Social Status Shouldn’t Matter


Okay so this is more of a rant than anything. Food for thought if you will. One of my FB friends sent me a link about Chaka Khan; the famous singer from the 80’s has canceled her concert to go to rehab. With the link, was a message to me that said the following:

Scary-we just lost Prince to an accidental overdose-it would hurt far too much to lose another legend to the same thing. AJ Menendez any thoughts? Am I too much in my feelings? Or am I dead on to care so much about another addict in crisis, even one I will never meet?

I informed her that it’s never wrong to care about someone whether they’ve actually met them or not and I firmly believe that. I also firmly believe that no one is exempt from the deadly disease, regardless of their social status. But it got the wheels in my brain turning and since I work up close and person with a great many suffering from the disease, it kinda ruffled my feathers.

What you ask? The fact that as a society, very seldom do we make a big deal over someone dying of an overdose unless they are in the public eye. A famous person isn’t any less of an alcoholic or an addict just because they are famous and their addictions aren’t any more important than your average “Street drunk or junkie” However comma…I have seen with my own eyes individuals who are serious about getting help get kicked out of rehabs when their money ran out. I’ve seen people go into detox because they’ve reached that point of desperation, and after a few days of detoxing, they are turned back out on the streets because they can’t afford to pay for the residential part of the recovery process.

I’ve seen these every day people treated like they were less than worthy and made to feel like they were the scum of the earth because of their addictions. They are judged by their addictions, and not as the human beings that they are. In the almost 6 years that I’ve been sober, I’ve been to at least one or two funerals a year that are a direct result of this very deadly disease and no one bats an eye. I’ve even had one of my own sponcees hang himself five days before Christmas leaving behind 6 kids because he felt there was no help available to him. He chose to die because he didn’t want to use anymore and couldn’t get the help he needed to stop.

I am well aware that there are a great many individuals who aren’t ready to get clean and sober. That’s the same with ANY human being regardless of where they are in a social status situation. At the same time, there are a great many who DO desire to get and stay clean and sober, who truly want to rebuild their lives without alcohol or drugs that get turned away because they just simply don’t have the money. Their very lives depend on what’s in their bank accounts and to me, that’s sad. I dont’ have all the answers, I wish I did. I also understand that the rehabs can’t run successfully without charging something. I’m not completely blind to the situation. But at the same time, I feel that there are so many who die from this disease because they are flat out unable to get the help that they so desperately want and need.

This is not a disease that can be conquered alone and some need more help than others. They have to be detoxed, they need impatient programs rather than outpatient . They need more monitoring than some and must be under a professionals supervision before they can even begin the long recovery process. Yet they are given a polite, “We’re sorry, we can’t help you at this time” kinda speech and sent on their way. I’ve seen it happen on more than one occasion. THAT’S what hurts my heart the most. Don’t get me wrong, when anyone dies of an overdose (Famous or not) it disturbs me and reminds me of how very deadly this disease is. That goes without saying. But it hurts my heart even more when those who are famous die, it’s global news and when those who would be deemed by society’s standards a regular “street drunk or junkie” don’t get a second thought when they die. People just automatically pass judgment and assume that’s the life they chose for themselves.

In terms of medical care, I feel everyone should be treated equally regardless of social standing or the balance in their bank accounts. Not just with addiction but health care in general. We’re all human beings and deserve to be treated with the same respect and care. This may just be my opinion, but it’s something I feel strongly about. I wish I could find a way to make this change, but I haven’t a clue and until something changes, people are going to continue to die from this very slow and painful disease.

I’m one person who can only do so much. I’ve come to accept that fact, but that doesn’t mean I have to like it. I can only hope and pray that changes are made, and until they do, I will do my very best to do my part and make the common sufferer know that they ARE worth it and not to give up. I’m an alcoholic and an addict and people loved me even when I couldn’t love myself. The least I can do for the gift of a second chance at life, is to pay it forward and give it to someone who is suffering from the same disease.

Thank you Miranda for ruffling my feathers…..I needed it.

AJ Menendez, Master Male Illusionist

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