This is not me preaching. This is me using whatever voice I might have to reach as many people as I possibly can.
My birthday was last week & I was absolutely floored by the amount of thoughtful messages I received wishing me a happy birthday. Thank you, a million times, thank you.
I flew to Pittsburgh to spend the weekend with my family. All the joy & sweetness that should go along with spending your special day with the people that made you the person that you’ve become was completely diminished by the sudden death of my cousin, Justin. Justin was a great athlete, friend, and an all-around kind hearted person. He had struggled for years with heroin addiction and after a lethal dose this past Friday, he was found dead: laying face-down with a needle in his arm. I share with you these ugly details because that is the graphic & brutal reality of what this drug does; it kills you. It slowly steals your personality, charm, and looks. It puts an unbearable strain on the people that you love the most, and in the end, it leaves you on your face. You’ll be dead and your family and the people that you loved most will be left reeling for the rest of their lives.
I lost my mother, for a time, to heroin. I lost my only brother to the drug. I’ve lost countless friends as well, but I have been fortunate enough to see some turn it around; to make the decision to live.
It’s a disease? Fuck you. It’s a decision. Tell the 10 year old kid born with a rare & terminal form of cancer that he’s on the level with a person that knowingly & selfishly injects a lethal substance into their arm.
My point is this: life can be very challenging and often seem unfair. Many people turn to alcohol, cigarettes, and/or drugs in an attempt to soften the pain; I myself am not exempt from some of these vices, but you have to want to live, to get better. If you can’t see the light for yourself, please think of your family, of your friends. You may not place much value on your own life right now, but know that they do, and that’s who you are hurting when you make the decision to punish yourself - to knowingly & willfully inject something into your arm that each time you do, could very well kill you instantly.
None of what I’m saying is groundbreaking; it is the truth. With each birthday brings a new phase of life, and at 32 I’ve never felt more alive or more grateful for my health, my family, my friends. It is very difficult to watch a loved one battle with addiction and it is almost easier to ignore it; to hope or to expect that they’ll correct the problem on their own. Few will, most will not. We’re all so caught up in our own lives and our plans that most of us do not want to get our hands dirty…to go into the darkness with that shell of a person you love, to fight like hell to bring them back. It is a battle we’re losing every day and I certainly do not have the answer, but fight. If you have someone in your life losing the fight do what you must do, no matter how unpleasant or inconvenient it might be. If you yourself are struggling with this awful addiction: look at your family. Think about all that they’ve sacrificed for you. Get your head right, if only for a moment, and be fully aware of how you’re hurting them, and that your death is imminent. I am so sick of sitting in those sad rooms with broken-hearted people, looking at old photos, unsure of what to say.
It’s happening right now.
It gets better.