A break from financial markets commentary
The article below has little to do (directly) with financial markets and economics, and a lot to do with what really matters in life. It has been written by Renee Hall (email@example.com), following the sad and untimely death of former Friend's star Matthew Perry. In fact, although this might be deemed "off-piste" to some of my followers, rest assured that the issue of addiction and overall mental health has a huge bearing on the workplace.
Matthew Perry's passing has deeply affected many people who came to know and love his endearing character on "Friends." He was a lovable character, and you were always rooting for him in the sitcom and in life. If you have never witnessed a loved one struggle with addiction, count yourself lucky beyond belief. I feel for all those who have lost loved ones to this disease. Addiction is not like other diseases, where medications and surgeries may help in a person’s recovery and sustain his or her life. Addiction is vastly more complicated, as it depends on the afflicted to surrender to a higher power to release the idea of being able to control their affliction.
The active addictive mind is powerful and set out for self-destruction at any cost. Add to this that one’s body physically needs the very thing that is causing them harm to alleviate painful withdrawal symptoms. Many if not all people suffering from addiction turn to drugs and alcohol to soothe their nervous system and escape trauma and loneliness. Drugs were once the answer to ease pain and suffering, but now they only serve to further anxiety and push addicts into the abyss. It's a cycle we see time and time again: the first drink or drug temporarily provides relief from anxiety and pain. It helps the person cope. Finding the root causes of an individual’s internal struggles can take years of therapy and self-awareness that those with addictive behaviour patterns may not be afforded.
Early intervention is crucial but challenging because the afflicted have found an answer to feeling normal and more at ease. The destruction can begin slowly as they navigate life and continue to function under the radar of those surrounding them. The disease can lurk there for years until it tackles a person to the ground and begins to suffocate the life out of him or her. Addiction is a demon. I have seen it, and it completely possesses the afflicted and makes them act in unfathomable ways to get what their body needs to maintain relief and numbness. The very thing the addict has found that allows them to feel connected – or at ease – sucks them into a black hole of loneliness and isolation from family and friends.
You hear this countless times in Matthew Perry's book and interviews. He was at the top of his game and had what outsiders would see as 'everything.' However, he was stuck in a vortex of isolation and obsessive thoughts around drugs and alcohol. It overtakes your mind and becomes all you can think about. The obsessive compulsiveness is relentless. Your first thoughts when you wake are all around the drug. You no longer prioritise basic needs, responsibilities, or relationships. Your sole priority is fuelling your addiction. Addiction is selfishness at the highest order. It robs you of life, love and happiness. The control it has over you is relentless, and it does not discriminate amongst its victims.
There is so much stigma around addiction. Most addicts are riddled with guilt and shame. Through education, I now see addicts in a different light. I have tremendous compassion and admiration for them. Yes, I said admiration. I admire the strength it takes to surrender to this disease and to let go and reach out for help. And it takes even more strength to hold on to each day once you have accepted sobriety.
We lose more and more people every day to addiction, particularly in many cities across the United States. There are countless cases of addiction in every corner of the US, and for that matter, in the world, although it is increasingly visible on the streets of major cities like Los Angeles, New York City, and San Francisco.. Addiction is a crisis, overwhelming society and claiming more and more victims each day. Addiction can find you no matter your sex, race or socioeconomic status. It comes for you when you are most vulnerable and offers an escape from pain, but ultimately results in the contrary, subjecting its victims to greater and greater pain and suffering. Drugs and alcohol often serve to fill a void. The irony is that the void becomes bigger and the isolation from friends and family is exacerbated as the addictive mind progresses.
What are the answers, and how can we begin to tackle this epidemic of loss and destruction? I wish I knew, but I do know that holding pharmaceutical companies and doctors accountable is a start, as well as educating people on addiction. We need to stop looking the other way and do what we can individually. If you see someone on the streets, buy them a coffee or sandwich. Hold someone's hand if they are going through withdrawals. Take someone you know to AA, NA, Al-Anon. These organizations can be a real turning point for some. Having others around you who know the demons you are fighting daily can be a source of much-needed connection.
Check in on loved ones struggling; let them know you are on their side and you want to see them rise up. We need affordable care, and who better to fund these types of places than the very people who helped create this epidemic. So much money has been made off the suffering of others, and doctors have pushed medication onto vulnerable people. There should be accountability. I feel pharmaceutical companies should fund rehabs and care facilities for people seeking help. We need compassion for those afflicted with addiction. Compassion and knowledge can go a long way in helping addicts.
Take a minute today and send someone you know struggling with addiction or in recovery a message of love and support. Encourage them to reach out and encourage them to keep fighting and live life one day at a time. Every message could potentially change or save a life. For those in recovery and who are working hard daily for sobriety, I applaud you and admire your strength and courage, for you are the people who know best how to help others and save other similar souls from further destruction.
It is beyond sad when someone's life is taken away by addiction. Rest in peace, Matthew Perry, and all those who have lost their lives to this disease. With the notoriety of Matthew Perry, may his legacy encourage others to seek help. Thank you for your incredible talent in making people laugh. I sincerely hope your soul is at peace now.
Should you wish to reach out directly to the author, Renee can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Comments directly on the blog post are also welcome.