's safe (a hard concept for most to imagine). but when June rolls around, I'll be a wreck again with ever siren that whizzes past my house.

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    1. I have felt that way when my son has been in jail. He's safe, for now...I can't watch the news without cringing every time they mention a murder or a shooting; wondering if it's my child. I get it.

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  71. UNTIL YOU LIVE IT AND STRUGGLE WITH IT EVERYDAY....THE ANXIETY OF KNOWING HOW LOW YOU FELL, THE GUILT.....THE IRONY OF THINKING ADDICTION IS FOR LOSERS WHO LET IT HAPPEN TO ACTUALLY LIVING IT.. 3 THINGS SAVED MY LIFE AND HELPS ME LIVE A LIFE IN RECOVERY-GOD, 12 STEP PGRM, AND SUPPORT OF FRIENDS AND FAMILY. YES, THERE WERE 2ND, 3 RD AND 4TH CHANCES AND COMPASSION GALORE BUT IT WAS FIRMNESS AND RELENTLESSNESS OF MY SPOUSE THAT I LEARNED TO ACCEPT MY DISEASE AND TREAT THE SYMPTOMS WHILE I WORK TO FIND THE ROOT OF THE PROBLEM. I HAD TO BLOCK THOUGHTS OF WHAT THE MAJORITY OF SOCIETY FEELS ABOUT ADDICTION ESPECIALLY THE MEDICAL PROFESSION OF WHICH I BELONG, OR I WOULD NEVER CLIMBED OUT OF THE HOLE. WOULD IT NOT BE GREAT TO HAVE THE POSITIVE SUPPORT FROM SOCIETY SUCH AS THE PINK RIBBON CAMPAIGN, AMERICAN HEART ASSOCIATION WALKATHONS TO NAME A FEW? ONE DAY AT A TIME AND BELIEVE IT OR NOT, I AM A BETTER PERSON THAN PRE -ADDICTION.

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    1. I feel there need to be clinics on every corner to keep relapse from being a death sentence it has worked in other countries, they treat anonymously they keep them monitored and provide clean needles and guidance to help wean and even administer help for withdraw symptoms. They don't shame the addicts, they employ them and the addicts are able to hold down a job, continue to have friends and social support and it is managed like a real disease instead of shunned hidden, I wish that we could be REAL with the drug issues instead of having declared war on them, and left our loved ones to be collateral damage. It doesn't have to be like this.

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  72. I understand the system needs much more to function and fix the mental issues that are so prevalent in our times, but where do they come from? Anger or the overlooking of the issue may come from knowing Mr. Hoffman had so many more resources available to him because of his intelligence, position in society and financial means, while so many are caught in the middle of a system that seeks and cares for those who have no resources at the expense of the middle guy. More education is the key. I'm willing to bet these school shootings are the result of the lack of education and stigma that begins in school. Yet our government avoids the key issue of mental illness, and focuses on the weapon. In this case the weapon was not a gun, but heroin. I agree that stopping it at the source and education in advance is the "cure".

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  73. You nailed it. I have lived every one of those "until you've" statements with my precious first born. This is the blog I wanted to write, but couldn't find the words for. My son is only 22 and has been in MH treatment since the age of 4, but has never been able to unlock his demons and set them free. The MH system is severely lacking and rehab programs should require intensive therapy, but don't. I could write pages about what my son has been through; what we all have been through with him, but I just wanted to thank you for your eloquent understanding.

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  74. Very beautifully and eloquently written. And it so needs to be heard and carefully considered!

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  75. You bring up a lot of good points here. I have to disagree with some of what you said however. You say it's not about the drug, it's about why the person wanted the drug. All-too-often we give outlets to people who are harming themselves or others. We say: "oh he was poor, can you blame him for stealing?"
    It never ends. We shouldn't blame the murderer, but why he became a murderer instead. It just seems like there is no accountability anymore.

    With disagreements aside, Mr. Hoffman was a fantastic actor and a real treat to see doing what he does best. The world loss a great talent. May God bless Philip Hoffman.

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    1. I agree with you that addicts should be accountable. Being an addict myself I belive that for many of us, consequences and accountability are a vital part of making the decision to recover. This being said I feel that society will soon have no choice but to recognize addicting as a disease that requires TREATMENT. this is an epidemic in our country. More and more the consequences of addiction related crimes entail mandatory rehab. An addict is more likely not to end up backbone the system if they are given the opprotunity to recover. Throwing them.behind bars where they sit and wait for a period of time, only to get out and use again is pointless.

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  76. AA, NA, CA and all the 'A's' promote lifelong continuous sobriety 1 day at a time. But: Every day is a new day. You must admit to your inner most self that you are powerless over whatever your addiction. The first thing you put in front of your sobriety will be the second thing you lose! You MUST do certain things every day or risk the chance of relapse. Everyone has another drink, drug or whatever in them - But do they have another recovery?
    R.I.P. Phil :(

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  77. I recently addressed my depression and alcohol abuse through acupuncture. Past attempts with the mental health system failed miserably, as doctors continually tried to prescribe my pain away or 'talk it away'. I understand that a person has to be in the right headset to undertake 'alternative' approaches, but after a good decade of battling (though not continually) meth addiction, vicodin addiction, and alcoholism, I am grateful that acupuncture has had more results in the past month than 6 months (max) of living clean and sober and trying to follow the 12 steps. Hope IS out there. To other folks living with dual diagnosis, my advice is this: keep trying to get better. Eventually you will find what works for you... it has taken me 26 years to finally get my brain chemistry right (completely independent of any antidepressant or SSRI).

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  78. After 16 years in recovery (and 16 years of continuous clean time) it was a pleasure to read not only your article but the replies to it. The article was insightful and sensitive without being whiny, and the responses are a pretty good cross section of current views about addicts and the nature of the disease itself. I firmly believe that I could not have made it throu3h early recovery without the support and love shown to me by other addicts in recovery. I also believe that working the 12 steps in my life is the sole reason for my continued recovery. In my experience any addict seeking recovery can find it, when the willingness to do whatever it takes to stay clean finally arrives. Waiting for the willingness is the hard part - but without it any effort will be a half measure at best. My heart is with the addicts, the families and the loved ones... <3

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  79. Thank you for your observations. I am a recovering addict, and I suffer from Bipolar Disorder. I find your article quite accurate.

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  80. Thank you. Thank you, thank you, thank you. Thank you for recognizing and sharing the true nature of addiction and mental illness. You've reached such a wide audience, from the person looking in to the person desperately reaching out and everyone else in between. "They just want to feel better. They just want to feel normal. They just want to stop feeling everything else for a little while." - more of us can relate to this than we think.

    An aside - ADDICTION IS NOT A MORAL ISSUE. It is a deeply intwined psychological and biochemical issue. There is, like the article implied, no one way or quick fix for this disease. If you think you have the ultimate magic answer, please do some research and educate yourself.

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  81. This article hit home for me and was very well stated. I received the phone call three years ago from a detective in Florida to let me know my husband had been found dead in a hotel room. He was 32 years old. In the room was alcohol, needles, pills and I don't even know what else. My husband was an addict and alcoholic. We were together for 5 years when he passed away. Over those years I did everyone of the points that you made...I ignored it, I hid it, I shamed him, I supported him, and more. I finally got him in rehab only to have him relapse a few months later. My husband's addictions went so much farther than the alcohol and drugs. His father was also an alcoholic but for my husband it was his demons, his mind that got him. The one thing that I didn't do was let him get away with his actions. I did hold him countable for the bad things he did. It was the toughest 5 years of my life. I have struggled with survivors guilt because I do wonder what I could have done, if I could have changed the outcome. I have struggled with the thought that people judge him or judge me. I like your points and they are things I want to yell at people all the time...

    "Until you've been there, you can't know what it is like.
    Until you've watched someone you love try and claw their way out only to be dragged back in again, you can't know what it is like.
    Until you've seen someone throw everything away just to feel better for a moment, you can't know what it is like.
    Until you've dealt with someone desperately in need of help who turned to self medicating instead, you can't know what it is like.
    Until you've had to tease out where the line between believing in someone and enabling them is, you can't know what it is like.
    Until you've had to make choices no one should ever have to make, you can't know what it is like.
    Until you've done all you can to help someone who doesn't want it, you can't know what it is like.
    We all have our demons. We all have our issues."
    Thank you for your article.

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  82. Awesome Blog. I am a recovering addict with 11 years clean, so I totally understand about addiction. But just for curiosity's sake you might want to check out his ties to the Hollywood Illuminati....Lots of folks seem to thing this wasn't just an addict relapsing......just made to look that way

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  83. No way heroin use is up. We have a drug war and drugs are illegal so it can't go up. Our government fixes things don't they? Sarcasm aside: legalize/decriminalize = dose is labeled = hot dose can only be on purpose. Legalize/decriminalize is the only solution. It will save lives. It will save tens of billions of dollars of tax payer money every year. It will eliminate the street drug dealer.

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  84. I dated someone that was addicted to meth and pot for 9 years. We had four children together. I had an additional child from a different dad and he had an additional child from a different mother. He had full custody of his daughter and she lived with us.
    His life was a mess. He stole from us constantly; money, possessions, and more money. I cannot tell you how many times he left us with no money for the whole month or put us in a situation where I was doing something that required money and found out too late I had none (imagine getting your kids ready to go to the zoo, packing up the car, putting all the kids in it, them being so excited to go to the zoo, driving and hour and half to get there, getting everyone out of the car, walking up the gates only to find out you have no money and have to turn around. Imagine taking your kids to McDonalds and ordering them food and then realizing that you have no money to pay for it and the kids are hungry because it is dinner time and trying to explain to them while they are bawling their eyes out how we have to go home to eat). He stole my car constantly. He damaged my property constantly. He was very abusive towards me and the kids constantly (some of the abuse left scars and permanent damage on me). He could not be trusted with the kids for any length of time, even if I was just walking into another room or to take shower. His behavior was erratic, unpredictable, and full of highs and lows. He was selfish. He refused to help with the kids physically or financially. He refused to help with the house or the bills or with basic needs. I had to hold up the whole house on my own, pay for everything on my own, take care of the kids on my own, take care of a whole household on my own... while he either slept for 12 to 24 hours straight or was gone for days on end getting high. It wasn't easy. There were times I was so tired from the kids that I thought I was going to fall over out of sheer exhaustion. There were times when I was so sick I could barely move and had to take care of the kids alone. There were times when I needed a break so badly after months and months of not getting a single break that I thought I was going to go nuts and could barely carry on... I was so overwhelmed. There were times when I honestly didn't know how we were going to eat for a whole month or provide for the kids or even pay our bills. Imagine wondering how you are even going to afford diapers for three kids for the month. It was stressful. It was mentally and physically draining. It psychologically and mentally damaged me.
    I stayed because I didn't want his daughter to be left in that mess. He was a terrible parent to her and I did not want her to suffer or to get hurt from his drug use. She would have if I hadn't stayed. I was protecting her and making sure she was provided for.

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    1. read part 2 and 3, continued there.

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  85. Part 2 I finally left when I was pregnant with our last child. I couldn't deal with it anymore. I would not raise one more baby in that stressful environment. His oldest was five and about to start kindergarten. I finally felt she would be okay if I left, as in she wasn't a baby anymore and wouldn't put herself in danger like a baby does... climb on things, wander away, run around in the middle of the night, wake up in the middle of the night for a bottle, could feed herself and wasn't dependent on other people for her food, and so on. After I left, he started to sell his food stamps for cash. He didn't provide food for her. He didn't provide clothes for her. He didn't clean his house ever. He would pass out and she would be left to her own for a whole day, sometimes two days. She had to get herself ready for school in the morning and leave herself. She had to put herself to bed. I would come every weekend or every other weekend and buy her food, buy her clothes, clean her house, make sure all her needs were met, to try to help her out. She would cry and scream and beg for me to take her back to my house while I was there. When I was leaving she would run after our car with tears flowing down her face screaming and begging to come with while I drove away. She was so sad and scared. Her dad was mean at times and unpredictable. He could be very abusive. Sometimes it scared her that she couldn’t wake him up. It was very hard on her. I so badly wanted to take her with me, it broke my heart. I did take her for the whole summer in the summer.
    I wanted her to so badly live with me all of the time, but because I lived in a different county/city I could not. It devastated me.
    His addiction got worse and worse.
    He got evicted from his apartment and moved in with his mom. He stole over 30,000 grand from her and many of her possessions. He stole prescription medication from her and sold it. She finally kicked him out. He wanted to come live with me. I told him no because I didn't to be put in that situation again. I knew if I did we wouldn’t survive. I offered to take his daughter but he said no, unless he came with. The next morning his daughter was finally taken away from him (after over a 100 reports on his meth use to child protective services in a span of a few years). She went to foster care and he went to drug court.
    Drug court is different than treatment because as the article states above there is usually and underlying problem. They made him get his GED. They made him fix all his finances and learn proper money management. He also had to have a certain amount saved up. They made him get his driver's license, insurance, and a car. They made him take psychological tests, mental health tests, IQ tests, and see a psychologist and a psychiatrist. They made him submit to daily drug tests. They made him go to four meetings a week and help out in one of those drug meetings and do community service projects. He had to have nightly checks at his household and do a Breathalyzer at those checks. He had to go to drug court once a week to check up on his progress (Another thing drug court did was if you relapsed or broke the law, you had to go to jail for a week and start drug court over again, or go back a phase (there are four phases to graduate), but you were not thrown out). He also had to own up to everyone that he wronged and admit his mistakes. He had to find a place to live and have everything he needed in place for his daughter. In exchange for going through drug court and graduating, all charges he had pending were dropped. He had to do all of this and graduate drug court before he could get his daughter back. It took him a little over a year.
    He had tried just plain treatment before and he relapsed very shortly after. Drug court has a way higher success rate and is a lot cheaper than jail. The chances of relapse are a lot lower too because you are given the tools to manage your life.

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  86. part 3 He is actually doing well now and is a good father to his daughter now. He has been sober for over two years with no relapse. He is currently in college, doing well in his classes, just bought a place to live, and is in the process of fixing it up. His life is a complete turnaround.

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  87. hi .im a current consumer or custermer. cliant or what ever you want to call us. as a child iv survived some pritty continuis emotional bombardments both from my Foster perants and a 7 year stint in A state asylum. but after that I had a 30 year run at being an industral worker at a local factory. but in the mid 90s everything everything that I valu started to decline. first was the closing of my plant ware I worked for 23 years. it was a major loss to me. as it was my idenity as a Blue collar factory worker. but I worked apx 5 more years at varyius places. but with a sires of both physical problums and pre existing educatinal deficects and at the time also the loss of a relationship that now after 20 years I have closher on that but not the outher stuff. iv been and still dealing with both depression and some axiaty and complicated greif isuess. im 60 years old. with both bad eyes now im currently on SSD and being tied to mental health system on the out patient side. plus living in A devastated city. econamicly speaking. I consider my life and my hometown a total loss now. im not into the ideal of going back to school at this stage of my life with both eyes bad now. plus my mental focusing isnt good. it would be cheaper if I just called it a day now. but trying to hang on but for what. the life and world that I was part of is gone now. the lifestyl that im living isnt acceptable to me. the system cant fix everything and its a waste of tax payers money and its a waste of my energy. the cost and stress to renavate my life to todays World isnt worth it. especialy when you have young peaple going to school and not getting the jobs that they trained for and getting into debt that they will never be able to pay back

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  88. My dad had a good childhood, parents and 4 sisters that loved him. He found the love of his life, a great job and they married and had 3 beautiful children. But yet...he hated his life, he was not happy or comfortable with his life. So he drank his self to death at age 50. I remember growing up and seeing how unhappy he was, yelling all the time. He was not mental... he just didn't like life.

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  89. Really wonderfully written. It should be published widely. I have seen addiction in action, indeed I have lived it. So many of the AA program precepts are not just bumper sticker-type homilies; they are bits of wisdom that can make the difference literally between life and death: One day at a time, let go and let god, easy does it... there are many; but the most cogent today: It works if you work it. We see in Phil's death, the underscoring of the warning in the Big Book of AA: "(addiction) is cunning, baffling and powerful". I heard a wise man in my early sobriety add another: Patient. It laid in wait for Philip, as it does us all. We really must pay attention whether it's one on one or as a society. We can never know the demons that Philip wrestled with - and of course we see it everyday in others whether celebrities or not - but there are such demons, big and small that people deal with, which would seem to me to be a good reason to travel about this world in kindness and empathy.

    Robert

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  90. Not to change the subject but I've been sitting here reading all the these responses and i couldn't agree more that drug addiction falls largely under the heading of mental illness. However society and the media only like to use the term mental illness in certain situations, every recent incident that has involved a shooting, the shooter is referred to as horrible, evil, disturbed, but the talk of mental illness is rarely focused on. If we are going mental illness as a crutch (for lack of a better term) for drug addiction, then it should also be used in describing people involved in horrific shooting. However if we did that the media wouldn't be able to convince people that guns are bad and kill people and its not the mentally disturbed individual that committed those horrible acts.
    In closing the care for the mentally ill no where close to where it should be, there are so many aspects of mental illness that we do not understand and until we do, this will not be the last time we read of this sort of thing.

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  91. Well written. Thank You.

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  92. Love this article. It's powerful,clear, deep and full of undrestanding.
    Marksteen Adamson

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  93. Thank you SO much for this post. I've been feeling this exactly for so long, after having dealt with an alcoholic husband who died of his affliction. There is so little empathy for people struggling with addiction and it's so terribly misunderstood. You're right that the basis is mental illiness, which also continues to be misunderstood. I believe if we could change the paradigm about mental illness we would see a lot of change in our society from the way we treat addiction and gun violence, too.

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  94. My name is Wendy I'm 39 yrs old... Married with 3 girls. Back when I was 18- 20 I Drank ALOT and smoked ALOT of pot... I had to have 2 emergency C-section & was given Percocet for the next 3 months Liked it too much... around the time my second daughter was 3 months old and I was running out of my Percocet I got pneumonia and started having problems with my tonsils so the dr's gave me both liquid and pill form of Vicodin to help with the pain and the coughing... This is when I started to spiral out of control... not only taking those taking Cloral hydrate (a hypnotic) and oxycontin... several different sleeping pills, Demerol, Xanax, etc... then I got my tonsils removed and was harder to get the prescriptions... That is when I went to a psychiatrist and was diagnosed with ADD and Manic Depressive Disorder/Bo-Polar.. Started taking meds for it. Was fine for a while then when I left my ex-husband. Then I started dabbling in pills again...because when I left my ex husband I lost my job that provided my medical insurance I no longer was able to afford to see my psychiatrist... so I started the pills back up then one night someone introduced me to the powder form of cocaine. I was in over my head instantly... LOVED it it seemed to give me a passion for life I had been missing all along. That addiction lasted for about 6 months. Then I started seeing a psychiatrist through ACT/Stewart Marchman I started feeling ALOT better... feeling somewhat normal but still didn't have any energy, still craved something to make me wanna make it through the day without having to take a nap. Because no matter how much I had to do during the day I couldn't stop thinking about when I was gonna next be able to lay down on my pillow... Then I got back in touch with an old friend, who eventually ended up being my current husband... He is totally drug free and so was I for a few years... Then my grandmother who I was really close with passed My use of Blues and Xanax to deal with the grieving was out of control... So then I got the bright idea to detox off of those to go to a Methadone treatment center so I wouldn't get sick. So I finally after 3 yrs weaned myself off of methadone... and two months later someone offered me Crack cocaine I then had a new addiction cuz it also helped me stay awake throughout the day... so I loved it! Shortly after my husband kicked me out and I was essentially homeless. Anyways from there I voluntarily went to detox at Deland hospital, they started me on Wellbutrin, Abilify, & Effexor XR... then went to rehab for 5 months. Rehab I had to take my pills everyday at the same time and started feeling the effects of them working and it turned out the Abilify is what I've needed all these years to feel normal and "awake" all day... I don't feel high I think I just feel like "normal" people feel.Since leaving rehab I have relapsed a few times... one of the times lead me to get arrested for paraphernalia but that just ended up getting me ordered to another drug program where got random ua's so helped me keep clean I now am drug free except the Wellbutrin, Effexor XR, Abilify & Adderall which I take as prescribed and the combination of the four help me to live a "Normal" life, where I'm free of the ups and downs I used to feel. Don't feel tired all the time... Depressed. I feel so much better now then I did when I was waking up every morning worried abt getting my fix for the day. The only downside is my weight... the longer I'm off of drugs the more and more weight I gain it seems, but I wouldn't trade my way of life for anything right now. Thank you for taking the time to read this life story. Take care.

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  95. Great writing, Love the words and the thinking. Its true, it's clear and engaging. Great work Dabie.
    Regards, Marksteen

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  96. We all have our demons is correct. Any addiction is sin (missing the mark.) We have for eons fought our human deficiencies with the feeble powers of our finite selves. Demon recovery is a daily reprieve based on right relationship with infinite power. Seek His will always in all things in His name each day for permanent Victory.

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  97. I agree with the vast majority of this article. I do personally believe that addiction has a genetic component. I believe that fighting addiction is a lifelong journey, a marathon rather than a sprint. I believe that we need a multifaceted approach and as a society we handle addiction completely wrong. However, my issue with this article and with many people that fall on this side of the issue is that they seem to view an addict as a victim and as such place no personal responsibility on their shoulders. If addiction truly is a mental disorder, then just as someone who is bipolar or depressed, the attitude cannot be "I am depressed so I..." "I'm an addict so I..." it must instead be, because I suffer from depression I must..." "because I am an addict I must..." the addict must take responsibility for their disease. They must choose a different way and understand their disease avoid triggers, old friends, desire to learn new coping skills etc. If we change our view from one of "blame the addict" to "the addict is a victim" without requiring personal responsibility, then we will have only moved to the opposite side of the spectrum without actually making any forward progress toward change.

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  98. I have used Reiki to help myself relieve pain and i have kown a number of people who have used Reiki to manage severe pain
    . It is a relaxation technique but it also goes deep to help us with the emotional and mental causes of our reactions to our conditions and helps us recover our spiritual connection .

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  99. We lost a beautiful 21 year old girl last week in our rural Pennsylvania community. She struggled with addiction and had been successful. Until last week. We are now finding out that in the last year, there has been a tremendous surge in the use of heroin locally by kids in high school. http://www.kochfuneralhome.com/mobile/obituaries-details.cfm?o_id=2392238&fh_id=12859#obituaries

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  100. It's amazing that your words reflect exactly my sentiments. This was more beautifully written than I could ever have expressed. This article is a blessing to me. My oldest daughter is an addict.

    My favorite part is:

    Until you've been there, you can't know what it is like.

    Until you've watched someone you love try and claw their way out only to be dragged back in again, you can't know what it is like.

    Until you've seen someone throw everything away just to feel better for a moment, you can't know what it is like.

    Until you've dealt with someone desperately in need of help who turned to self medicating instead, you can't know what it is like.

    Until you've had to tease out where the line between believing in someone and enabling them is, you can't know what it is like.

    Until you've had to make choices no one should ever have to make, you can't know what it is like.

    Until you've done all you can to help someone who doesn't want it, you can't know what it is like.

    We all have our demons. We all have our issues.

    Thank you, thank you...I can't tell you how I will cling to these words.

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  101. Want to learn more about what addictions is really all about through the eyes of an addicti???
    http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/Lifeinthegame

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  102. Please send this to his x-girlfriend. She really needs to read this right now and so will his kids in the future. Very well written...

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  103. Thank you for talking about the root of the problem. Thank you for saying that the drug is band aid and doesn't treat what is deep inside. IF we can ever focus on that and educate the public on this issue then we may have shot. If we keep rolling over it like we ALWAYS do then we will never be free of this. Great read and I whole heartedly appreciate your thoughts!

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  104. Some whom do not know God, have never felt his presence and Power ! . Their is a God. and he can remove from any one anything ! be it Physical or psychological, he can renew the whole mind and body ! . hes not limited to physical matters material aging existence, Read some of the bible, his true believers, lived hundreds of years of the physical life.

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  105. Well said. If the stigma of addiction could be lifted, many would be more likely to talk about what they are abusing. Often, the substance abuse comes from shame and appears to be shamed by the unintentional abuse, a lonely trap. Thank you for the article, it reinforces many of my own thoughts on the issue in a very intelligent and hopeful way.

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  106. Many years ago, I was told by a psychiatrist that there is a triangle in the mental health field at I have since forgotten the name of. One angle is alcoholism, one is drug addiction and the third is depression. I had always been so thankful that I didn't have problems with drug addiction or alcoholism and didn't understand why I had such a problem with depression. Depression didn't seem to be a problem in my family. That statement from the psychiatrist made everything clear. Now thirty years later, my brother has been clean and sober for 7 years after a prison sentence and being diagnosed with depression. I think it is a distinct possibility that most addict/alcoholics are self-medicating depressives.

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  107. Wow, thank you for this post. Obviously you have lived this at some level or else you wouldn't have such a deep and accurate understanding of its reality. Thank you a million times.

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  108. First let me start by saying that I am an addict. I do not and have not used drugs for a long time. I am still an addict. Heroin and crack are my drugs of choice. With that being said, if anything I say sounds insulting, its supposed to.
    You speak of seizing the available information about addiction. Clearly you have not.
    Mental health issues and addiction can sometimes be dualy present. It is not however necessary or is it more common than not. That's like saying all overweight people have eating disorders Its ggeneralized and obviously uninformed.
    You also stated that usage is up by %75. Wrong. The conviction rate for drug, not solely heroin, offenses is up. And still at that it is not %75, it is %72.4. I'd cite a reference if I thought you would use it or not modify to fit your next poorly researched rant.

    Everything you mentioned about the way addicts are treated is spoken of as if from experience. As an addict, I have been treated this way and oddly enough your list falls in the exact progression that these things most of occur. In a case like this, speak from experience and let that be known rather than try to pass your info off as nif it were research that you did or info you gathered in an attempt to gain a following. Own what is yours and be proud of the lessons you've learned as a result of your actions.
    You go on to say that rehab only treats physical addiction. Wrong again. If application is out to all that rehabilitation centers have to offer, it can be life changing. You must first be open to it. I speak from over a decade of experience.
    Also, relapse is not a requirement of recovery. How dare you say so. I know people personally who once they decided to get clean multiple decades ago have not touched a drug. Relapse does happen. It is most definetly not necessary.

    It sounds to me that you are someone who has become I inbittered by the affect someone's addiction has had on you and took advantage of Phillip Hoffmans terrible end to form an avenue to rant about something which you are clearly not very well informed about. You say that some of us arw closer to being addicts than we know as if its a choice. Yet again, wrong. You are born an addict. It is not a choice. And if at any point you have questioned whether or not you are an addict, you probably are, as people who are not tend not to question it.

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  109. Thanks for sharing you perspective Debie. I admired his work greatly. I felt a personal loss in discovering he is no longer with us.

    Curious that you're writing from Colorado, a state leading the pot legalization movement. While I have no problem with legalizing marijuana (for it's commercial and industrial applications), I wonder what it will mean for society.

    A team I lead is refining an innovation that eliminates nearly all external/environmental stressors causing people to turn to drugs as escape or coping mechanism. It also eliminates the profit derived from drug trafficking - all without regulation, laws, government or restricting people's freedom. In conversations we have with those supporting pot legalization, I ask users what makes them choose to use in the first place. Most casual users say they don't use it to "escape", instead they choose these drug-induced states in the same way people watch TV - as entertainment. I find that hard to believe.

    You write:

    "It begins usually as a way to try something new, to try and get high, to try and transport yourself somewhere else, to try and just feel better for a minute"

    But why?

    What it is about the way they feel now, that has them choose to "to try and just feel better for a minute". What's wrong with the moment they're experiencing just prior to "trying"?

    I'm not referring to the addict, the clinically depressed, or the person struggling to deal with prescription-med addiction. I get their choice. I'm referring to healthy, active, young people and adults who by all accounts live pretty "normal" lives. Slippery slope that description. I get that.

    Whatever the answer, all these tragedies are in part caused and depend on the marketability of such substances. If those who earn a living selling heroin were no longer able to, would such tragedies still occur? I have a feeling they would not. At the very least they would be massively reduced. This among many reasons is why my team and I are developing Copiosis. We believe humanity can create civilizations that obviate such tragedies, not just celebrity ones, but those that happen in our own families as well.

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  110. I wonder if you will even allow my comment....or this. I have a blog as well. Its at blogger.com. my name is Matthew norquist. I don't have a block. Feel free to comment about anything you want. I encourage debate. Especially those of you who are speaking of God. You might find tit very informative. But you probably won't see any of this because it doesn't exalt the author. Typical.

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  111. I take issue with some of the reverence toward this man. He was a great actor and worked hard at his craft. But I don't like the fact that society honors celebrities as heroes. They have some of the most wasted opportunities most people ever get. I don't think he's selfish because he was rich and famous and he should have been happy with that. I think he was selfish because he had three children that he didn't drop everything for. Angela Lansbury saw her own children facing addiction due to their Hollywood presence and she dropped everything. She took her family far away from those influences to save her children. If only more people were as self sacrificing as that. That would make celebrities more worthy of being seen as heroes. Instead, this guy is being spoken of in reverent tones because he was an actor. I am so sorry for this tragedy. But the real lesson is, what are we doing as a society to be better parents? Why are we placing priorities above our children. Yes mental health is a big issue and needs to be addressed. I think it's easier to over come addiction and tragedy when you have someone to sacrifice for and too many of us choose not to do that.

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  112. This article is very well written. I want to express that this covers all addictions across the board. I have experienced all of these things with my husband. His addiction isn't to drugs, or alcohol, or gambling or any of the common "acceptable" addictions. He is addicted to porn and sexual perversions. It has taken over his life and ruined our family, my life, and our children's lives. And his life. It is just as sad and ugly to watch, and there is nothing that can be done to help him. There aren't readily available rehab centers, or therapies, or peer meetings like there are for drugs and alcohol. And even if there were, I am not sure how much help they would be to him. Addiction in any form is horrible.

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  113. beautifully said, thank you

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  114. Debie, let me apologize for the ignorance of my second comment. I made some assumptions that were obviously not true. I've read some of your other posts and found them informative. Do you mind me asking how you promote and advertise this page?

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  115. I can relate to t his, I have people around me that are addicted to one thing or another, when I heard of his death I prayed for his family and children. Addictions is life time process to get over and not easy road. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I would have twittered this if you had had button to do so. Instead I reposted your article by using your web address in my word press. Thanks again for your great article

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  116. The term mental health disorder or label in itself has a negative stigma, which will follow that person throughout life from an early age, how fair is that? When people with mental health disorders are denied the opportunity to become an active member of society they become depressed and sink into a world that will not allow them to thrive. Most who suffer from mental health disorders are very intelligent people. Sure there are those who successfully break the rules and manage to overcome those constraints possibly by a chance of mere luck and perseverance. The truth is most will not find that slim chance to rise above the never ending challenges that hold one down to the lower levels of the social classes. Majority rules is not how people should be tagged and categorized.

    There are so many people throughout history. The list is enormous and some of our movies stars currently suffer with mental health disorders:
    Abraham Lincoln, Virginia Woolf, Eugene O'Neill, Ludwig van Beethoven, Robert Schumann, Vaslov Nijinsky, John Keats, Tennessee Williams, Vincent Van Gogh, Isaac Newton, Ernest Hemingway, Sylvia Plath, Michelangelo, Winston Churchill, Vivien Leigh, Jimmy Piersall, Patty Duke, Charles Dickens, Mel Gibson, Catherine Zeta, Brooke Shields, John Nash, Carrie Fisher, Emma Thompson, Herschel Walker, Michael Phelps, Howard Hughes, Paula Deen, Elton John, Craig Ferguson, Margot Kidder, Kurt Cobain, Sinead O'Connor and Philip Seymour Hoffman.

    The sad part: most people while they suffer the rejection and the constant feeling of being an outcast they find others that are similar to themselves to find reassurance, when they can’t find someone whom they relate to, they become lost, sometimes permanently. I blame society. The majority wants everyone to fit into this stereotypical standard, which is not where everyone belongs. Some of the greatest people are great because they fought the system and molds.

    Not every child should be forced to sit for 8 hours a day in a class; this should be considered cruel and unusual punishment. Other children may be able to sit for lengthy periods, and that is fine. Those who come from low income families and do not have the resources to fund private schooling are placed in special need schools, when in fact they are not behavior issues rather they are most likely gifted and need more stimulation and attention to find their potential. Instead they are placed on medication to “control” their behavior. To medicate is an unacceptable answer to produce mind-numbing drones.

    So many actors and actresses seem to come to a sudden end over drug abuse, yet our society is at fault for this, they turn them to drugs to “control” their thoughts and actions. When they don’t find the “right medication to “control” them, they turn to street drugs. The fact is that we are all born into this world with different assets and attributes. It does not mean that we all should be lumped into a specific category made to act a certain way or function. “Shame on our society for not accepting a person’s unique qualities. If people in whole were more accepting and understanding then there would be less people who are placed on or turn to drugs for a way to escape from a world that rejects them overall. The entire thinking “drugs are the answer” is where this is wrong. Just because someone thinks differently than others, does not make them “wrong” What if it were turned around and the majority was wrong? Medicate those who aren’t tagged with mental health disorders stating they are the ones who are wrong in their thinking. So long as it is not depraved of the innate sense of humanity what harm could come from allowing a person to tap into who they really are rather then tell them they have it all wrong and put them on drugs and then expect them not to turn to street drugs when the man made ones fall to help them “fit in”. We need to address the problem not mask it with medications.

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  117. Well said. I am a grateful recovering alcoholic and have seen people being beat down by addiction and I've seen them overcome their addictions in triumph. There is no black and white here as no two people or addictions are alike but one thing to me has been clear, I need to stay connected to others like me so I can stay grounded. I can't do this alone. The minute I start to isolate I know I'm in trouble. It looked as though Philip was alone in his last hours and that breaks my heart that he couldn't reach out. Thanks for posting this so others my begin to understand this complex disease that there is no cure for, only manageability.

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  118. Well... society also fails at grasping the risks that are inherent with freedom, the freedom to do what we want with our lives. That includes the preciousness of choosing whether or not we want to take prescription drugs that could lead to addiction, and I'm pretty sure Philip knew this, he certainly has had access to some top-notch medical help (speaking to Americans who, for most, don't have that yet), and so knew the risks. He made a choice to keep with the drugs, instead of maybe learning more about alternatives, and they don't have to be freaky or new-wave. Depression is a really big dragon to slay, but it can be done. More so when you have the means to seek that help. But Philip was free to choose which sort of help, if any, he wanted for his condition. In the end, we're free to choose the path we want to take, how we deal with the stuff Life throws at us, and how it ends for one or another, I mean ending your life with a needle in your arm is tragic only in that you abused not just of drugs, but of the freedom you had since birth to make your way there. Society should look at how people are choosing to use drugs, even when they know the risks, even when physicians become aware of a potential for abuse. Life is a huge responsibility, and Philip simply chose his path. It's sad, but so is every other way people die "before their rightful time".

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  119. I appreciate your piece and agree with it. Addiction is clearly a chronic illness and when treated, can go into remission. The treatment should include family and significant others. It must address the social, physical, emotional and spiritual life of the addict and the family and other people closely involved in the addictive process.
    Addiction has nothing to do with moral weakness. It is a disease which requires treatment and life-style changes of everyone involved.
    It is a chronic and fatal disease,sadly, as many diseases are.
    Remission can and does occur. We all hope for that.
    My family and I experienced addiction and happily remission of addiction (recovery).
    I have devoted my professional life to helping people struggling with addiction and other mental health issues.
    It is tragic that the world lost a brilliant talent when Hoffman died. The tragedy is about his death no matter the cause.

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  120. Excellent article and input. Unfortunately, resources are few and far between and many that have mental illness will fall through the cracks. It is tragic. It is nice that there are so many able to continue to sacrifice themselves to attempt to save their loved ones. However, speaking as the daughter of someone with mental illness who has siblings with mental illness, who grew up amid the abuse and fear and anger...I myself am not strong enough to sacrifice myself or my kids. It took all I had to escape that life intact (or as intact as I will ever be), but the few visits back brought home how quickly one can be dragged back under by the horrible chaos that encircles these people. I could not do it. I just could not. I love them and it breaks my heart to know I am not strong enough to fight with them and for them...all I can think of when I think of going back is horrible, irrational fear of ending up right back where I started. Kudos to those of you that are strong enough. God bless and best of luck. As for me, I will love mine from afar and know it is not good enough, but it is all I am capable of doing.

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  121. As the mother of a son addicted to methamphetamine for years and years, I appreciate this article and agree with much of what is said here. However, the pain and heartache of watching your addicted adult child struggle, make himself homeless, friendless, cut off from everything and unable to even articulate a coherent sentence is too much to bear. My son has become a criminal, a thief with no respect for anyone, not even his infant nephews. He is non-functioning and reveling in his ability to "cook dope". He wears his title, The Chef like a crown. I wait daily for the call that he has blown himself and others up. He hides behind his false self because he knows he is unable to face reality. In his distorted world view, the dope world is better. This comes from a person admits to having been awake for 20 days at a stretch. It is amazing that he still lives. At some point, he has got to choose differently for himself. For the sake of my own health and well-being, I had no choice but to detach from him and his narcissistic/masochistic behavior. I beleive it is our responsibility as good parents and citizen that we show our children what is acceptable and unacceptable behavior. If they choose not to adhere to social norms, we as parents and family members do not have to subject ourselves, compromise our safety and freedom simply because our addicted loved ones refuse to get to the root cause of the issues. Indeed our mental health system is woefully lacking but there are programs. That is a start. He may choose death for himself and I may never regain the precious little boy I keep seeing over and over in my mind's eye but I have concluded that I am powerless to effect change in his life. He has got to do this alone and fight the battle for the rest of his life. This is his karmic path.

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  122. Couldn't have explained it better

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  123. Amen! God bless you. Perfectly said

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  124. Great Read Kelly! I said much of the same when Whitney Houston died... and GASP! I referred to her as a drug addict. I lost Facebook friends over that debate in that time. I'm blunt when it comes to addiction, I like many, think I've earned that right. Many people don't like that. That's okay, it's okay with me. I've told people many a time that when someone so publicly dies of addiction USE IT, use it as a learning tool, Let it mean SOMETHING!

    As a side note: Isn't it ironic (now stay with me for a moment because this is a BIG CIRCLE in my head) that Nancy Reagan came out with D.A.R. E. (which at its core was good, results ehhh) around the same time Ronnie defunded our State Mental Hospitals… Nancy says to kids "just say no" drugs are bad, Ronnie throws countless mental patients out into the streets, homeless and left to their own devices, the lucky ones going to various family members who may or may not be able to handle their loved ones conditions. This act causes our homeless population to EXPLODE (some say by 80% or MORE!) and our homeless people, who are mentally unstable are now responsible to know, understand and care for their own mental illnesses. They are responsible for seeing their doctors, getting their prescriptions, getting back and forth too all these places they need to be to meet all the requirements for whatever aid is available to them… none of that happens, usually. SO MUCH EASIER to self medicate, alcohol, heroin, marijuana, meth… whatever, whenever and however. Crime rates go through the roof… all these factors just feed each other, one leads to the other, causes the other, begets the other it’s a vicious cycle, rarely ever ending well for anyone.

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  125. being a heroin addict is UNFORGIVABLE, how stupid can these people be. This is something you never never try if you have any brains, and is therefor not a forgivable addiction. It just indicates you are a weak non thinking ass.

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  126. Compassionate and well written. I will share this on Facebook and hope that it touches someone else like it did me- thank you.

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  127. Very well written, but I would have also liked to have read about your experiences with addiction if any.

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  128. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  129. Very well written, and yes, if you haven't lived it, you will never understand.

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  130. Thank you for this..............<3

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  131. Tragedy some times you shoot for the stars but end up in your arm instead

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  132. I agree in part, but I have a hard time letting go of my belief that every person should have ownership over him/herself. I truly believe that I have full control over what I do and don't do. I'm not going to become a drug addict some day. No matter what happens in my life, that is not something I am willing to say could ever happen. At the end of the day, we all have control over whether or not we stick a needle in our arm to get high or if we choose to deal with our personal issues in healthy ways like therapy, exercise, etc. True, we have a mental health problem in our country, but not every addict has mental health issues and not every person with mental health issues does drugs. Is there no accountability anymore? I don't get it. I don't think I ever will.

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  133. Maybe not every person has mental issues. But so many do. Sometimes using is the only medication they know.

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    1. I don't know - seems to me like a lot of people just throwing their arms up and saying "well, it's not his fault. He struggled with depression." What about his children? I read an article titled Addiction is Not Selfish". I disagree. If you care about your family and anyone but yourself, you won't use.

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  134. There is also a serious story just aired on 60 minutes recently about Mental Health Issues, it showed a story about a Mayer having a son who knifed him all over and then killed himself. Worth googling... Sad but it is hard to tell if a person is on drugs or alcohol or having Mental Issues....We can not train police to tell the difference. I am now experiencing my brother snapped, and was put in jail 3 times. Our Dad passed away 2 years ago and that is when he got real bad. No drugs involved. Ruined his 17 year marriage, lost his kids, beat me up. I mean it is sad but scary. He currently is in a Psychiatric State House that has 8 beds...I miss my brother, but he really has been gone for 2 years..:(

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  135. Thank you for this thoughtful, compassionate, and beautifully written piece. Those of us watching loved ones face this dreadful scourge, and seeing how little support and help there is out there, appreciate you articulating what it is like. We all appreciate knowing that others out there do understand, and perhaps helping others to see what is really going on.

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  136. I am a Addictions Therapist and I have to agree. Most addicts self medicate and our current systems are not set up to offer the most comprehensive services. I have started a program for women battling addiction along with mental health and symptoms related to their trauma. This is only 1 step in a very long road ahead.

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  137. I can't thank you enough for your amazingly well written and spot on position on the complexities of addiction and mental illness. I have had rampant alcoholism and mental illness in my family for generations. My upbringing was an upper middle class, waspy demographic, but behind closed doors it is fraught with addiction, abuse, neglect, violence and no kind of security. Despite achieving professional "success" as it is viewed in our society, married to a wonderful man with two beautiful sons, I found myself involuntarily packed off to rehab on the brink of losing everything in 2009. I was at the point of living or dying, the latter often being a more appealing option.
    Having the trifecta of atrocious childhood, depression/mental illness and a need to self medicate when it became too unbearable to exist without a mind altering substance, I get it. I've been sober for just shy of five years. I work my ass off at my sobriety for the sake of my children, my husband, and ultimately, myself. If it weren't for a the design for living that AA provides me, I wouldn't be here. All I can do is learn from those who go before us, and PSH's tragic death is a lesson to us all regarding the fragility of our sobriety. It requires constant vigilance, and for me, a team of mental health professionals to keep in on the beam. Just because people have financial wealth and professional success doesn't mean they are happy. It is often the combination of madness/giftedness that cultivates the need to soothe the pain that is embedded in the DNA of the addicted.
    Thank you for sharing such amazing perspective on this topic. I finally feel like someone "gets it" and it is a wonderful feeling.

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  138. Excellent article ... As a RN working in an Acute Mental Health position, I see a great number of addicted patients. And (expanding what Dawn stated above) the system lacks any real depth of services to help either the mental health or addictions ... It's time both mental health and addictions are looked at as a health issue NOT a criminal issue, then perhaps real help will be available.

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  139. Thank you for this article. As a family member of a struggling addict, I relate to every single word written for this article. From my point of view, it's the family members that really hurt through the process. Everyday I find myself angry, sad, disappointed, enraged, and sometimes within a 5 minute period. Thank you very much for this article.

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  140. The ones left standing, the ones whose lives were ravaged by the addict's behavior, the ones whose finances were smoked up and injected up and squandered by the pleasure-seeker, the children who were left forever as fatherless or motherless, the ones who bear the shame of having been lied to and cheated on and kicked to the curb, all while the addict begged to come home and promised to never do it again....and the ones left standing believed and trusted until their souls bled out......when are we going to acknowledge and minister to these family members who have been dragged into a living hell with the addict??? Is anyone concerned about Phillips poor wife, who has to find out about his dual life? Thank goodness for Al-anon and the comfort of God.

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  141. Thank you and all those who've taken the time to share your stories. It's nice to know we all struggle. Helps me not feel so alone.

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  142. Thank you for your insightful post! You can tell you really understand!

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  143. Great article!! The death of Philip Hoffman is all to real to me. I am a recovering addict, addicted to pain medication and benzos for nearly 10 yrs. The last year was my breaking point. I was either going to die from an overdose or my organs were going to shut down due to all of the medication I was taking on a daily basis. My life was a mess, near divorce and my son wanted nothing to do with me. I decided to get help and went to rehab. It was important to first get the drugs out of my system and rehabilitate physically. Then came the hard part, mental rehabilitation. After nearly a decade in addiction I had no idea how to survive in the real world, so I decided to get additional help. I finished the 90 day rehabilitation program and let's just say.. it was worth it. Living/Struggling with drug addiction is like being in a dark room and feeling so alone. The door is locked from the outside and there is no way out. In that state of mind, you are extremely scared and just need someone to take your hand and guide you in the right direction. But first, you need to be willing to accept that hand. RIP Philip Seymour Hoffman

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  144. I too am struggling, after a sober life for 14 months with a women who choose to start drinking again I have fallen off the wagon. I am drinking now have been reduced to almost nothing emotionally and financially. I am lucky enough to have a good job and insurance. I am struggling to keep it, my heart hurts for the person I love bc they have gotten themselves into a very difficult situation and I just want to help. Regardless of what I know about addiction and how smart I think I am I cant get past the love I have for her. It is the worst feeling I have ever had. Ever. I guess some people just move on or so they think and create a reality which is all their own, which maybe is the mental illness piece. Part of my brain knows the right thing to do and move on and part of it cant or doesn't want to. Addicts are difficult to judge because we don't like to let go of what is comforting, what is real what we know can trust and deliver the same end result. Our or at least I can speak for me, challenge is understanding and knowing how to rewire the brain to accept knew pleasure circuits is a life time of work. Most people dont have the fortitude to do so, its sad but that is how it is. As educated and smart as I think I am I struggle everyday even knowing what I do. When i think about it I wonder how I got here, the shame and embarrassment is unrelenting. I work with a group of people who are all super successful and I struggle to keep up with them everyday. while consciously knowing they are no better or smarter than I they just don't have to drink a 12 pack every night to ease the pain and go to sleep. Or maybe they do and hide better? Everyone has their secrets some are worse than others, I try not to judge, I just try to be and being is difficult lately.We all live life and learn as we go, for an addict that is difficult, its like being hungry and never being able to get enough to eat no matter how much you consume. It is what it is, its terrible. It is also the most humbling affliction I have ever had. I pray for my brothers and sister to find some peace. AMEN

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  145. I would like all of you to know, first that I love you all, and from my Dad I got an addictive personality, but my addiction was to my husband, who also got his addiction from his father, who died of alcoholism, When my husband went to treatment, turned his life over to a higher power and attended AA meetings nearly every day for the rest of his life, I learned thru Al-ANON to let go and let God, he lived 15 years sober and very happy helping others stay sober, and thus himself, and I could just love him and not have to wake every day waiting to see what he was like to know how my addiction to him would make my day. He dies of copd at 55, another addiction, but through all that he found God, and I will see him again. Now I have a Grandson, who thinks God put marijuana here for him, and so the battle goes on, I am trying to help but not enable, I ask your prayers and God's help. Much love to all this family and all who suffer.

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