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Wednesday, February 05, 2014

Why I Don't Do Drugs (except maybe caffeine)

This week in the Whatever Wednesday column, I've drawn the PROFESSOR PLUM card.  So, that means that I will be doing a Thursday Diary entry...only on a Wednesday.

And, for a special treat, this will be a diary entry that will actually read like a diary entry.  After doing video blogs for nearly three months, I decided that I would try my hand at a hand-typed blog...just so I haven't lost my touch.

As far as the subject matter...well...let's just say that it was inspired by recent events.

February 5, 2014

Okay, so I'm sitting at home a couple of days ago incredibly sick with a gastrointestinal bug, and I pretty much spent the better part of 48 hours in bed downing liberal amounts of flat Canada Dry in hopes that I'll be able to keep it down somehow without feeling the need to hurl.  Unfortunately, during the height of the flu bug (which for me was Super Bowl Sunday), this was not the case.

But when I was feeling a little bit better, I decided that I would spend an entire day watching a movie marathon on both my DVD Player and my laptop computer inside my bedroom.  Hey, I suppose there could be worse ways to spend a whole day, right?

Well, as it so happens, one of the movies that I decided to watch that day was the 1998 film, "Patch Adams", which was based off a true story.

Now, as some people may already know, the film starred Robin Williams as the title character, and the entire film is a retelling of the real Patch Adams' story, which depicts how he became a doctor despite being admitted without an undergraduate degree, and how he ended up using his sense of humour to become a very respected physician.

Admittedly, I didn't mind the film all that much, even though critics tore it to shreds.  It was quite a nice film, and I thought the casting was quite good.  But I also remember that this film was one of the first ones that I recall seeing the acting talents of Philip Seymour Hoffman.  And Hoffman, who more or less played the foil to Robin Williams' "Patch Adams" character was very good in the role, and I remember when I first watched him on "Patch Adams" when I first viewed the movie in high school that I would be seeing a lot more of him on the big screen in the years to come.

Boy was I right, too!  I estimate that he appeared in more than a dozen films over his career from "Almost Famous" to the successful "Hunger Games" films.  And, he also won an Academy Award for his work in "Capote", making him definite A-list material.

That's why it almost seems unbelievable that this wonderful, gifted actor is now dead, passed away at just 46 years old on February 2, 2014 from a heroin overdose.  A genuine talent in Hollywood gone forever because of drugs.

It seems to be a waste, doesn't it?

And yet, Philip Seymour Hoffman was hardly the first person to die from a drug overdose.  It was nearly two years ago that pop singer Whitney Houston was found dead in her hotel room after a drug overdose.  Elvis Presley was also found dead of a drug overdose.  And, can you believe it's been over twenty years since River Phoenix died because of drug abuse?  My, how time flies.

Even entire bands like the Red Hot Chili Peppers had their own struggles with dealing with drugs and maintaining their sobriety.  In 1992, Anthony Kiedis even wrote a song about the struggle, and that song ended up becoming a sort of signature hit for them.

And what I find really disturbing is the amount of coverage that the media designates towards these people's personal struggles, and their attempt (sometimes numerous attempts) to become sober again.  I mean, one thing that I have always found fascinating in a disturbing way is just how shows like, say "Entertainment Tonight" actually launch FBI-like investigations into how some of the more popular celebrities who have died actually died, and how they go and interview stars as they are promoting events at the red carpet how they feel about them now that they're gone.  But do Nancy O'Dell, Rocsi Diaz, or Rob Marciano actually care about these people while they were nearing rock bottom?  Of course not!  If anything, they were actually using the people's pain to try and get high ratings for their programs.  And, as far as I'm concerned, that's deplorable, and one of the main reasons why I can't stand these shows.

(BTW, I actually had to google the names of the current hosts of Entertainment Tonight, as the last time I watched the show, Mary Hart was still on it.)

And, don't even get me started on Dr. Drew's "Celebrity Rehab".  There is no excuse that can possibly justify having cameras in a rehabilitation center while people are trying to understand why they are addicts, and why they are trying to get clean.  I mean, yes, one argument is that by watching these people detox, it might deter some people from even doing drugs again - which granted I suppose is a good point.  But there's also the part of me that finds it incredibly intrusive, and absolutely disgusting that these people are put on display for entertainment purposes while they are at the most critical point of their lives.  To me, that's not entertainment.

And, it appears as though the celebrities who have appeared on that show have not really had that much success.  In the case of people like Mindy McCready, Mike Starr, and a couple of others, they have actually either died of drug use or ended up committing suicide after the taping of the shows.  Bad form, Dr. Drew.

But you know, seeing all of these once promising stars lives be stolen away by drugs such as heroin, cocaine, crystal meth, or even alcohol gives me the very reason why I will never use drugs myself.

I mean, sure, I'm not rich and/or famous.  I'm a thirtysomething who works retail and writes on the side.  But do you think that my creativity and writing skills would improve by using drugs?  Hell no.

(And, by drugs, I mean the heavy ones.  I admit that I do use caffeine in some beverages, but I'm trying to cut down on that.)

I've never done crack.  I have never done crystal meth.  I've never done heroin.  I've never even smoked pot (mostly because the smell of pot makes me want to vomit...and even so, I've never had the desire to).  I've never even smoked a cigarette.

I have had alcohol, but the last time I remember getting a buzz from it, I was in my early 20s...and let's get real.  Most of us in our early 20s experimented with alcohol.  But I very rarely drink it now because I don't really need it.  

Heck, even when I was recovering from my gall bladder surgery, I only used painkillers the one day because the pain post-surgery was far easier to handle than the pain pre-surgery.

Now, this doesn't mean that I am completely sheltered over the dangers of drug abuse.  I have seen some people get so involved in it that they have completely changed, and became so unbearable to be around.  Sadly, I have a few members of my extended family that battled alcoholism (and because I respect my family's privacy, I won't name names).  In some cases, they got better and sober.  But in other cases, the addiction sent them to an early grave, completely and totally isolated from their spouses, their children, their siblings, and even their parents.

They died completely alone because they prioritized the drugs above everything else.  And, to me that is absolutely heartbreaking, and a fate that I don't ever want to see happen to me at all.

I guess in some ways, the avoidance of temptation can be just as hard as battling your way out of an addiction.  Though I can't recall any instance in which drugs have tempted me, I have seen people really struggle with their dependencies.  And, I think the most frustrating part about that is that no matter how good your intentions are, and no matter how many interventions a person's family and friends stage in hopes of their loved one receiving treatment for addiction, in the end, it has to be up to the person to want to get help, and realize that there is more to live for than drugs.

And sadly, as in the case with Philip Seymour Hoffman and others like him, all the money and fame in the world couldn't save his life.

And, I think that's one of the final reasons why I avoid drugs.  Drugs have the tendency to kill you.  And, once you're dead, you can't get a second chance.

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