Personal Responsibility

16 Feb

Elvis, Winehouse, and now Whitney…

What did they all have in common? Substance Dependence.

Elvis died in 77′. When he died, I was only 11. At the time, I didn’t understand why the King of Rock n’ Roll died. Winehouse died last year at the tender age of 27. She had won five grammys for her sophomore album and was destined for a bright future. And now, Whitney, the Queen of Pop in the 80’s and 90’s is dead at the age of 48.

When I visited Graceland in 04′, all I could think of is when I was reviewing Elvis’ life, was how could someone as big as him check out of this life at the age of 42? Back in 77′, substance dependence wasn’t such a known quality as it is today.I Iam not excusing Elvis at all, but Winehouse and Whitney (and the people around them) had no excuse. There is just too much information, education, treatment and 12-step programs out there today to prevent the personal tragedies of this magnitude to happen.

Just think for a moment of all the time and effort “healthy” parents put into bringing up their children in the best and safest ways possible. They make sure they get the best education, have the best friends, eat right, play right, etc…And then when the kids turn 18, they are turned loose into this “mixed-up” society. (Writer’s note, just because your kid turns 18 doesn’t mean you are done being a parent, being a parent is a life-time responsibility).

Being a “true” friend (how many do you really have? Are you sure?) means being there through thick and thin and not ever giving up on your friend for any reason. If you have a friend who has substance dependency (simple definition: loss of control of a substance as well as being obsessed and compulsive in one’s use), insist that they get help and more help and more help (if that is what it takes). Every person is unique in what type of help they need to arrest (not cure) their substance dependency.

Besides the personal responsibility of the parents and friends, each individual with substance dependency is responsible to stop using his or her favorite substance(s) and for the maintenance of their recovery. For myself, my substance was the legal (at age 21) and socially acceptable alcohol. My alcohol use was “out of control” for about 10 years. No one tried to get me to stop drinking. I made the decision to stop drinking. And I did in 95′ . Do you think I wanted to stop? No. When you stop drinking alcohol, you immediately become an outsider in this society. Over the years I drank, I thought I was an insider. Do you think it is easy to stop? No, after all of those years of numbing my real feelings and escaping reality (at least for a few hours). But I came to realize that I had to stop or I would die a premature death like Elvis, Amy and Whitney have now done.

Besides making the decision to stop drinking, I have had the make the decision every day for the last 17 years to stay in recovery from substance dependence. Do you think it has been easy? No. But the payoffs have been tremendous and the biggest payoff is that I am still alive today to write this post to tell you it can be done but “you have to go to any length” to stay clean and sober. And guess what that means?You can’t marry a fellow substance dependent person. You can’t hang out with the friends you used to hang out with (unless they are true friends and guess what you find out fast who they are). You can’t hang out in the same places you used to hang out. It is up to you and only you to stop the cycle of substance dependence. If I can help you stop, just email me at and I will be very grateful to help you to change your life and stay alive one more day.



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