I Never Speculated I’d Live Past 35. Today, I Made 36.

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Before arrived here our final destination- the Democratic National Convention- I had to make a stop in Houston, Texas. There, my good friend, Greg, is embed. Greg, like so many others, died last year from a drug overdose. He was only 24 years old. Since noticing my own footpath in recovery 18 few months ago, for the first time the epidemic I’d been hearing so much about really hit home. It’s easy for us to listen the statistics and forget that this constitutes someone’s sibling, best friend, parent, or partner…or, far too often, “their childrens” . The sixth installment of my #AddictionXAmerica passage to the DNC chronicles many faces and articulations that have been hit hard by the craving epidemic. Their express deserve to be heard. Their powerful testimonies prove that this crisis has no borderlines. Hopefully, their floors will help to open a few sentiments so that we can continue an honest, impactful conversation that will result us to a situate which is something we no longer need to sorrow these senseless demises. We must overcome the stigma and prejudice associated with this public health crisis, roll up our sleeves, and get to work saving lives .

Today is my birthday. Today, I rotated 36. For over a decade, I’d been telling beings- friends and family members- that I’d be luck if I saw it past 35. I woke up this morning meditating what if I hadn’t been one of the luck ones. Until lately, and after losing so many close friends to overdoses this past year, that reputed never truly crossed my mind.

I’d never thought of my sisters and mom having to inter me. Or friends of quarry having to say their final goodbyes after simply investing 35 times on this planet. What about all of the aspirations and reveries I had for their own families, going back to academy, or building my own business in the not-for-profit community? All croaked. It all could have been extended. But for the prayer of something I may never understand, I was given a second opportunity at life. And today, I understand the dominance of recovery.

Visiting Texas on my course to the DNC, I invested a lot of duration talking with your best friend Greg’s family and friends. And, boy, there were so many of them. They all had tales about Greg and his droll foibles, his larger-than-life nerve, and his incessant empathy for others. With reality setting in that he was actually extended, it pained me deeply to think of all the grace this macrocosm would miss because of his untimely extinction due to addiction. He had such knacks to volunteer us all and the world would have been a better place because of his deep passion and pity for others.

But, Greg was one of us. He was an addict. And he was ashamed about his reappearance of use last year. So he disguises it from us and by the time the majority of members of us knew he was addicted once again, it was too late. His repeat of use was alone compounded by the fact that the medical professional he was under the care of for a recent ankle hurt obviously didn’t understand that you should never prescribe a recuperating heroin addict a high dosage of opioids for an extended period of time. Never ! Regrettably, this is what happened to Greg. It was only a few short months ago that I was sitting outside my house and received the news that Greg was dead. He had descended back into his addiction to heroin and, this time, it killed him.

Some 22 million people suffer from craving in this country. Another 23 million live in long-term recovery. That amounts to 45 million households- roughly one in every three. And bearing in mind the fact that addiction dramatically affects the lives of everyone in the household/ pedigree, that means that more than 90 million Americans are touched by this health and human rights crisis. Those are staggering amounts. Unfortunately, Greg fell into another statistic: the fact that someone- often a young adult- dies from booze or other narcotics every four minutes in America.

Greg’s and my other friends’ deaths cannot be in vain. We are at such a unique instant in America. People afflicted, and family members and sidekicks affected, are all standing up. Many of them have begun to speak out loudly and say “not one more.” We saw this begin at the Unite to Face Addiction rally on the National Mall back in October, continue along New Hampshire during the presidential primary, and today a action is germinating from coast-to-coast. We will be successful. Our captains will listen and we will comprise them accountable.

We surely have begun to see the tide turn these past 12 months, but America will be electing a new President and a brand-new Congress in exactly under 90 days. Ten-point designs and town halls on addiction from nominees have filled our bulletin feeds for months. In a few short weeks it will be up to us. We’ll election … and then what? Well, for me and billions of others, it surely doesn’t be brought to an end. In information, it won’t stop until the day comes that addiction, including accidental overdoses, is greater stealing our youth , weeping categories apart, maiming our economy , and predominating the news each and every day . It’s finally time to address the addiction crisis in our country.

So, yes, today is my birthday. But it’s just not the same this year. For the first time ever I’ve come to realize that the imprint people leave on our nerves is immeasurable. And, in the case of Greg and all of the other friends I misplaced this year, indispensable … and everlasting.

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