Skewer the Stigma: In the wake of losing a star, an addict shares “who we are”

Rest in peace, Mr. Hoffman.

He had enjoyed 23 years of clean time, previous to his relapse.  Phillip Seymour Hoffman.

In the announcement of his recent death from a drug overdose, CNN refers to Hoffman as “everyman,”  and indeed, he was extraordinarily talented while still remaining personable. I know in my head that people with two decades of sobriety “fall off the wagon,” but it is always jarring to my heart when I hear about those occasions. Addictions will not be taken for granted.

There seems to be a slight shock that Hoffman, who suffered the same disease as Amy Winehouse, died from the same disease. His spin was not that of a train wreck, but of an accomplished and revered performer.

The article goes on to describe Hoffman as an actor so versatile that he “could be anybody.”  I’m not sure the author of the piece really appreciates how true his statement is.

We are everyman …. everywoman.  We alcoholics and addicts. We are legion.

Hoffman is Winehouse,

Who is the twenty-year old kid who died in the bathroom of a fast food joint with a needle in his arm,

Who is the elderly gentleman in the nursing home, stealing pills from a roomate,

Who  is the wealthy businessman drinking in the wee hours of the morning to get going,

Who is a soccer mom who cannot stop at three glasses of chardonnay,

Who is me.

If the silence of those ripped from the landscape of the entertainment world is deafening;  the gaping voids left by loved ones lost to addictions are life-swallowing sinkholes.

We alcoholics and addicts…..

We are not weak. The strongest people I’ve ever met have been recovering alcoholics.

We are born with super dopamine-seeking brains, susceptible to a hijacking of our brain chemistry. We know that our choices can keep our disease at bay, but we usually have to learn that the hard way.

We don’t want to make excuses for the train wrecks we pilot; we just want you to know they are not by design.

 We are sensitive, and are often creative forces to be reckoned with.

We contribute to the landscape of the world. We make music and poetry and art. We make business deals, and partnerships. And we value relationships more than you can imagine.

We love deeply, intrinsically…..sometimes so deeply that our souls cannot seem to bear it sober.

We punch time clocks and live ordinary lives. And truth be told, it isn’t always the pain that makes us want to drink and use, but fear of the ordinary.

We love our children fiercely. Yes, we would change  “For the sake of the children” if only we could.

We have heart.  We grieve so for hurting people. We often lack the instincts to handle that grief without self-destructing.

We really don’t want to self-destruct at all, but we don’t always know how to keep it from happening until the process has begun.

We crave the ability to handle life on life’s terms “normally,” like you do.

We don’t mean to embarrass you.

We don’t want to inflict the pain on others that our brain chemistry urges us to.  Addiction is as a plaque in the arteries of the spirit, a disorder of the brain. Like any mental illness, nobody wants to have it.

A good portion of any recovery program worth it’s salt is accountability. We want to make ammends with you (and if we don’t want to, don’t despair….we are working on it.)

We are brought to our knees in a desperation that normally-wired brains cannot fathom.  And we can get better – if we stay on our knees.

We need each other for survival. We sit in meetings in drab church basements drinking lukewarm coffee with others like us who are cut from the same colorful brilliant, thread-bare, sturdy cloth – because we want to go on living and contributing to the world, just like you.

We need God most of all. He is the Power Greater than Ourselves that can restore us to sanity.

We are “everyman” and “everywoman.”

And we get sober. We even stay sober, with work. With the understanding that our disease will not be taken for granted.

But we need you to understand some things:

You can support people who are trying to win – and daily WINNING – the footrace with tragedy.

You can try not to shame them. They feel guilty enough.

You can start here to educate yourself on the realities of alcoholism and drug addiction.

You can know that you are NOT ALONE – if you are everyman or everywoman, too.

You can ask someone who struggles with addiction – past or present – to church.  Our spirits, above all else, need to be nourished.

You can ask a recovering friend to go to the movies with you, or out to dinner, or for a walk on the beach.  Our minds and bodies need to be nourished, too.

You can ask questions.

You can pray for us.

You can just not give up on us.

You can know this, mothers and fathers. Your child’s addiction is NOT YOUR FAULT.  You did not cause it.

You can be tender to us in recovery, just as you would anyone in treatment for a disease.

By simply talking about it, you help strip away the stigma. Because the only thing worse than battling a disease is battling a disease that many people don’t believe exists. A disease that – if treatment is not embraced as a way of life – can be fatal.

For everyman.

Please take a moment to consider the loss of life and talent that alcoholism and drug addiction has taken from the cultural landscape.

And then think about the voids left by the vastly more important “everyman”  lost or still in the trenches of addiction – the children, spouses, friends and family that you love.

Amy Winehouse, musician; Brian Jones, musician with The Rolling Stones;   Chris Farley, comedian, actor;  Cory Monteith, actor  and singer;  Darrell Porter, American professional baseball player ;  Elisa Bridges, model, actress;  Elvis Presley , musician, singer, actor, cultural icon; Freddie Prinze, actor;  Hank Williams, Sr., country music singer-songwriter; Heath Ledger, Australian actor;  Howard Hughes,  business tycoon, movie producer and director, aviator, engineer, investor; Janis Joplin, musician; Jim Morrison, musician, singer; Jimi Hendrix, musician and singer-songwriter;  John Belushi , actor and comedian; John Entwistle, bass guitarist for The Who; Jon Bonham,  drummer  and songwriter for Led Zeppelin;   Judy Garland, actress and singer; Keith Moon, drummer for The Who;  Kurt Cobain, Nirvana singer;  Len Bias, Boston Celtics player; Lenny Bruce, comedian ; Marilyn Monroe, actress, model, singer;  Michael Jackson, singer and icon; Richard Burton, actor; River Phoenix, actor;  Sigmund Freud, considered by many to be the founding father of psychoanalysis; Tommy Dorsey, jazz musician; Truman Capote, writer; and Whitney Houston, singer and actress.

For a more comprehensive list of the famous who have passed away due to substance abuse, click here.

229 thoughts on “Skewer the Stigma: In the wake of losing a star, an addict shares “who we are”

  1. I believe I LOVE this post the most of all. It is powerfully written, completely TRUE, and I have started prefacing my conversations with, “let me tell you what addiction is and what it ISN’T” before I speak about what has happened in my family. I’m learning people who haven’t struggled, or don’t know someone who has, truly just haven’t been educated as to the “why” addicts avoid help, continue, or in Mr. Hoffman’s case, sadly sometimes relapse. I too want to change that and take away the shame! Love for the addict as a person (which is not acceptance of intolerable behavior, conditions) and truthful boundaries, not condemnation and judgment is a good place to begin the healing journey together. Addiction is a family disease!! It affects EVERY PERSON connected to the addict. It’s devastatingly painful. But love cures a multitude of not only sins, but illnesses as well. Blessings friend for writing this and may God bless Mr. Hoffman and his family!

  2. Amen. The ripple effect from each and every addict’s active disease carries so far. And dare I say, the RECOVERY of every addict’s disease ripples far and wide, but in a positive, healing way. Survival is a beautiful thing! Thank you so much for your readership – God bless!

  3. Addictions are horrible and so destructive. When I read stories about people who have lost their lives to addictions, it breaks my heart. I thank God for my friends who have been able to overcome their addictions and I pray for anyone who is struggling that they will find the strength to recover.

  4. I wonder how many meeting’s he was attending . Rarely have we seen a person fail who has thoroughly followed our path !!
    Thoroughly we see people that rarely follow our path !!

  5. Thanks, Mike. Honestly, I haven’t read the Big Book in many years. For those wondering, Mike is referring to a passage from Chapter 5:
    “Rarely have
    we seen a person fail who has
    thoroughly followed our path. Those who do not
    recover are people who cannot or will not completely
    give themselves to this simple program, usually men
    and women who are constitutionally incapable of be­
    ing honest with themselves. There are such unfortu­
    nates. They are not at fault; they seem to have been
    born that way. They are naturally incapable of grasp­
    ing and developing a manner of living which demands
    rigorous honesty. Their chances are less than average.
    There are those, too, who suffer from grave emotional
    and mental disorders, but many of them do recover if
    they have the capacity to be honest.”

  6. Beautifully honest, this was one of your finest pieces. I would guess because of your passion
    for addiction, that you wrote this with your heart.
    Thanks Jana!

  7. Amazing and so true to all we know live grow thru mend consider heal move forward and backward!! We are amazing gifted talented above the norm people. Muggles have no clue how or what makes us tick! Your story should be passed and then re- passed for eternity!! Thank u

  8. Beautiful post. I lost a loved one recently to addiction, so this really hits home for me. I look forward to reading more.

  9. Oddthat you call Freud a neurologist…mand he died from cancer caused by smoking cigars. I suppose that could be called substance abuse, bit it seems a bit of a stretch.

  10. First time to your blog. Moving. I can surely relate. Lost so many to this disease myself. Thank you for sharing.

  11. This was wonderful to ready. Especially if you know someone with an addiction and see how it is destroying lives. Very nicely done

  12. Thank you for this ….. My name is JT and I am a recovering addict and alcoholic with 29 yrs clean and sober. I truly understand how relapse can happen after so many years of recovery, addiction is a very patient monster that lives in us addicts. I have so many friends that have overdosed and found with a needle in their arm.
    Most recently my best friend. If the media reported every addict that over dosed there would be no time for regular programming and that is so sad !!!
    Mr Hoffman’s passing touched my heart, RIP no more battles no more monsters just rest and be free

  13. I do agree that those with addictions have a mental sickness, and a long and difficult (and most likely a life-long) battle ahead of them, but I don’t believe it’s right to classify alcoholism or drug addiction as a disease. Cancer is a disease, MS is a disease, diabetes is a disease. Addiction is something that an individual does to themselves, knowingly and repeatedly. I am not minimizing the difficulty of overcoming addiction (or even that it can be overcome), but to compare an alcoholic to a cancer patient does a great disservice to the person with cancer. They do not drag themselves to a cancer bar and pay money to inject themselves with cancer. They do not inflict their disease on those around them, ruining not just their own lives but the lives of those around them. Their disease is thrust upon them, whereas an addict seeks out their “disease”. I may sound cold and bitter, but speaking as someone who has lived with alcoholics and paid the price for their addictions, I have a hard time feeling sorry for them. Yes, they need our support, and yes, they have a long road ahead of them, but they have a choice. Everyday that they wake up, they have a choice. A person with a real disease does not. When a person kills themselves (and that is exactly what has happened when an addict dies with a needle in their arm), they have committed the most selfish act imaginable. If the articles I read are true, Hoffman was scheduled to spend the day with his children, but was instead shooting himself up with heroin. Because of his decision, his children will grow up knowing that drugs were more important to their father than they were. That is selfish, that is heartless, that is a decision, not a disease.

  14. How perfect your gift of words and passion have come together for this piece. I’ve been on several sides of this disease called addiction and the hardest thing to deal with, the hardest thing that kept me away from treatment is the stigma and the doubt people have that this ‘is’ a disease. With your words you have helped so many people you may never know the numbers, but just know we’re here…reading.

  15. This particular addict hit me hard. Tomorrow will be my 23yrs. I have lost so many. We can never become complacent and must continue to give back. God Bless All Addicts inside and outside

  16. What a beautifully written article! Profound & powerful. I am a recovering addict who with a daily programme am able to stay sober one day at a time. It requires vigorous honesty & to never ever forget where I come from. Thank you for your insightful article!

  17. Not a stretch at all. More people die from illnesses caused by nicotine addiction than all drugs and alcohol combined..

  18. As the muggle parents of a recovering addict, the fear of a relapse hovers constantly in the darker recesses of our consciousness. Loving our addict and taking it one day at a time with the program help. Shares like this are reassuring and comforting. Thank you

  19. Wow, that was amazing. Totally true on every point. My son is just over 2 years clean, for the 3rd or 4th time. This time something clicked, he has his kids back, started a business and charging forward. It is a very slow process for them to get all of the pieces back together, but it can be done.

  20. Thank you, and yes…it CAN be done! I think you make a very valid point….it takes much time and work to move in a forward-going direction with recovery, but it can be undone quickly. I’m so glad your son has 2 years clean time..that’s HUGE. May he have many, many more.

  21. Oh my. What an honor that God gives me the words to share, and the courage to share them. I think so many people just simply don’t ‘know’ that addiction = disease. And others, they know, but don’t want to accept it. Makes it seem “too easy,” I suppose. Oh, if only they knew that ‘easy’ is the LAST thing about this DISEASE. God bless you and thank you so much for sharing that. Praying that you will step into treatment – you have a fantastic life out there to live! 🙂

  22. Nice to meet you, JT. Yes….addiction is a very “patient monster.” I really like that terminology.
    Congrats on 29 years of sobriety – that’s fantastic. God bless you.
    And yes, rest in peace, Mr. Hoffman.

  23. The American Medical Association (AMA) had declared that alcoholism was an illness in 1956. In 1991, The AMA further endorsed the dual classification of alcoholism by the International Classification of Diseases under both psychiatric and medical sections. Pam, I’m sorry but you are making assumptions in your post that are simply not true. There is too much to discuss here, but because you don’t understand it doesn’t make it true. Please take some time to learn more, you may save the life of a friend or family member someday.

  24. Thanks for that. I can understand why people sometimes feel that addiction could not be a legitimate disease. I would imagine it would feel an awful lot like giving a person who hurt you “a pass” on their behavior. I hate that the disease of addiction leaves such a wake of pain in the lives of so many, but I can assure anyone – the addict does not ‘wish’ to be a slave to a substance any more than anyone would ‘wish’ to have cancer.

  25. I can’t find word to tell you what impact your article had on me.
    During my six years of recovering none has ever touched my inner as you have.
    I cried and cried. And felt so much love.
    You know me, and I know you.
    As anyman and anywoman do.
    Thank you!

  26. Yes very much. Im trying to get positive affirmations out on my blog and im still working on it. I just like to ch e ck other blogs out for ideas and how they tell the stories. I use a lot of images. Congrats on ur sobriety 11 years woohoo

  27. Beggars bakery. . This story is awesome did u write it urself.. If so I would like to put it in a NA newsletter. I’m the editor I think this would be awesome to put in there… please let me know…

  28. I loved reading your post and the comments that followed. I have ben feeling awful about this loss in particular- PSH and I were 3 days apart and both got sober at 22 years old. I did not know him but I did see him in meetings occasionally. I don’t know why I stayed and he didn’t- I wish I knew why some of us get it and some of us struggle. I am grateful that I have been able to stay on my “knees” and I try to find things to be grateful for everyday. Today I am grateful that I know what my “problem” is!
    Bless all of you!

  29. I love this and wish everyone would read it, especially ones that are not educated on addiction, don’t understand it or judge it. I am not an addict, but had a brother that suffered from it among many friends. Everything you said was so true. Thank you for sharing this!

  30. “We are brought to our knees in a desperation that normally-wired brains cannot fathom. And we can get better – if we stay on our knees”

    The key word for me is “desperation”. I was willing to do absolutely anything to stay sober when I was new…I was as willing as the dying could be. Then as the pain subsided, the dark clouds lifted, and I could see a glimmer of hope…it was as if I wasn’t as desperate, or as alcoholic, as I was when I was new.

    “For if an alcoholic failed to perfect and enlarge his spiritual life through work and self-sacrifice for others, he could not survive the certain trials and low spots ahead.” BB pg14-15

    I have seen complacency take so many lives…and it almost took mine!

    Will be celebrating 23yrs clean & sober on Feb 13/ 2014.

  31. Thank you! It’s hard to see anyone struggle or suffer from addiction. It’s even harder when they are so down on themselves and feel overwhelmed and hopeless. He was sober for ten years, but after we lost our mother he slowly started back. I wish he could have read this. I know you inspire and help many with your posts. You have a wonderful way with words. That’s a great gift to have! ♥

  32. No need to apologize for your ignorance, but almost all addicts are intelligent, sensitive people who were greatly harmed in childhood, and thus have a subconscious that works against them. Their behavior is simply beyond their control, just like non-addicts tend to have subconscious’s that work for their benefit. Most humans go through life unknowingly responding to subconscious stimuli that they weren’t responsible for. Just like you can’t really take credit for your wisdom and willpower, they were given to you. “What do you have that you did not receive? Now if you did indeed receive it, why do you boast as if you had not received it.” (1 Cor. 4) Drugs and alcohol are not the problem, they are the solution, but they are often the wrong solution. The problem is mental and spiritual caused by less than perfect parents, and it tends to affect the gifted more than the average, because of their deeper sensitivity to their damage. Doctors treat many people with mental damage through the use of drugs. 90% of the time it’s the same with addicts who are simply medicating themselves. What they need are compassion, understanding, and encouragement. The worst thing for them is judgmentalism, jail, or broken relationships from loved ones. They must first be healed of the deeper issues, and many don’t are so damaged that they can’t get past the anger they have lived with since childhood. I am a Drug Treatment Counselor and know that the only hope that really works is the 12-step program, which is basically a blueprint for forming a relationship with God.

  33. I know who you are too. The one who destroyed the life of my son. And my marriage. And rendered me bankrupt; financially, spiritually, and emotionally. You keep giving sympathy and forgiveness to yourself, because you know you don’t deserve it from me. It’s STILL all about you isn’t….

  34. I believe bi polar is a disease, or a chemical imbalance in the brain, that may cause one to drink or use drugs, to self medicate, but I’m not in agreeance that it is a disease. To me it is a choice. I’ve known many alcoholics and drug addicts that picked their DOC (drug of choice) over famiy, friends, jobs, kids, etc. I get that it gets a stronghold and is hard to recover, but it is possible. You fight it. Everyday. But everyday, you make the decision NOT to use if that is the CHOICE you want to make to have your family and friends, and all of the things you LOSE to your DOC. I have an alcoholic friend who has been in rehab 4 times, but she knows, from what they have all told her, that 95% relapse, so that’s her excuse. And she DOES choose, to go to the liquor store, and buy her vodka, and ignore her kids, and push those away who try to help her. She’s had counseling, I’m sure she needs more, but she has said she just wants to drink. It’s what she wants to do.

  35. Loved this article. My husband has been battling drug addiction for many years. And yes, it stemmed from a painful childhood. Most have left him…and some have left me for choosing to stay with him. He has been in and out of prison for 20 years…most of his adult life. We have been married for nearly 8 years and most of those years he was incarcerated, in and out, again and again. When sober, he is kind, considerate, tender, romantic, hard working, funny…a true jewel of a man. I see him in your article. It pains me when he tells me how tormented his addiction leaves him…and how guilty. But as Dr. Phil says, you never give in to the addiction. And so I will stand by him….because I know that God can and will deliver him from this horrible disease when he is ready. He fights daily to keep his mind in the right frame. He desperately wants to change and be free. If people understood how complex this disease is, they would stop being so judgmental. Addicts needs help, not criticism. Thank you again for giving us a glimpse into the true souls of those trapped in addiction. God bless you.

  36. Your entry definitely hits home. Addiction isn’t biased. I was raised in a family of addicts. I myself drink too much. I have seen the ruins left behind by alcoholism and drug addiction. My aunt is 4 years sober this year. She was a wreck. Lost everything. Now she has a job she loves , her own apartment and most importantly her faith in God and life back. I admire those who get sober and proceed with one foot front of the other. It isn’t easy. As for Philip Seymour , I am crushed like many of us are. He gave remarkable performances and established himself as one of the loved actors of this era. Like I said earlier , addiction knows no bias. Thanks for the great read.

  37. Thank you. I think people should read this.. can u email me the story to my email.. i would appreciate it. Thank you so much..

  38. My husband chose alcohol over me. He was sober three months, lost his sobriety over the holidays, and then walked out on me Jan 4 with no warning or reason. I lost him to alcohol.

  39. Yes! God truly can deliver your husband. And God may do with him what he has done for me. I know that God delivers people all the time, instantly. But for me and my recovery walk (every one of us is different) I still occasionally battle with stinkin’ thinkin’……but I just don’t pick up, no matter what, and I keep my relationship with Christ front-and-center, and he gets me through it. I have to give my disease over to God every single day, because I know if I pick up, I will be right where I was 13 years ago. Like the “thorn” in the Apostle Paul’s side that he begged God to remove, and God said, “No. My grace is sufficient for you.” Yeah, that’s kind of my sobriety. My thorn isn’t ‘gone’ but His grace? It is more than sufficient. God bless you and your husband.

  40. You nailed it there….it IS a complex disease. Prayers for you and your husband, and your marriage. It is a weary fight sometimes. When people says it is a choice, they are correct in that there is choice involved. But when your brain chemistry is hijacked and you can’t stop – as if someone is possessing you to drink and use – it doesn’t feel like a choice, I promise you. What sane person would have 23 years sobriety and pick up again? His life seemed wonderfully charmed during his 23 years of sobriety! The answer of course, is NO sane person. Nobody would want to blow all of that and die an early death. The compulsion to seek that high is just too strong.

  41. Love this! Like they say, ‘park avenue or park bench’ makes no difference. Just celebrated 4 years sober and grateful for the gift of desperation.

  42. Great article, Feb 21, 2019 my sobriety date. I took the saying “So you have thirty days sober. Now you want to be substance abuse counselor”. I went back to grad school 3 months sober. I now have my LPC and a counselor at a well known Rehab. I fight every day against the disease. If I could only help an occasional alcoholic or addict remain sober/clean I feel I am worth it again. I do not try to fool myself that all I see will remain sober/clean. This disease is “cunning, baffling, powerful.

  43. I can’t tell you how dead right you are ,I am a struggling ,relapsing alcoholic I am 51 ,on wellfare ,I have lost everything everything I ever loved ,I try so hard to not tear myself apart because of what addiction has done to my life ,my family has kicked me to the curb ,the list goes on and on for me and people all around me ,.What you wrote is the most right on ,dialed in truth about the stigma ,the hell ,lonely ness , phycological hell ,walking alone and dead .It makes me sick how america treats us non superstars elite people ,you nailed it .If your some star you get the sympathy ,the best damn care in the world ,all your actions are swept away as soon as you re-appear ,then away they go .The real people of this earth get treated like shit ,crap state funded jail food rehabs ,starting to get on my feet was left all to me ,Im o.k today some one bought me an old motor home ,thank god ,I have food ,a roof ,a bed,AA and real friends most of all I have GOD. Thank You

  44. Thank you for this beautiful article. Although, I am not an addict I lost my brother to this disease 8 years ago. He was only 25. I find so many times people cast judgments when they dont know anything about it. It is a horrible disease and a constant battle. Thank you for sharing this!

  45. I could have written this too. My husband starting drinking again after 7 years of sobriety in 1981 (when our son was 1 year old). When he couldn’t get enough alcohol in him to feel the euphoria (tolerance level was way too high) then he became violent. I had to leave him to try to save our son from the abuse. And now my son is also an addict (in spite of all of my efforts to prevent him from going down the same path). I pray for you because bitterness and lack of forgiveness is not going to help you heal and continue to move forward. Forgiveness was hard for me to find as well (not as much for what he did to me, but for what he did to our son). After many years of reading, studying, and yes some therapy as well, I have that forgiveness (notice I don’t say that I condone, and certain that I will never understand), but the forgiveness has been self-healing. I pray for that for you too.

  46. There are many who claim that the 12-step program set them free from addiction, and, indeed, that is the experience of many, if not most, the those who are now free of both their chemical use, and the deeper cause, self-rejection, learned as a child. Yet the 12 steps state clearly in Step One that “we admitted we were powerless over our addiction.” Step Two: “We came to believe that there was Greater Power (not from us) who could restore our sanity.” The remainder of the steps include forgiveness of ourselves and others, seeking the same, looking at ourselves and daily evaluating where we might improve. But the initial ability to stop is beyond our control, it is a matter of Supernatural power. Many who claim to been set free by working the 12 steps seem to forget that the miracle came from God, and not themselves. In fact, those who say, I wanted to kill myself (or drink or use, it’s the same thing) and now I don’t, are trying to make themselves look good (something we all do) which is part of their disease of self-rejection. Self-acceptance takes great courage, and for those of us who have been damaged from childhood, it seems impossible. Seeking fame, money, power, a shiny truck or car, a “hot” spouse, success, perfection, religion (to the extreme), and losing weight are all very tempting to someone who wants to be likes and admired. But these things are all part of the larger temptation of self-rejection. Having the courage to accept yourself as you are comes easy for some, but for many, it’s nearly impossible to think of one good thing about themselves. Drugs take our pain of self-rejection away like shopping, work, perfection, overeating, sexual perversion, false pride and even religion does for others. Coming to realize that God loves us as we are, RIGHT NOW, not as we ought to be, because no one is as they ought to be, is the knowledge that will lead us to have the courage to accept that we are accepted. Those who credit themselves for their laughable “worthiness” don’t dare admit it, and though they say it was their choice, it was their “strength”, are seriously unaware of their own fallacious pride. You are loved by God with all your sins, whom Jesus alone took care of, not you, not one iota. You are loved by God and considered by Him to be priceless. That’s it. Own your nothingness, which is true and humble. You are broken and God loves you anyway, because God’s love is not based on your performance. That’s the world’s system, that’s the enemies system. Do you give your children gifts because they deserve them? No, you give them presents because of who you are: loving. Thank you for the pleasure of sharing my thoughts and thank you for reading this. In His Grace, Dan

  47. I loved, Loved, LOVED this article! You are poised, articulate and incredibly accurate in your assessment of addition. I have been clean coming up on 28 years (yes, I was 21 when I came into the Program back in the 80’s) and thankfully, through the Fellowship have found no reason so far to go back out there and “try it” again. New people consistently remind me that it’s just as bad (if not worse) out there than “way back when”. Keep writing, you’re doing a wonderful job for our community! Attraction, not promotion, but no one said anything about commenting on an article of a wonderful actor as Philip Seymour Hoffman. I’ve loved him for years!! Keep it going, girl.

  48. I love this article. Thank you so much for sharing. I will be Celabratibg six years clean on the 27th can testify that it is a disease and without constant vigilance one can slip back so easily. Even with 23 years clean. It’s heartbreaking

  49. I have nothing left from my brother and sister who fell to the persistent call of depression and addiction. I’m the last of my Mother’s and Father’s love for this world. I forgave them and loved them regardless of the wins and losses. But today, and for every day I have left, I simply miss them.

  50. Pam, what victims of cancer, diabetes, and other diseases have in common with addicts is powerlessness over their disease. The addict did not choose to be an addict any more than someone with diabetes chose to have diabetes. And it is no more a matter of control than a cancer patient has control over the cause and symptoms of the disease. IF an addict can put together a day or two or three of continuous sobriety, there is hope that s/he can go into remission and remain there for many years, perhaps a lifetime. But there is no guarantee. My brother can drink like a normal person, but I cannot. Do you seriously think that I chose that? I quit drinking in 1984 and then relapsed on pain medication sixteen years later. Nine months after that, I was able to get sober again (after nearly dying of an overdose), and I have been clean and sober for nearly fifteen years now. Do you think I am weak? Do you think that I would “choose” to drink or drug again? Is that why I go to meetings of other alchoholics and addicts on a regular basis? Do you think I don’t have anything else to do with my time? If you do not understand this disease, that’s okay; no one expects you to. But please don’t make assumptions and pass judgment on things you don’t understand. I am so sorry that this disease has hurt you, too.

  51. Jana, my friend in sobriety and in life. Thank you for writing such a powerful piece. I believe going to meetings is vital but we must also remember that part of recovery is relapse, even when you have a seat in meetings. That’s the cunning and baffling part. I had 9 months, attending meetings, group meetings, counseling and relapsed. Happy to say this year (God willing) my husband will be 16 years sober but when things like this happen and it doesn’t have to be someone famous, it sure shakes one up. Keep up your powerful, truthful and grip writing. It’s a beautiful thing.

  52. Hmmm…..I believe I’d had him on the original list, not sure where he went. The link below the names of celebrities lost will take you to a more comprehensive list of many more people who have died of addiction.

  53. Kathleen, thank you so much. When I sat down to write it, it started as just a short little thing about Mr. Hoffman, but God just kept pouring words into me, and wouldn’t you know? They kind of spilled out onto the page. Congrats on 28 YEARS! That is just phenomenal!!!!

  54. Anonymous, I am saying a special prayer that you will experience something supernatural this week to restore your faith in God and in yourself. This disease doesn’t have to take you down. Please keep fighting, one single day at a time!

  55. He is listed on the secondary list at the bottom of the article. By the way, loved the article and as an addict who is 3 years sober, I have so much trouble trying to get people to understand that no addict chooses to commit suicide, it is almost always an accident. Very frustrating. Thanks for writing.

  56. As recovering people, we shouldn’t blame anyone or anything for our problems. Who cares if there is a stigma? Let God take care of that. If we let our recovery speak for Him and for sobriety, the rest will take care of itself. This includes respecting the tradition of anonymity and the principle of humility.

  57. I see all these beautiful post of loss, gratitude, opinions and I simply get overwhelmed with joy. I have experienced the side of having an alcoholic mother as well as I am an alcoholic myself with 6 years of sobriety. I truly was unable to forgive my mother even though I wanted to because of all the hurt I went through and right before she passed away I sought outside help and had a break through, I hated the disease not her because it had my mother and I didn’t. A few days before my mother passed she was without flaw in my eyes and still is. I have applied the steps in my life, worked the steps in my life and it was not until I sought outside help that I was able to see this. The book says that sometimes we need outside help as well and for so long I was against it. Pam the disease word had to be broken down for me dis- ease. Not living comfortably in skin. Needing medication to get better. When sober it’s the program, when out there it’s self-medicating. My mother has overdosed in front of me many times and I have told myself I would never be like her and well I didn’t know when or what or how but I too started to do the same as her. We lose the choice, we are powerless against the first of anything if we are not equipped with the tools daily. Hope this helps.

  58. The disease was broken down to me like this…. Dis-ease. Uncomfortable in skin. When sober program is the medication, out of the program you self medicate. I am a double winner which means I am an alcoholic who also has had a mother who suffered from the disease. Did I choose to follow my mothers foot steps after all the overdoses and living from family member to family member, I don’t think so. Actually I didn’t want to be anything like her. I was mad at her. She was on many a fourth step, I just seemed to be unable to let go of one thing or another. ( thank god the list was getting smaller with her though.) willingness was what I had. I sought outside help, mother was topic #1 and obviously god knew it had to be done because I had a break through. Even though I am an alcoholic and know understand the disease I was mad at the disease because it had my mom and not me, my brother and sister had this bond with her that her and I didn’t have anymore ( sick one but it was one). I missed my mom. Well a few days of seeing this and having this breakthrough and her having no flaw she passed away. The program is about getting to the root of the problem. Thoroughly honest. I am just grateful that I had some time with my mom with love and compassion before she passed and not judgement. Thanks be to God and the key of willingness. DIS-EASE comes in many forms mentally or physically and Doctor’s or the program can help the right candidate.

  59. Just want to say that I’m greatly impressed by your writing style, and of course, content. Using spacing for emphasis and effect brings it closer to actual speech. I noted the Manning quote. As a former pastor, I’ve often thought about starting a church based on Christ, but using Manning’s writings as source material. I wanted to call it “The Sinners Only Church”;-) Brennan Manning changed my life in so many ways. I was greatly honored to spend a weekend retreat with him in Laguna Beach. I was shocked to find that in addition to his writing, inspired and brilliant, (I personally think that he was the most important Christian writer since Luther) he was also a bit of a showman who could really work an audience. His writing took me out of legalism and into grace, out of self-hatred and into self-love, out of addiction and into sobriety. I’ve made money most of my life writing commercials and news, but I was also a Broadway actor. 16 years ago I memorized 1st and 2nd Corinthians, and half of Romans (NKJ), and have been presenting them in costume for churches, prisons, convalescent homes, schools, etc. I have recently completed my 4th screenplay, all of them Christo-centric, and am now turning them into plays, after having little success pitching them in LA. Anyway, I’m glad I found your blog, and appreciate your point of view. I’m sure you have many friends. I would like to be one too. Respectfully, Dan

  60. Nice to “officially” meet you, Dan. I share your view on Manning. His singularly the most influential author in my life as well. I also enjoy Anne Lamott, and Dan Miller. But by and far, Manning changed my walk with Christ, directionally. God bless you and yours, and good luck in all of your endeavors. I’m of the mind the creative spark is truly divine.

  61. I have a style of writing formed by commercial writing for radio. I loved the challenge of finding the odd idea for getting attention. Many times I was inspired by doing a 180 and then adding or subtracting 10 degrees. Otherwise, I just steal stuff . . . and I put spaces between my dots . . . Capiche?


  63. Just because he died from prescriptions does NOT make Heath Ledger a drug addict. He used the right amount, but his DOCTOR gave him the wrong combination. He has NO history of addiction and he is innocent of your inference without proof. Please, do not lump famous people in that don’t belong just to get a more positive response.

  64. I can assure you I am not ‘lumping famous people in’ to get a more ‘positive response.’ Ledger’s death report concluded, in part, “Mr. Heath Ledger died as the result of acute intoxication by the combined effects of oxycodone, hydrocodone, diazepam, temazepam, alprazolam and doxylamine.”[7][9] It states definitively: “We have concluded that the manner of death is accident, resulting from the abuse of prescription medications.” As ‘abuse’ was in his death report, I assumed addiction. Arguing abuse and addiction seems like semantics to me, but you do have a valid point. Thank you for stating it. I meant no disrespect, and am – in fact – admittedly not a reporter, but a simple blogger.

  65. This last post sounds exactly like my son, my only child. I have lost my way in trying to give him the guidance to fight for his life and family, and become a sober surviving alcoholic. I live in fear when the phone rings or when an email is sent from his wife. I pray he will find his way before he has lost it all. I pray God will enlighten his way. Bailing him out his whole life has not worked and I take some responsibility for not being tougher, sooner. He scares me and so I retreat. These comments are comforting and at the same time remind of the fearfulness in which I dwell. Turning it over to God is the best course of action I can find these days. I wish I could find the magic words that would set him on the right track. Love is the best one I’ve got and it still doesn’t seem to be enough. I am so glad someone shared this w/me on their facebook page. I feel less alone.

  66. that is a pill junkie’s version of a long island iced tea. from experience i can say that mixture is self-abusive and recreational only.

  67. Laura, very sorry for your loss. I have walked many miles in those same shoes. I learned, over time and with the help of Alanon, that my husband did not really choose his addictions over me. Leaving me and his children behind added to his grief, sorrow, anger and unbearable loneliness. It resulted in him diving headfirst into his addictions until they destroyed his health, his credit rating, his everything. However, it was not personal and not about me at all. He was stricken with addictions and, like any disease, he did not choose it and could not control it. Neither could I. He was lost to alcohol and drugs. I hope you find peace of mind and know that you are a precious child of creation, worthy of love, support, joy and a grand future. Focus on your gifts and count your blessings. This too shall pass.

  68. Sending you and your son prayers, Christine. I am both a recovering alcoholic, and a child of one. It sounds like turning it over to the will of God might be the best thing you can do for your son right now. You are SO not alone!

  69. gorgeous. there but for the grace of God go I. i’m an ACOA x 2. it’s brutal. my mother recently died of cardia arrest, but she suffered long with addiction and doubt and depression and anxiety all my life. i raged against her, for years, to try to get her to stop. i was young. there was no shaming that i was capable of that would eclipse her own private hell and inner dialogue. just months before she died, i got “it”; it finally sank in. i “saw” her, so we healed a little and then >poof< she was dead. my education continues. when PSH died, i felt her very strongly, she was there, helping me write what i wrote. i miss her dearly; more than when she was alive. she died sober though, envisioning a root beer float with my dad; they were on their way to get ice cream, an annual end-of-summer rite on Labor Day. God be with us all. xo

  70. That’s a strong mixture of opiates and benzos (benzodiazepines). Pretty much a recipe for overdose. One can argue a distinction between “abuse” and “addiction”, however those of us in recovery from active addiction have learned that if it looks like a duck, talks like a duck, and walks like a duck, then there’s a pretty good chance that it’s a duck. No offense to fans, but that sounds like a drug overdose to me, whether accidental or intentional.

  71. Oh my. I am so, so sorry for your loss, and so grateful you had some measure of healing. Your post here is extraordinarily beautiful, and I thank you from the bottom of my heart for sharing it. Yes, God bless us all.

  72. I am with Pam and Me on this, sorry Dan and Michele. I believe AFTER detoxification it is a choice. It is the addicts hedonistic pursuit of pleasure and bliss and the ultimate high that leads them down that path. How else can you explain the continued path when love and support is all around them. Cancer patients DO NOT HAVE A CHOICE! As far as bad things happening as children, I had something very bad happen to me as a child, yes I was Raped at 8 years old, but I CHOSE not to let that label me, memories painful sure, sometimes unbearable. Why in the world would I CHOSE to drink or medicate to numb the memories, they’ll still be there when I come out of the stupor. Why would I CHOSE to alienate my love, my children, endanger my job for a few hours of solace(imagined solace). Spin this however you want, but in the end, the more you keep excusing the behavior of selfish addicts and coddle them, they will continue to use and die. While the AMA has recognized Alcoholism, it HAS NOT recognized Narcotic Addiction as a disease. The only reason it’s been pushed as a disease is so REHAB facilities can get medical insurance to pick up the tab. Follow the money trail, rehab is big business and has a 3 percent success rate! 3%!!!!!!!! Would you go to a doctor that lost 97% of his patients!??!?!

  73. Today I pray that God would give me peace in my heart as well as my mind. And that with His help I can forgive and love again. My husband has relapsed for a long time now. Although he tries to stay sober he fails over and over. So much damage has been done. I find it hard to show him love. Like somehow my anger and resentment is justified because of what he has “done” to me. I know it’s not personal but I take it personal. I want so much to forgive and live without anxiety and fear. And to love him unconditionally. It is so hard to admit but I have shamed him. I have treated him so poorly because I feel he chooses drugs over his family. I have become sick. We both need Jesus. We need him to mend our brokenness and heal our family. Thank you for sharing. It was a great reminder for me of what my husband is going through and needs from me.

  74. You truly touched me. Addiction in all of it’s forms have effected my life from birth, and has been in my family for generation. Whether it was my higher power, a grandmother’s prayers or just some strange twist of DNA, I have been blessed with the ability to get out from under. Back in the early 70’s, I went into treatment. Not to say i didn’t have my struggles… No, I am an addict! Yet … The worse thing is watching ones you love go through and not being able to help, feeling completely and utterly helpless. At the same time fighting to keep your own sobriety! How to love another and love yourself is a remarkably hard thing to do. I can not tell you how many times I sat in the rooms quiet so someone I loved could tell their story… even while so mad all I wanted to do was get up and scream, “LIAR!” It is so hard to think of it as a disease, as something someone is not doing to you. Even though you yourself has fought with it. You say I did it ..stop being weak ! I have heard these very words come out of my mouth! I watched my Father die a senseless death from alcohol, Only to have my ex husband die from the aftereffects of drug addiction, 2 years later. I live in a state of worry because my sons who are men have the genes from both sides . I hate this disease and am blessed to be a survivor. But by the grace of G-d there go I

  75. Don’t give up, there is a God out there understanding your turmoil and I am so sure that God will give you and your family the strength to find your way. Shame does not help anyone, but you are human and sometimes you “just” have to know that the Almighty will give you the right words and actions to make a difference for everyone involved. Count to 10 when you need to. Expect a miracle and say thanks for it in advance, it will come if you expect it. Try to love him, or at least treat him lovingly, even when it’s not easy, maybe if you act “as if” it will come. Your story sounds so familiar to me. My thoughts, love and prayers are with you today.

  76. Yes, I want so badly to agree with you wholeheartedly… and yet I know That once they have started down that path , the substance becomes their world. I have been the child and the wife of addicts and fought with them and for them. I am an addict that was blessed and was able to stop after two years in a treatment facility. Yes back in the good old days treatment lasted years. I have had a few slips and by the grace of g-d they have all been very short … never long term. I believed that everyone was the same … Not true. I since have tried to stop smoking and have learned what it feels like to be helpless. Yes I go out and buy my cigarettes. yes I should by all wisdom and judgement be able to say no! I know about addiction I should be able to not go to that store.. I will lie, cheat, count pennies… No I haven’t sold my body yet, but I do know that if it gets bad enough I just might! I hate the smell, the taste , that my home smells of it , my clothes and hair smell of it, that I could die because of it and yet I am unable to this point in time to get past four days without them! Cold turkey! I have in the passed stopped for as much a 18 months with medication and hypnosis. Do I wish I had never started… on a daily basis I fantasize a life where I never knew what a cigarette was. I can run the gamut of self loathing and guilt, to a, “I deserve a little comfort in this life”. So I don’t know if that helped you any I hope it does. It is something, call it what you will… we are helpless against it, Maybe it is a disease of the spirit?

  77. Reading this and many of the comments makes me a better person. I see addiction with more clarity now. It give me better understanding and has taught me to be more compassionate and caring.

    Thank you and May God continue to Bless you richly.

  78. YOU chose?
    \From where did your power to choose come?
    Do you take credit for having been created with your power to make wise choices?
    Do you not see that others may not have the ability that you do?
    You did not create your own mind, it was given to you.
    Every act that you commit that seems to be wise to you came from your mind, which contains some given wisdom in certain areas. Being able to react wisely to a given set of circumstances through the use of human wisdom, and expecting everyone else to be able to do the same is like saying “I don’t understand why you can’t beat me at chess, it’s simple logic and probability!”
    Most people aren’t even aware of what’s bothering them until post-middle age. An intelligent child will resort to extreme mental behavior to save themselves from extremely tortuous emotional (or other) abuse situation. That mindset, so helpful to a powerless child, creates a deep-seated set of norms that will rarely be helpful, and in fact probably hurtful, as they age. I can’t tell you how many times my parents, having been told that their son had an IQ of 135, and who seemed to be a natural leader, for some reason always chose to lead in the wrong direction. Hundreds of times my parents would look at me, amazed, and say the same thing, “Why didn’t you think before you did (or said) that?” Having been spanked once again for making a wrong choice, I would sit in my room, looking in the mirror, crying out to God, “Yes God, why didn’t I think before I did (or said) that? Why?”
    The truth is that some of us were damaged, and then to survive we cut ourselves off from wisdom, love, feelings and thoughts at age 3, and found that they was still gone at age 33, STILL not understanding why.
    Much later in life I discovered what had so continuously escaped me. I was so hurt that I was going to get even with my mother by killing myself!
    Dig that logic!
    It makes no sense, but that is the underlying truth with myself and most addicts, we were trying to hurt ourselves in order to hurt those who hurt us. I had made bad choices my whole life, but I had never understood what, or why, I was doing.
    My whole life I had wanted to kill my father, hurt my mother, and had also been furious at God for my circumstances.
    It was only when I got to know God that I realized I had been believing a lie, and acting out of rage, and had never been aware of it! Now I realize that those behaviors were helpful, for a moment, to a powerless child, but worked against me for the rest of my life, and I had never known it!
    My salvation in this life and my homecoming in the next life are not because I deserve it. I know that. God knows that I know that, and He will have mercy on me.
    Are you aware, truly aware that you don’t deserve it either, and that anything good or wise or noble that you think you’ve accomplished in your life is not your own, it is a gift that was given to you?
    So giving yourself credit for having made good choices is fallacious, and the actual good things you try to do are like filthy rags, according to the Bible. Do you give your children gifts because they deserve them? No, you give them gifts because you love them, which is also a gift.
    “The Lord sees the proud from far away and keeps His distance, yet to the humble He draws near.” (Proverbs)
    I pray you will learn to accept your basic nothingness and be grateful for His love, His gifts, and His salvation. May we, as one people, celebrate our unworthiness and utter praise to the One who knows all.
    God Bless You, and anyone who receives this, Daniel

  79. Ledger was indeed an addict. He struggled with heroin and depression in his life. In fact, Hoffman worked with Ledger in the past to kick his addictions. Whether or not his medications were taken as prescribed is not the issue, because they were from different doctors. His doctor did not give him the wrong combination, he was seeing too many doctors. Three of them were in Europe. I encourage you to read more about this situation.

  80. I shared this on my FB page as one of the most eloquent writings on Addiction I have ever read, and I truly mean that, I have sat here now and read this over three times, it is powerful beyond words it has touched my soul…..we are human~

  81. Thank you for reminding me of that. We are living that life together, and I pray daily for God to bless my husband and change me, that I don’t step on his battered soul at a time when he can barely hold it together. It is my fear that lashes out at him, and I must turn my fear over daily and ask for guidance on how I can be better and do better for my family. In that way, I can be stronger in my own recovery. But I can never forget I have only a daily reprieve. Sometimes only a momentary reprieve…

  82. Hi Dan ,My name is Jon and I have 15 day,s again , Thank you I could clearly relate so well to your message,your right on ,god bless you and Your family.

  83. I am a recovering addict these stories are very touching. I just can say everyday,
    I am giving my addiction to MY GOD.

  84. What do I do if I think a mom in the neighborhood has a drinking problem but I’m not in her family or one of her close friends. Just pray for her? That’s all I can think of to do. It’s not my place to confront her. I don’t even know if that’s the case for sure but from what I am reading and learning I’m pretty sure it is. Worried but at a loss…

  85. Try Nar-Anon or Al-Anon, recovery support for relatives and friends. It helps to share your feelings with others who’ve been there too.

  86. I’m sorry, but, you lost me at “We need God most of all.” It was interesting up to that point though.

  87. Great message. And to “anonymous” who said “you lost me at ‘We need God most of all.’….. I am not Christian either but this IS a Christian Blog. You’d have to expect that message. Just replace the word “God” for what works for you in your quest for recovery.

    I am not Christian, and in fact fall verrrry far on the left side of Spirituality, but this is a wonderful message. I am 23+ years sober. The further you are away from a drink or drug…the closer you are to your next one.

  88. I am a recovering alcoholic of 40 years, the adult child of two alcoholics, both of whom died from the disease, sister to two alcoholics and mother to one alcoholic, all of whom are sober in AA. Just want to say that it IS possible to work the 12 steps of recovery without believe in an external higher power. I’ve seen too many people put off by recovery programs because of the perceived expectation that in order to succeed, one must “come to believe.” I and many friends have long term sobriety and most of us are agnostics, athiests or non-theists and have worked the programs successfully.

  89. I am where you are, my husband is an alcoholic,He was sober for three years and after relapsing for another year, he manage to stay sober for four months and relapsed again over a year ago. Each day gets worse, I currently feel as though we are spiralling out of control. He refuses to acknowledge that he has a problem, I really do not know where we go from here. I so wish I had faith.

  90. Thanks for this, Betsy. I can tell you firsthand from my perspective, I can not stay sober and have a meaningful recovery without God. Congratulations on your long-term sobriety….that’s awesome!

  91. Thank you for taking the time to read the piece. And yes, it is a Christian blog, about my personal journey. That being said, I hope you will come check it out now and then. Have a great week!

  92. For myself, and the group in recovery I am involved in, God is not only the most necessary component, but essential to my sobriety. I would be dead right now, if it were not for the compassionate and overflowing grace of Christ. I am (of course) alive, and it would seem a shame not to give credit where it is (more than) due. Thanks so much for reading. I hope you have an awesome upcoming week!

  93. Hmmmm….from the information you’ve given, yes….I would pray for her. Unless you know that she is placing her kids in danger, in which case – call the authorities. Just try to be kind to her, and ask God to reveal to her that she may be struggling with the issue. She is blessed to have a caring neighbor like you. God bless.

  94. I guess what it boils down to is one’s definition of God or one’s spiritual path. Many of us find our sobriety through touching our own inner health/sanity, whether we call it the grace of god or basic goodness or Buddha nature or the seed of enlightenment. I don’t think long-term, cheerful recovery is possible with NO spiritual path. My previous post was misleading – spirituality is they key and I didn’t mean to imply there was a void, I just wanted to point out that the traditional American view of higher power is not the only way.

  95. I, too, hate this disease – I understand! You are a much-loved child of the Father, and your sons are blessed to have you as a parent. This is HARD STUFF to deal with! Hurt people hurt people. I pray right now that you will be comforted in know you are not all alone. God bless you.

  96. First I would like to thank you for such an informative and inspiring post. I wanted to respond immediately but I felt I had so much to say I would write it down first. 8 pages later I was almost done. So I can’t put all of that in a response but would like to say something. My husband has struggled with addiction for the majority of our 24 years together. Brief periods of sobriety followed by longer and longer times of serious drug use. Pain pills, benzodiazepines were his DOC. I never could quite get that it is a disease until I read this post. Still not sure “disease” really fits but now I do understand why. And to the person that said rehab is just a big scam, I would have agreed until now. Unfortunately I finally could no longer live with his addiction. I had to force him to leave. But I saved his life he now tells me. He went to a rehab that didn’t just detox him and then turn him loose after 7 days. 80+ days and he is still in the program and has moved to step 3 which is sober living, volunteering and working toward resuming work, etc. I felt and still feel tremendous guilt for turning him out with no job, no car, no place to live. But it had to be done or he would never have gotten to where he is now. I was his crutch, I worked, I provided, he drugged. So anyway, I understand the need for compassion but sometimes tough love is all you can do. He has those 80+ days sober now and sounds great. I am still leery having been through the early sobriety “high” many times but I hope it works for him this time. He seems more determined than in the past and he is working the program. Also I think because we lived in Texas but he is in rehab in Florida also helps. His two children want their dad to get sober as well. Their entire childhood is full of memories of things not done because their dad was high. I hope he can build an adult relationship with them. I am subscribing to your blog and sending him this post/link. Thank you again. It may be too late for our relationship but I have such a better understanding now. I feel much more able now to let go and let God. I hope God continues to guide your hand in writing. He has given you a marvelous gift which you’re using in a great and powerful way. Thanks for letting me ramble on and God’s continued blessing on you.

  97. There is lots of great stuff in this post. Thank you for sharing 🙂 However, to an atheists come across this and read this, please understand that you don’t need to believe in “god” to recover. You definitely don’t need “christ”. You need a power greater than yourself. This can be as simple as meetings, spiritual principles like honestly, open-mindedness, and willingness, and a phone full of numbers. Oh, and reality. Reality can be part your higher power, too. We don’t need hocus-pocus and magic. That might work for some people, but it doesn’t work for all us. We don’t need church. “Skewer the Stigma” that you need to believe in “god” recover.

    To the author, I know you have a right to your beliefs and I am truly happy that they have helped you overcome your addiction. I understand that for some people, they need to approach spirituality in the traditional way. I know this language structure is helpful to some. I also know that this is a Christian blog, and I respect your point of view and your right to share it. So many thing you said are on point, and I know this is being shared all over the net. I am only commenting because I want the still suffering atheist or agnostic addict to know that recovery is possible for them without having to pretend to believe something they don’t. There is no official approved higher power in 12-step fellowship (maybe some other recovery groups, but not NA or AA) and there are people in the rooms who can help you navigate your way through the troublesome language.

  98. There is lots of great stuff in this post. Thank you for sharing 🙂 However, to an atheists come across this and read this, please understand that you don’t need to believe in “god” to recover. You definitely don’t need “christ”. You need a power greater than yourself. This can be as simple as meetings, spiritual principles like honestly, open-mindedness, and willingness, and a phone full of numbers. Oh, and reality. Reality can be part your higher power, too. We don’t need hocus-pocus and magic. That might work for some people, but it doesn’t work for all us. We don’t need church. “Skewer the Stigma” that you need to believe in “god” recover.

    To the author, I know you have a right to your beliefs and I am truly happy that they have helped you overcome your addiction. I understand that for some people, they need to approach spirituality in the traditional way. I know this language structure is helpful to some. I also know that this is a Christian blog, and I respect your point of view and your right to share it. So many thing you said are on point, and I know this is being shared all over the net. I am only commenting because I want the still suffering atheist or agnostic addict to know that recovery is possible for them without having to pretend to believe something they don’t. There is no official approved higher power in 12-step fellowship (maybe some other recovery groups, but not NA or AA) and there are people in the rooms who can help you navigate your way through the troublesome language.

  99. This week the adoption of my granddaughter will be complete. It’s been a long five years for us. My daughters addiction has put us into a tailspin. This adoption is bittersweet but necessary for my young granddaughter. That you for your article. We have been through jail, court, prison, treatment, more court, jail and more prison. Treatment seems complete. We pray often

  100. @Anonymous; In Recovery the word “God” has a different meaning than in the rest of the world. It is merely a convenient reference to a spiritual path. Belief in the Judeo-Christian God is certainly not mandatory, by any stretch of the imagination! I have come to understand, with the help of my Sponsor and other Recovering Addicts, that there is some force greater than myself that I cannot explain, at work in my life. I have no need to have some graven image of some big white dude in flowing robes sitting on a cloud, hurling lightening bolts at “sinners”. The Higher Power of my understanding does not need to destroy anything to make a point. I think of this beneficent entity as Equilibrium. When I practice the positive spiritual principles that I have learned in my Program in all of my affairs, life hurts a LOT less. As a matter of fact, it just seems to get better all the time. I have stopped doing the same self-destructive things I used to do. I no longer try to manipulate people and institutions to get my way. When I do my very best to do the right thing, for the right reason, at the right time, things seem to work out even better than I had hoped. Sometimes, that means I do nothing more than shut up and let everyone else do what they need to, without interfering. Do I understand what “God” is? Nope. Don’t need to. No one can explain Gravity to you, but despite that, it still works. Same deal with the Higher Power thing. YOU get to decide what your concept of your HP is. No one else can define it for you. Don’t let the baggage of your past, associated with organized religion/”God”, rob you of an opportunity to broaden your horizons. Have a great day!

  101. There is no way on this earth that anyone should be taking that much or even that combination of drugs. Shame on doctors for prescribing them. Someone missed the boat there. Any one doctor would not have prescribed all that for one person. It had to have been multiple doctors. If it was one doctor and prescribed just because the personality wanted them, that doctor should have Licence revoked. I don’t think any competent doctor would even prescribe 2 of those together. Oxycodone is enough for any man by itself, prescribed by body weight, age, and with his personal health history in mind. That combo is enough to knock several elephants out. Good God, only someone who has developed QUITE a tolerance for that amount of drugs would be able to take all that and still wake up and function. Or he could have gotten that combo from friends and stockpiled his own little cocktail. My guess is that he knew what he was doing and knew what the outcome was going to be and was in such psychic pain. Only my opinion, not that it matters, but upshot is that the kinds of drugs and combination was sure to kill anyone that took what he took. Only 2 options in that scenario: either chronic habituation or suicide.

  102. I went to Betty Ford last year, Ill tell ya that your higher power doesn’t have to be God. If you are agnostic, atheist or whatever your beliefs are, that’s okay! Your higher power could be music, poetry, etc. I have a paper of the twelve steps that doesn’t even use the word God, if anyone is interested in it.

  103. oh, Laura. i cannot imagine what you are going through, but I hope you dont mind extra prayers. asking God to help you through this time. I am so glad you are there for your granddaughter.

  104. wow, that is powerful. I am so honored that you shared it here! as the saying goes, “it takes what it takes,” I pray that it TAKES for him, and that your best years are yet to come. God bless you, and thank you so much for your story.

  105. I feel compelled to add my opinion on this post from Anonymous (dated 2-7-14 at 11:33am) I, myself do not have a problem with saying I am an addict or a recovering addict. There is no way at this point that I am an “ADDICTION SURVIVOR” My views on someone who is an addiction survivor is someone who has passed away sober. The disease of addiction is nothing like cancer. Cancer can be treated and cured. Addiction can only be tamed, understood and arrested, at that point recovery is then possible. It is not promised, it is hard work and I have earned my seat as a recovering addict TODAY. But, only for today. I have walked through many heart-breaking events in my life with the help of my higher power, and the people I am close to in the program. In 2006, My dad died of cancer and my sponcer of 21 years pass due to a motorcycle accident. My life was an emotional tail spin. or so I thought at the time. In 2012, I received the call most all parents dread, my daughter was in an auto accident and died at the scene. Later in the following weeks, the toxicology report was finished and my worst fear was a reality. My daughter didn’t die from the accident. She died from an overdose and, that overdose caused the accident. At that time I had 26 years sober and my daughter knew about addiction and recovery. She grew up in the rooms with me. I had known prior to the accident that she had been using drugs and drinking( like most 21 year olds). Any time I would try to talk to her about what she was doing, the angry daughter came out. I knew at that point she was an addict. I did everything I could think of to try to help her and wake her up about this disease. I was not given enough time to help her. God took her home. In May of 2013, my mother passed away from renal failure and she was an addict too. She had a doctor that perscribed any and all pain pills she wanted. This started back in 2005. We as addicts, (recovering or not)do not have any guarentees of life. My higher power challenges me in many ways. Sometimes I don’t understand it but, I do accept it. On Feb. 14, 2014, I aspire to greatfully accept 28 years of sobriety. It is because of my higher power (whom I choose to call GOD) that I have traveled this journey in life. He has shown me how to be compassionate, loving, understanding and strong. NA has shown me how to put those in to my everyday life. I have people in my life, whom are also recovering addicts, that when I can not hold myself up, they do it for me. And i do that for them when they can’t. We love eachother, until we can love ourselves, and then we still love eachother. We are best friends with a bond that can not be broke. Some people turn to religion or psychology for recovery. I have to have NA in my life as well to balance things out. The people I know in these rooms and meetings keep it real for me. The newcomer who walks into the room scared and shaking is a reminder of what can happen if I ever use drugs again. It has been proven that we do pick up where we left off in active addiction. For me, today, I prefer to keep my disease in cuff and behind bars. Today my addiction is still arrested. If you do not have a higher power and do not know where to start, you can borrow my higher power, He is great and has a sense of humor. When I started in the rooms, those people with 10+ years of sobriety were my high power until I made the contact with GOD. I did it willingly and without hesitation. I wish everyone suffering by this disease peace, love, understanding and for GOD to bless you and protect you.

  106. All I can tell you is point of view. With due respect, as a Christ-follower, I am not going to change the style/wording of the posts to please all. I am also a member of Celebrate Recovery, which is definitely a Christ-centered 12-step program. I would never want anyone to pretend to be – or believe – something they don’t in order to get/stay sober, of course, because that would make the whole rigorous honesty basis for recovery impossible. All I can do is share my story. I am not the “baker,” but the “beggar” showing others where I found “bread.” And there is bread enough for everyone who asks me where I found it. Thank you so much for sharing your p.o.v. – I hope you have a great week!

  107. As a believer in a non traditional higher power unconstrained by dogma, I believe the path is the goal for everyone.

  108. Thanks for visiting the blog. As indicated on the header of the blog’s title, I am a Christian writer. I write a recovery blog for whomever would like to read it. It’s my story. Obviously, to my life, it is not “dogma” but life itself. Have a great week!

  109. Hi, and thank you for sharing your p.o.v. Reading this blog – the basis of which is that Christ (who, I assure you, is no Hocus Pocus) is the cornerstone of my recovery. I welcome you to keep visiting with an open mind, and perhaps heart. My language is not troublesome, it is the language of a powerful 12-step program called “Celebrate Recovery.” There is, in fact, a “higher power” approved by a legit 12-step program. There are tons of recovery bloggers whose work might offend you less. I hope you find some material that might speak to your heart more in line with your beliefs. I am not writing to please the masses, but to share my story. One alcoholic who found redemption, sobriety, life-to-the-full through the power of Jesus Christ.

  110. You are doing a miracle in your granddaughter’s life. My grandparents stepped in an adopted my brother and I when addiction was wrecking our mother’s life. And I have no doubt they saved my life. With them stepping in, I had a radical life change, I just recently graduated from a 4 year university (first female in my family to do so.) I know how hard it all is, and how selfless you are for adopting your granddaughter. But you are doing God’s work.

  111. Please do not equate cancer with addiction. In post after post I read of people facing everyday knowing they must choose to remain sober and must rely on God for strength to do it. Cancer patients have no choices. Cancer takes those away. It is not to be equated with addiction. Please don’t label me as ignorant. I am from a family of alcoholics and drug abusers. I support them in their struggle, although most of mine chose not to join a program and admit they were powerless over their addiction. It is a tremendous insult to those with terminal cancer to equate the two. My younger brother acquired Type 1 diabetes at 15. He, too struggles everyday and even if he does everything right, his life will be cut short by this illness. Don’t equate his struggle with addiction, either. I hear this all the time, usually from those in recovery who talk about themselves constantly because, in the end, it is really all about them. Not about their victims.This disease has inhabited my life since birth. My first memory is going to the “liquor joint” to look for my uncle. a loving and kind man who died from addiction.I have great sympathy for those in recovery and those who made the choice to deny and reject help and are no longer with us.I also grieve for my family members who died from cancer- no choices there-

  112. The article resonates on many levels for me. I’d like to share it with fellow NAMI Family-to-Family class facilitators and our students. NAMI is a non-profit organization that supports the care and recovery of those suffering with brain disorders. The F2F course provides education and resources for caregivers.

  113. Using / drinking is a choice. When the pain and consequences of using outweigh the pleasure of temporary escape — change can happen. I don’t believe God made me powerless over anything, on the contrary. I’m resilient, resourceful, and tenacious – I’m a survivor. He saved me several times before I made the decision to change and save myself. 12 years from alcohol, 10 from everything else. Do tools, tips, support help? Yes. I found the SMART (Self Management and Recovery Training) community to be beneficial in the early days. RIP Mr. Hoffman.

  114. To Michelle M., I just wanted to say “Wow”. You inspire as much as the Beggar. I wish I were as strong a person as you sound. Bless you (by any God you want). Laura

  115. Laura,
    I know what your going through is tough, but keep hope that one day enough will be enough for her. I too lost my kids due to my addiction, my sister was given full custody. once i had had enough (jails treatments courts mandated programs more jail) i found my way into the rooms of Narcotics Anonymous and put the work in, and i got results! my family had given up hope but remember its never to late, they can never be to far gone to save themself. I hope one day she will find her way as i did. the only thing srtonger then FEAR is HOPE

  116. I wouldn’t want you to change your wording. We should all speak what is true for us. I just wanted to provide a counterpoint. Though you may have discussed it in earlier posts, you weren’t clear this particular post that you are part a “Christ-centered” fellowship. It would be easy for somebody to mistake your post for being representative of the larger and more widespread 12-programs. Many people are put off even those, because of the “God” talk. I like your bread analogy. Some people can eat bread, but other people are allergic to gluten. The bread you are trying to share gets some of us pretty sick. People need to know that there is other food available to the hungry. But if bread works for you, have it, and offer it to everybody around you. But don’t forget that other food can feed them if they can’t eat bread 🙂

  117. I understand your point. I am not a doctor – or even a recovery ‘specialist’ – I can’t pretend to represent all 12-step groups at all, and really – I don’t represent CR. Just myself. Again, staying true to my original sentiment. I feel that strongly about it. Sobriety didn’t “sell me” on Jesus. Jesus 100% made my recovery possible. Such is the nature of the blogosphere. I would never seek to water down the message of – say – a Buddhist in recovery whose site I enjoyed reading, but whom I did not feel represented ME as a Christian. I learned in AA long ago, “take what you need, and leave the rest.” If folks are ‘put off’ by ‘God Talk’ I hope they will keep an open mind in remaining readers. If those readers deem it too offensive, they will read other blogs. I am one single “beggar” telling you where I found the bread of life. (PS – my personal suggestion is that perhaps it is not the Bread that made others sick, but other beggars who may not have loved others as the Baker intended.)

  118. Yes, she does. We all have a choice about the first one. After that, all bets are off. But we still have a choice about whether or not to surrender. We get to decide our own bottoms, unless we die in the process, and even then, it’s our choice to continue. Smart Recovery is good stuff. it’s not my fellowship. I found a way to make NA work for me, but part of being open-minded is to understand that different people can recover in different ways.

  119. It’s a shame this post has turned into a discussion about “God” and whether we need him to get sober. The point of your post was soooo beyond that and religion is always such a sensitive subject so I’m not surprised it’s come up, but I wish the comments were more centered on what you said. . . That we addicts are everyman and everywoman. And that addiction is a disease, not a necessarily a choice people make. I am so glad you wrote this and that I found it and was. I also sent the link to my family to help them better understand this thing we call “addiction”. It’s a powerful word with many negative feelings and thoughts attached to it and I feel that here, in your personal blog, you were able to share this with so many. It was so very thoughtful and well written. Thank you for this. It made my week!

  120. Thank you so much, Pippa. It is my honor to share it. There was a time when I could not imagine even surviving one day without drinking. I have been given such a gift in sobriety (and note: yes, I had to accept it and work to keep it) and such an honor to be able to share it. Thank you again 🙂

  121. I hear about so many people dying from OD and relapse is very sad…to admit I am powerless is to empower myself, to surrender is to win. basic 12 step concepts that work miracles, Smart is great recovery, AA is great recovery, it would be fun to adapt a little of each. I am a smart ass though, and love my AA, I say stuff like AA is self management and recovery, Or AA is the original CBT. I don’t know what was going on in Mr Hoffmans life but I only hope that if my head start thinking in relapse direction some miracle will guide me away.

  122. Good, Lori. Instead of hearing that God saved you many times but couldn’t help you stop drinking, I wish you would pass on your good fortune in SMART by starting a meeting so others could benefit. You see, AA got to be the size it is because of one alcoholic helping another and many passing on what they got by starting additional meetings. The result is thousands of meetings around the world. SMART has 190 meetings the “everyperson” could go to despite being over 25 years old. You could help others achieve the same goal by putting your gratitude forward. Wouldn’t that be great?

  123. I have always believed it to be an all encompassing word for a greater power. I know this is a Christian blog, but as a person working with the 12 Step Wellbirety progrm for Native Americans, there are many gods for those people. I also know people in AA that have used the program to gain sobriety. Try some of their meetings if you object to God. God is love, and i am grateful to have found it in AA.

  124. I’m sorry, but if you’re allergic to gluten, you can get out of the bakery. That’s just common sense. There are plenty of other bakeries that serve gluten-free bread. And for those of you NOT keen to pretentious analogies, this is a christian blog. Addicts who are offended by Jana’s views have a wide array of other blogs that will not offend them. She is not going to give up her writing style for you.

  125. Reblogged this on Imagination on the Move and commented:
    One in four children is affected by the family disease of addiction/alcoholism. We know these kids. They are in our classrooms. Their parents may pick them up “a little late” from child care. They may come to parent conferences with a faint whiff of last night’s binge on their breaths. They may be the ones who always forget to sign the field trip form. Or not. They may be the ones you’d never suspect, until you read in the paper that they just got their 4th DUI and are headed for jail.

    And:, to be honest….isn’t it hard not to judge them? To wonder how ANYONE could choose alcohol or drugs over their children? As the author of this blog says: “We love our children fiercely. Yes, we would change “For the sake of the children” if only we could.”

    Have a read and a think. We can only support the children we work with by supporting their families. And one of the best ways to support a family suffering from this wretched disease is to bring it out of the shadows, and out of the shame.

  126. I think Lori DOES understand. As true as the article for some, it casts rather a large net in its insistence on the way to sobriety. As an addictions professional I applaud any approach which leads people back to peace of mind be it AA, Smart Recovery, or any other path.

  127. Just a little short story about my “aha” moment with addiction. I was raised in an alcoholic family system, both the immediate and extended family. I somehow escaped that disease, and deserve no credit whatsoever for having escaped. Alcohol just doesn’t do in my brain what it does in the brain of an alcoholic.

    Around the age of twenty or so I asked my mother to stop talking to me about my father’s drinking, and suggested she go to Al-Anon. She went one time but didn’t like it because they wanted her to focus on herself. That was my first dress rehearsal “aha” about alcoholic family systems…tiny in comparison to The Big One that happened sixteen years later about alcoholics.

    It was a month or so after my Beloved was killed in a boating accident. Several years prior, another Beloved had been killed in a plane crash. This may sound strange, but the first time that tragedy occurred I was certain that I’d die from the pain, and for awhile it offered a kind of twisted comfort. But clearly I did not die, and so I knew the second time tragedy hit, I WOULD SURVIVE. The grief nearly buried me, and I was frantic, trying to think of a way to NUMB the pain. I thought “….if I could just get drunk…”

    And….I swear, like a thundering voice piercing through the fog of my pain I heard these words: “BUT THE ONLY WAY THAT WILL WORK IS IF YOU STAY DRUNK FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE.”

    And I don’t know if I “got it”, or even what the “it” was that happened, only that I felt a rush of compassion and love for every alcoholic and addict I had known, and would come to know in the future. It is now twenty eight years later. I still feel the same.

  128. Wow! Thank you ever so much for sharing your “aha” experience! Your compassion has most likely had more of an impact to those around you than you could possibly known. I promise that nobody would choose the addict experience – but you know that already. God bless you, and thank you again for taking the time to share your story.

  129. Absolutely stunning story, Renee!!! I’ve got 26 years sobriety, and a middle-aged daughter that has no idea what it is to be drunk. I’m blessed. She just doesn’t like the stuff… I do love your statement “…the only way it will work is if you stay drunk for the rest of your life.” Thanks for reminding me. I need to hear that every day.

  130. Thanks for reminding me of the power in our stories. It really WAS one of those rare, shape shifting, never the same again, moments.

  131. Yes we are “every man, and every woman” people who live ordinary lives, who go about the daily routine in recovery. The famous people who die of this disease have the light shown on them, gives us and the other everyday people who are not addicts to sometimes misunderstand how deadly insidious this disease is.

    Losing our own from recovery rooms because of relapse is a powerful reminder of what can and does happen. It is not because we/they did not wish to stay sober but because some part of them let go of sanity…

  132. This kind of judgmental thinking (& ignorance about the fact that addiction is in fact a disease) is certainly not going to encourage most alcoholics/addicts to become and or remain clean & sober. Furthermore, if it’s a choice, why did you wait so long to quit??

  133. Thanks for this article. Read some comments about AA and your programme, by you and others. I am in AA and strangely nothing bothers me as your words had love for addicts, told others to show love and compassion towards us. For recovery it matters that we believe in a power greater than ourself. Beyond name, shape and essence do we now believe is the key to stay recovered. All will chose their own concept but do we believe in that choice? I love christ, love budha and allah. All taught to love. But again its humans that carry the message and gets conveniently twisted.
    As long as we are in the pursuit of truth about who we are and try living unselfishly by giving the blessings we have to whome it really matters we stay recovered. Thats the feed for dopamine seeker. Unfortunately it stays short as we are humans and not god, so we need a togetherness and a way of living. We meet a lot of gods in life. And I see a god in all of those I look at. Thanks a lot for the article again. Keep writing.

  134. Thanks Jana for your great article. My story is all of the above. I had 14 years of sobriety. Had a surgery, learned to love painkillers, landed on life support overnight in 2009. I had what appeared to be all. We were losing things as my husband is a realtor, the economy was crashing, & I was in deep. I had NO clue the power this disease had until it swallowed me up. I tried for years to help my Sister, asked her why her Daughter was not enough. My Niece. I get it on a level I guess I’m glad to comprehend. My Niece, Nephew, spouse, friends, family were not enough for me at the end. I WANTED to stop, mostly for others at the time, I hate to hurt people. I could not. It’s all true, jail, institutionalized & death. & YES, I woke the sleeping giant, they warn us it’s growing even sober. Didn’t really buy that story until I collapsed. Things mean absolutely nothing. I don’t know why I survived when I have lost so many to this. Maybe just to help spare ONE person from a relapse. This time is so much harder. The first time, got it quick. Peace & Love & Prayers to all. & thanks again!

  135. Oh, Rachelle. I think you hit the nail on the head here. To help ONE person from a relapse is more than enough. And you are DOING it. I know you’ve probably heard the old saying “Do it Afraid.” You are DOING it, if even afraid (p.s. we are all afraid!) Kudos for you for hopping back up on this horse, lathered up as it might be. It is SO worth it. It is the only way, truly. God bless you on your journey, and keep on keeping on. This bastard disease isn’t happy until is steals every single thing from us. You are not allowing it to do so – you are alive to tell the tale and you are going onward and upward. In His love! – Jana

I'd love to hear what you have to say!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s