You Know You’ve Made it When Strangers Attack You!

Let me say this, the smallest state in our beautiful USA will never be visited by me. First it was some rambling personal attack left on Amazon by some professor, and when other people who had read the book responded to her, a colleague left his review. This guy, writes, and  I quote, ” I am sure that this post will encur the wrath of the friends of Michael club; I could care less however, as I have published more on this topic than just about anyone else alive.” Get spell check Mr. Expert, it’s ‘incur.’

Let me just say, Long Sleeved Summers is a memoir. It is my story, one that involves all the various aspects of my life, from innocent child, to pharmacist, to federal inmate #07142-068, to chef, and all the drug use in between. It is not a Dr. Drew self-help book, it most certainly is not going to be a Hallmark movie of the week. It uses the words “fuck” and heroin, it lets the reader inside my mind when all I wanted was to have the next shot of dope be my last.

The funny thing is, I am somewhat the expert myself, book educated from one of the top pharmacy schools in America, and incredibly street wise as well. My life is n0t covered in some academic text, and this attitude of health professionals somehow being different, and that I should have thought differently because of my education is a load of horse shit. In fact, at one moment behind the counter, I could look down my nose at Patient X, coming in again for the 3rd time that week, telling me her cat ate all her Xanax, with a note from the vet as confirmation, and judge her an out of control junky before telling my intern to watch the counter while I went back to shoot up.

My education separated me in some way, I was not like the patients because I knew better. That this arrogance is finding its way onto the review section is really getting ridiculous. It’s not like I titled the book: LSS – Cure Your Addiction People! Like those douche bags in Malibu claim. If you haven’t walked in the shoes of an addict, you do not know what drives a person to lie, cheat and steal his/her way to the next fix. Sure, you may know an opiate addict’s brain creates a hell of a lot of new opiate receptors, that the limbic center of an addict’s brain is altered to such a degree that the pleasure from drugs becomes as vital to the body as food, water and air.

So fucking what? It goes far beyond a brain disease, it is a disease characterized by exactly what LSS covers…feelings of worthlessness, complete lack of self-esteem and selfishness. It is a disconnect between knowing what is pure, what one feels in his/her heart, versus that all-consuming thought process one’s mind continually tortures the user with. So Mr. Expert, I welcome you to give me a phone call, just leave me a comment on how to reach you, and I will happily talk to you. As for your colleague, I have no time for someone so short-sighted and jaded as to wage personal attacks on my clean time. There is no magic number. In fact, my sponsor, who had 5 years clean, just went back out a few weeks ago.

With addiction rising so rampantly, thanks in part to the gross over-prescribing of opiate pain medications, I would have to say the ‘experts’ are failing miserably. As always, my hair, blood and piss are available for your testing. I will happily provide you with the names of complete strangers, both addicts and family members that love an addict, that have told me my book has truly helped them. I do not say that out of pride, and I am immensely humbled that my story has had some sort of impact on their lives. I thank God that my story has been able to offer even the slightest bit of hope and provide even an inkling of understanding.

That certain academics want to ignore the problem, or suggest that a “health professional” have a different take on addiction is foolish. One of the main points I wanted to raise was my profession does not change the fact that I am a fallible human being, no better or worse than a lawyer, an accountant, a police man or a garbage man. You can know all the facts and still be entirely ignorant on a subject because you have never spent anytime inside the skin of someone who really suffers. I wouldn’t wish that on anyone, nor would I expect anyone who is an “expert” in the field to be such a judgmental prick.

That the conclusions in the book are to love oneself, to forgive all the really crappy things done, and to accept responsibility that while the ‘disease’ may have driven a person to rob their grandma, it is still the person who turned to a drug in order to cope with whatever problem was too big at that moment in time to deal with. If everyone was okay in their own skin, addiction and plastic surgery, all of it wouldn’t matter. Insecurities drive a host of problems, and that simple message, covered in the book, eludes you, saddens me.

Again, hate the book, but  do not try to say it fails at something it never claimed to be. Addiction is a chronic, “incurable” disease. My past has made it so that if I take opiates for even a few days, I will become sick since my brain has rewired itself in such a manner. I know this. With 6 herniated discs in my back, I deal with pain daily, sometimes mild, sometimes pretty bad. I know the consequences of giving in and taking opiates to get through one of those bad days. I can’t do it, and dealing with a few hours of agony, with ibuprofen and ice are a much better way than another deconstruction of the new life  I am building for myself.

I am not out to save the world, never claimed to be, but I will put my well-rounded education up against anyone who has just learned from books and conducted studies. I don’t live in the sheltered world of academia, I have seen just about everything. I have had to drag friends into showers and hit them with icy water, I have given a shot of Narcan before, and have been saved numerous times myself. I am not afraid to put my life out there, and admit I have done many a terrible act. I ruined the most important thing I ever had, my marriage. The lessons I learned saved my life, and that learning was not from a book, but a blessing from above.

Maybe that is what is upsetting, that all the knowledge in the world doesn’t help an addict through the darkest times. I can assure you I didn’t pull out a text-book when I wanted to just have God take me off this planet. In the end, what saved me was the same thing we have deep inside of us, a love for self, a desire to be a better human being and knowing that an addict is robbing myself of what I could be. I was not created to be a statistic, buried before my time. I am one of the supremely lucky ones, and I am proud to share my story with any who wants to read it.

“We should take care not to make the intellect our god; it has, of course, powerful muscles, but no personality.”  ~Albert Einstein

“Common sense is not so common.”   ~Voltaire

Peace- MFJ


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