Yesterday Carrie Fisher’s autopsy revealed a series of drugs from cocaine to heroin along with methadone- “the cure” for heroin addiction. Fisher was a woman who had everything from wealth to fame and beauty, yet she couldn’t overcome her drug addiction. Her life and her death are a testament to the hook of addiction. Yesterday, the face of addiction hit closer to home where one friend- a week out of in-patient rehab was stopped and charged with a DUI and taken to the hospital. Another friend 6 months into recovery allowed former friends to derail her plans, leaving her stressed and vulnerable. My heart ached for these beautiful, talented women who have become ravaged by drugs and alcohol.
One of these women 5’9- model beautiful tests high-end ski equipment, the other is a medical doctor. One is Caucasian the other African American and both struggle with the “stinking thinking” of addiction and both returned to the environment from which their addictions spiraled out of control. In a perfect world there would have been transitional housing, wrap around therapy, medical treatment, medication and financial support, but the world is far from perfect.
When, I talk about recovery the number one thing recovering addicts can do to maintain their sobriety is remove themselves from the people and places where and with whom their addiction spiraled. This is hard to do especially if you are married or you are a parent or a minor. If someone you live with or with whom you are related to by blood or marriage, that person must also seek support and education in order to support their loved one’s recovery. Often times well meaning spouses, boyfriends, parents and children who are unaware of the psychological as well as physical aspects of addiction think “Why don’t you just stop using!” It’s simply not that easy- witness Carrie Fisher.
Drug addiction therapists now believe that to cure addiction one must heal the user from his or her adverse childhood experiences. Unless, this is done the rate of recidivism is high at about 70%. Experts say that the higher the number of adverse childhood experiences the more difficult it is for a person to cure thier addiction. About 64% of Americans have at least one adverse childhood experience which could include sexual or physical or emotional abuse, living with a parent with a mental illness, an incarcerated parent, poverty or divorce. People who have 4 or more of these adverse childhood experiences are 1200% more likely to abuse substances or commit suicide are 470% to suffer from mental illness,
Addiction is a complex subject encompassing both psychological and physical components. Put in a simple way, addiction is using a substance or behavior for reward or relief to the detriment to the addict’s entire life- social, psychological, spiritual, physical, financial and relationships.
Today this country is facing an addiction crisis which has caught the attention of the media because the new addicts are young white people ages 18-25 who earn less than 20 thousand dollars a year and white suburban women. At this time when so many are dying and suffering from addiction our Republican Congress is seeking to remove the coverage for mental health and substance abuse- one of the hallmarks of Obamacare. Most of this world’s tragedies stem from two things mental illness and substance abuse. If this Republican Congress wants to make America great again let’s provide the necessary services to those suffereing from addiction and mental illness which often times go hand in hand.
Many of us were fans of Carrie Fisher. I was not a Carrie Fisher or Star Wars fan where Fisher became a household name, but she is my contemporary. I would not trade my freedom from substance abuse for anything she might have had. None of what Fisher had eased her demons. I hope that her passing and it’s association with mental illness and addiction will allow people to see how addiction and mental illness can touch the brightest and best of America.
Photos by dmitryzhkov <a