Author: Justin Mckibben
This past Tuesday, Academy Award-winning actor, screenwriter and producer Ben Affleck made a powerful and inspiring announcement to his fans and friends via social media. Since then the internet has lit up with articles and insights on how this public admission could be seen as a heroic moment to so many people all over the country.
Ben Affleck has the honor of being the new face of Bruce Wayne, bringing the Batman to life in the most recent installments to DC’s feature films. So he is no stranger to the role of a hero with a dark past.
Being open and honest with the world Affleck publicized he had completed treatment for alcoholism, and so many in the recovery community and advocates for addiction have found it as a beacon… or “BAT SIGNAL” if you will… (I will)… for all those struggling to overcome the stigma and see they are not alone.
In an emotionally-charged note to his fans, Ben posted on Facebook stating:
“I have completed treatment for alcohol addiction; something I’ve dealt with in the past and will continue to confront. I want to live life to the fullest and be the best father I can be. I want my kids to know there is no shame in getting help when you need it, and to be a source of strength for anyone out there who needs help but is afraid to take the first step. I’m lucky to have the love of my family and friends, including my co-parent, Jen, who has supported me and cared for our kids as I’ve done the work I set out to do. This was the first of many steps being taken towards a positive recovery.”
This is also not the first time Affleck has done battle with alcoholism. The 44-year-old actor has faced his own alcohol addiction in the past, while his childhood was also impacted by the influence of alcoholism on his father.
Alcoholism in the Family
In 2012 Ben Affleck did an interview with Barbra Walters discussing his parent’s divorce when he was 12 years old. During the interview Affleck stated:
“[My father] was an alcoholic… I did know that as a child. He drank a lot. My father was a — what did they call him — a real alcoholic. He, you know, drank all day, drank every day, and to his credit, he got sober ultimately,”
“He’s been sober for several decades, which I think is pretty impressive.”
At this time he credited his brother and his closest friends, including Matt Damon, of helping him through a difficult childhood. After Ben Affleck earned his place in Hollywood for his work with Matt Damon in Good Will Hunting in 1997, he gave up drinking at 24-years-old.
Ben Affleck’s First Time in Rehab
In July of 2001, Ben Affleck completed a 30-day residential rehabilitation program for alcohol abuse. But this experience didn’t seem to convince Affleck at the time he was in danger of real alcoholism. In a 2012 statement, he had said,
“I went to rehab for being 29 and partying too much and not having a lot of boundaries and to clear my head and try to get some idea of who I wanted to be.”
Not saying it wasn’t an important experience, but this statement seems to lean closer to the ‘I’m not as bad as some people’ line.
In 2004, Ben Affleck married Jennifer Garner, his co-star from another comic hero film Daredevil. Sources at the time said Affleck’s new married put a halt on all the hard partying. Batfleck began to settle down and start up a family. The two were later blessed with 3 children: Violet, age 11, Seraphina, age 8, and Sam, age 5. Affleck says,
“I think becoming a father makes you see the world differently and it’s good.”
However, Jennifer and Ben did eventually split in 2015. Still, early reports are indicating Jennifer is an important part of Ben’s current path to sobriety.
While Ben Affleck has been more private about his time in rehab this time around, speculation began when Batfleck was spotted with woman while out and about in Los Angeles that a source later told ET was actually a sober coach Ben had been working with named Elizabeth Weaver.
Other sources have indicated to ET reporters that while Affleck no longer works with Weaver, he was supported by another sober companion while showing up to the 2017 Oscars to support his brother Casey Affleck who won Best Actor.
Looking forward a bit, it’s interesting that the next Batman solo movie starring Ben Affleck is also set to star Joe Manganiello as the infamous villain Deathstroke. Joe Manganiello has also had his struggles with alcohol. In a past interview Manganiello stated,
“My life was ruined. I was homeless, careless and broke with no career.”
The former “Magic Mike” and “True Blood” star has been sober over twelve years! In a 2015 interview Joe Manganiello said his sobriety was “very close to [his] heart.” With him starring as a rival assassin and all out bad mofo in the next Batman against Affleck, one has to wonder if a sober bro-mance might blossom between the two Hollywood action heroes.
Heroes and Alcoholism
One inspiring aspect of all this is that it not only gives us a reason to see past the stigma of alcoholism and addiction, but it also makes those who suffer feel more connected to the people who they may look up to; more connected to their heroes.
In fact, I remember watching Ben Affleck’s Bruce Wayne in the recent Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice movie. In one scene Bruce Wayne wakes up, fighting back his nightmares, and reaches to a nightstand cluttered by wine bottles to get a bottle of pills. Moments later his butler Alfred Pennyworth, played by the amazing Jeremy Iron, even comments on hoping:
“- the next generation of Waynes won’t inherit an empty wine cellar.”
I related in a big way to the idea even Batman is drinking and popping pills to escape. As a recovering alcoholic and lifelong Batman buff, I felt connected to a feeling I believe is unspoken but relevant to the character, the actor, and the reality of addiction.
It’s almost ironic to me, looking back. To see a well-known and highly celebrated actor like Ben Affleck play my lifelong hero, and in the midst of critical divisiveness over his recent projects still have the strength to speak out about his hardship with alcoholism and the love of his family getting him through, it’s an interesting sense of empathy. Again, when his post says,
“… I want my kids to know there is no shame in getting help when you need it, and to be a source of strength for anyone out there who needs help but is afraid to take the first step…”
That is a strong statement. Batfleck has put himself out there with solidarity and compassion for those who are struggling with alcoholism and addiction. He may not be the first, but he is still a pretty prominent voice in Hollywood today, and that means something. He wants his own kids, and everyone else, to know they should never be afraid to ask for help.
A big piece of this we can all appreciate is that when successful professionals, artists or family-oriented individuals take a public approach to acknowledging addiction, it gives us all another perspective. Those on the outside looking in can see it in the men and women they admire. Their peers can be inspired to take a similar stand on self-improvement and raising awareness. Batman himself has said,
“I have one power. I never give up.”
Bruce Wayne is a man who dedicated himself to being a symbol. Ben Affleck is a man who has struggles and is choosing to have a voice. If more of us chose to have a voice, to take a stance and not give up, we could help others still who don’t know there is a choice.
It can be surprising to see so many successful people are recovering alcoholics and addicts. Sometimes we don’t realize our favorite artists and actors have dealt with something so difficult to get through. The more heroes we have every day that step up and share their message of hope, the more hope we may have that people seek the help they desperately need. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free now.
CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135
Author: Justin Mckibben
Many months back, when President Trump was still on the campaign trail, he was asked about the opioid epidemic in America during a Q&A in Ohio. He said the solution was about cutting it off at the source through the southern border. President Trump continues this narrative in a more recent solo press conference, suggesting the United States is becoming a “drug infested nation,” and he added,
“Drugs are becoming cheaper than candy bars.”
So what is President Trump’s plan to fight addiction, and will it help addicts?
President Trump on Cartels
By now we all know President Trump believes there is a direct correlation between the drug epidemic in America and what he calls an epidemic of illegal immigration. In the past he has pointed to the infamous border wall as the answer to cutting off the heroin trade into America, which he seems to believe is the primary source of the problem. During his press conference he adds,
“We’ve ordered the Department of Homeland Security and Justice to coordinate on a plan to destroy criminal cartels coming into the United States with drugs,”
President Trump went on to say,
“We have begun a nationwide effort to remove criminal aliens, gang members, drug dealers and others who pose a threat to public safety.”
To be fair, we must acknowledge the relevance of cartels in the drug trade. Since the 90’s some statistics show that the primary supplier of heroin to North America is pretty consistently Latin America and Mexico.
However, to believe that Mexican cartels are the only element of the opioid epidemic is a mistake we can’t afford to make. And blaming an entire country for drug dealers and gangs is a bit out of step with the history of drugs and gang violence in America. While it cannot be denied that Mexican cartels have a role in all this, solving the addiction problem is a lot bigger than that. Besides the fact that heroin is not only from Mexico, heroin is definitely not the only problem.
President Trump on China
For example, what do you know about fentanyl? That is, the incredibly dangerous opiate that has created such a overwhelming panic as a result of steep spikes in overdoses and deaths. Did you know it originates from Chinese suppliers?
According to some lobbyists, there are some clues that could imply President Trump plans to prosecute drug traffickers and close shipping loopholes that include drugs coming in from China and other areas.
So far, however, there isn’t much mention out there about these ideas. It seems the majority of the statements being made openly are singling out Mexico. It might be time to talk more on these other areas they plan on addressing. There is some value to stopping these dangerous drugs from getting here, but we also have plenty of problems here already.
President Trump on Opioid Epidemic
President Trump did release details during his campaign about his intentions for taking on the opioid epidemic, stating he plans to:
- Increase Naloxone access- the opiate overdose medication
- Encourage state and local governments to provide treatment options
- Speed FDA approval for abuse-deterrent painkillers
Yet some people are concerned because there hasn’t been much more talk about this since late in the campaign trail. President Trump has referenced a move to expand access to drug courts and raise the cap on how many patients that doctors can prescribe medication-assisted treatments. These may be very effective strategies for providing multiple opportunities for exposing addicts to recovery. But we aren’t hearing enough about those either. When the subject comes up, we should hope for more accurate information to know if addicts will get this help, instead of hearing about immigration.
Again, many still want the President to talk more openly about the contribution made by Big Pharma and prescription drugs to the issue, specifically concerning the opiate epidemic. We can only blame so much of our problems on outside influence. We have to hold our own drug companies accountable.
President Trump and Big Pharma
Trump did say throughout his campaign he would be fighting the Big Pharma companies in order to get rid of outrageous price-gouging on medications. He made a statement at one point that,
“Pharma, pharma has a lot of lobbies and a lot of lobbyists and a lot of power and there’s very little bidding on drugs,”
“We’re the largest buyer of drugs in the world and yet we don’t bid properly and we’re going to start bidding and we’re going to save billions of dollars.”
This much isn’t off base. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, drug companies and their industry allies spent more than $186 million lobbying for their interests in a year, and $1.12 billion since 2012.
Yet, the Republican Party did a great deal in 2003 under President George W. Bush to prevent federal government from interfering in negotiations between drug companies and pharmacies that participate in taxpayer-funded Medicare Plan D prescription drug benefits.
Hopefully, having a Republican Congress that isn’t constantly at odds with their President will help things move along easier; especially concerning healthcare reforms. So beyond making drugs cheaper, the question becomes what can we do about preventing dangerous and addictive drugs from getting even more out of control.
ACA and CARA
With healthcare reform, many addiction recovery advocates insist that the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA) should be a priority. Many say the CARA is the most significant federal legislation pertaining to addiction in years. Still, it does not include a specific allowance of funding for the programs it has created.
Once CARA is funded, more programs will be put in place to help fight addiction. Without the funds it is a Cadillac with no engine or wheels.
Then there is the major point President Trump ran on; repealing the Affordable Care Act (ACA). This action could eliminate coverage for many Americans in recovery who had previously been uninsured. Specifically, if the government repeals the ACA without a plan to replace it or to maintain coverage for those depending on it. If President Trump and the GOP come up with a program to replace it, we may still avoid this tragedy. Still, as it stands, the idea makes plenty of people nervous.
For instance, Medicaid, the federal-state insurance for low-income people, payed for about $60 billion worth of mental health services in 2014. That assistance is now expected to shrink as a result of healthcare reforms under President Trump.
After Republicans have pledged to make some major cuts in federal spending, there is still hope out there that agencies like the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) would not see their funding severed. This would potentially be another devastating blow to the efforts already in place to battle addiction in America. Will President Trump defend these programs to help addicts?
What Will Help?
Some of the ideas this administration mentions do have some hope behind them. My opinion, we might want to hear more about the expansion of treatment options and access to life-saving resources. The strong focus on border control and President Trump’s cries for “law and order” and aggressive investigations sound extremely reminiscent of the War on Drugs that failed so many families and people suffering.
As the former drug czar Michael Botticelli stated,
“Any drug policy that’s going to be effective has got to be based on science and research,”
So President Trump has his work cut out for him, but some still say we need to see more being done with healthcare and providing resources. More advocates want to hear plans on healing people; on how we plan to save lives. Assure people by taking real action to show they will not be without insurance or treatment.
So this does not mean to say the President’s plans are not good. Essentially, we just want to hear more about them besides borders. If his plans do involve expanding current resources, and if the ACA is effectively replaced; if we see adequate funding appropriated for the CARA and if we make this about more than just immigrants and law enforcement, then the plan could make a difference. So far only time will tell.
Drug abuse and addiction is a devastating and deadly disease, and providing effective and compassionate treatment makes a lifelong difference. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, think about who you want to be working with to find a real solution. Please call toll-free now.
CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135
(This content is being used for illustrative purposes only; any person depicted in the content is a model)
Author: Shernide Delva
Rapper Gucci Mane recently opened up about his struggles with mental health. He discussed his past drug use and decision to get sober in a new interview with ESPN’s Highly Confidential. The 36-year-old also talked about his experience developing PTSD after he was robbed by assailants in 2005.
The rapper, born Radric Davis, said his involvement in the 2005 murder of Henry Lee Clark led to him developing PTSD. Gucci Mane maintains that he did shoot the man, but says it was pure self-defense. The murder charges against him were eventually dropped. The stress of that incident along with the pressure of his music career exacerbated his mental health issues, he admits.
Guilty On Federal Gun Possession Charge
Although Gucci was found not guilty regarding the 2005 murder case, eventually he would find himself behind bars. Eight years later, Gucci was caught with possession of an illegal fire arm.
In December 2013, Gucci faced a possibility of 20 years behind bars. He was charged with two counts of possessing a firearm as a felon. He opened up about his anxiety and paranoia that manifested during this time.
“I felt like I was gonna kill somebody, for trying to kill me,” said Gucci. “I was never afraid. I just kinda, in my mind I felt like someone was going to try to hurt me, try to rob me, do something to force my hand and defend myself and hurt them.”
Prior to entering jail, Gucci says he had a daily routine of using a variety of substances including alcohol and lean (a mixture of soda and codeine/promethazine-based cough syrup). He ended up going through withdrawals behind bars which Gucci admits made him feel “like death.” However, his motivation to stay sober finally set in during his sentence.
“When I was facing 20, 30 years and it was almost on the table, it kind of got worked out where I could only do three years. I felt like I could manage it. I could still have a career when I got out and not lose my whole life. It was like, ‘Let me fix my life,” he said.
“I had time to sit back and evaluate everything, and also dry out from the drugs … I tried to make the time work for me the best I could,” he went on.
“I didn’t want to live the rest of my life in prison. So I was like, one thing that I need to do is be totally sober. I need to have complete clarity. I need to have razor sharp focus on everything I do, every day from when I wake up to when I go to sleep. After you start doing it for like a year, then it turns to two years. Once I got out and start doing it, it makes me a better person, a better artist, it makes me all the way stronger.”
Maintaining His Commitment To Sobriety
In May, after serving three years, Gucci was released from prison. After his sentence, Gucci dropped his album Everybody Looking. More importantly, Gucci continued to stay sober, something he says is an “empowering” feat.
“It’s an extravagant lifestyle I live. And to me it’s kinda being even more cocky. I love to tell somebody, ‘Hey listen, I don’t do drugs. I’m sorry baby, but I don’t want anything to drink. I’ll take a water,’” he said last fall. “I’m proud of doing it. I like doing it. I hope people follow my example.”
Were you aware of Gucci Mane’s drug past? Drug culture is rampant among celebrity culture, and unfortunately the entertainment industry tends to glorify drug use. Time and time again, we see celebrities cycle in and out of treatment. In the past year, we have loss some of our most treasured celebrities to drug-related incidents.
With drug overdoses at an all-time high, should public figures feel responsible? Regardless, the message is clear at this point. The dangers of drugs and alcohol are not anything to glorify. The amount of drug overdoses continues to peak each year. If you are struggling, understand that your addiction does not have to be a component of your life anymore. Please call now. Do not wait.
CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135
Author: Shernide Delva
Professional wrestling legend and Olympic Gold medalist Kurt Angle recently opened up to several media outlets about his past addiction to painkillers. Angle was open and honest on the topic, and now has over three years of sobriety. At one point, Angle admits he took up to 65 Vicodin a day.
Angle was introduced to painkillers in 2003 after sustaining a neck injury in World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE). He had to conceal his injury to continue working, so he opted for painkillers to alleviate the pain.
“I remember taking that first pill, and I was like, ‘well, this makes me feel really good. I feel like I can take on the world and I can’t feel my neck.’ And the affect it had on me gave me more energy than I normally had, so I liked that feeling. So I tried that. One turned to two. Two turned to four. Four turned to eight. And before I knew it, I was out of control. I was hiding it from WWE. I know there were times I was slurring. Vince, Vince McMahon, was like, ‘are you alright?’ I was like, ‘oh yeah, I’m fine.’ I really shrugged it off. And then, I made him think that he was going crazy.”
To conceal the magnitude of his addiction, Angle would hold off on taking narcotic pain medication until the evening. During the night, he was taking painkillers and drinking alcohol. He also was abusing the highly addictive anti-anxiety medication Xanax during this period.
“I started drinking with my meds. And then I started manipulating my meds. I would save all of them until the evening, and drink it with alcohol. And it got me in a lot of trouble — four DUIs in five years.”
After a while, Kurt Angle realized he had a problem. He attempted to quit on his own, but the period of abstinence did not stick. Although he was able to withdraw from opioids on his own, eventually the desire to use caught up with him.
Looking back, Angle admits: “When you’re that deep into that stuff – you can’t do it on your own. “
Angle credits time off and the WWE-funded rehabilitation program he underwent with helping him address the problem and start on the path of sobriety. Going to treatment allowed him to have three years sobriety to date.
Angle thanks WWE for giving him that opportunity. Now, Angle enjoys a more flexible schedule. He recently left TNA Impact Wrestling after working with the company for ten years. He now enjoys his lighter schedule and making appearances now and then.
Angle’s last DUI stint was in 2013. He went for legal reasons but also to get to the root of the problem. Now sober, Angle says he no longer has the temptation to use.
“I haven’t had any triggers,” he said. “I think it has to do with that I don’t ever want to have that feeling again. I was merciless to that drug. I was doing stupid stuff. I was desperate. I was spending a lot of money for the medication. It took control of my life. I didn’t have anything else to think about than how I was gonna get that drug the next time I could get it. It was ruining my life. The worst time of my whole entire life was those three years where I was really, really deep into it.”
Addiction is a disease that can take over your entire life. Like many addicts, it took a few tries before Angle learned the tools he needed to achieve sobriety. If you fall a few times, remember it is not too late to get back up.
Going back to your addiction is not the answer. Recovery is. Take it one day at a time. We are here to guide you through the process. Call toll-free today.
CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135
Author: Justin Mckibben
Early yesterday afternoon I caught a shared video link on my Facebook feed to the new Macklemore video. It was the first I had heard of it, and the person sharing it seemed pretty impressed. The title for the video- “Drug Dealer”– is already enticing. Once you see it, it’s hard not to get pulled into the cold, dark reality of it. I shared it, and watched it a couple times by the end of the day.
Honestly, if you haven’t seen it by now I would be absolutely shocked.
Later, I noticed on my feed it had been shared by 20+ people I knew, and the comments were praising this harsh and devastating depiction of withdrawal and addiction more and more. The spark was lit and the story has since taken off. So what was it about the Macklemore “Drug Dealer” music video that made its message so strong?
Describing “Drug Dealer” Music Video
This latest piece of work directed by Jason Koenig tells a haunting and dramatic story from the open shot. Throughout the “Drug Dealer” music video the theme is consistently set in intensity, and the darkness of the battle with addiction is complimented in the visual contrast.
The first clip begins with Macklemore himself curled up in a naked ball in a shower. It skips back and forth between shots of him twisting on an empty mattress in a dirty room decorated with drugs, and close up shots of Macklemore’s sweaty, swollen face. The close-ups are portraits of pain as the artist passionately raps about opioid addiction, eyes dark and teary that are almost entirely fixed on the camera.
Breaking Down “Drug Dealer” Music Video Lyrics
The words to the song are powerful, direct and damning to the Pharmaceutical Industry and the crooked doctors that many say have made the determining contribution to the opiate epidemic in America. Macklemore makes some raw and heartbreaking revelations in his lyrics.
Calling out Big Pharma
One line implies that billionaire drug companies pay off crooks in congress, but executives never see prison time for their crimes. Probably referencing numerous stories of drug companies being sued for falsely marketing drugs as not addictive, and hiding research information.
Singer Ariana Deboo is featured on the chorus, and Deboo also appears in the “Drug Dealer” music video, drowning in a sea of red and white pills as she voices her contribution. Deboo’s vocals are a evocative melody of words that point a blatant finger at the Pharmaceutical Industry and the crooked doctors in America. Her words ring out-
“My drug dealer was a doctor, doctor
Had the plug from Big Pharma, Pharma
He said that he would heal me, heal me
But he only gave me problems, problems
My drug dealer was a doctor, doctor
Had the plug from Big Pharma, Pharma
I think he trying to kill me, kill me
He tried to kill me for a dollar, dollar.”
Neither Macklemore or Deboo seem to be pulling any punches in this one. The scary part is these words are so firmly based in truth. In fact, over time controversy has continued to boil as reports shed light on doctors getting kick-backs for prescribing drugs from the companies that produce them.
In another few lines he makes mention of several other artists that have died due to drugs, especially prescription drugs, including:
These are just a handful of the celebrities in the past few years who have suffered or died in relation to prescription drug abuse.
Calling out the music industry
In one line Macklemore says “we dancing to a song about a face gone numb” pointing out how despite the fact that more people are dying from drug overdoses than ever before, we have a society that generates a music industry where artists glorify drug abuse. Even though some of these same artists don’t use drugs, they just say what sells. Macklemore seems to be calling out the icons of our time to stand for something instead of just trying to sell anything they can.
In the “Drug Dealer” music video Macklemore also challenges the fact that since the opiate epidemic has made it into the suburbs from the city it is suddenly everyone’s problem. Many have argued that the epidemic wasn’t such a public health concern until it was no longer only hurting low-income inner-city communities.
This same segment of the song also stands to shake the addiction stigma that it only happens in certain areas with certain groups.
Reality of addiction and recovery
A great moment is toward the end of the song when the momentum reaches a fever-pitch. The distortion of the vocals and the shouting, sweat-smeared face in the camera says enough, but the reality of what Macklemore is sharing about his own desperation is gripping.
Then, he says the serenity prayer.
This prayer is one well known to pretty much anyone in the recovery community. It is recited in many 12 Step groups, depending on the group’s format and function. Most recovering addicts and alcoholics know it by heart. The video lightens up to a scene of Macklemore sitting in a 12 Step meeting, surrounded by people sharing. He gets a hug from another member, and the credits roll.
A Man with a Message
The “Drug Dealer” music video is part of the release of the first new single from Macklemore & Ryan Lewis since earlier this year when they released their sophomore album, This Unruly Mess I’ve Made. Macklemore is a man with a message who has been open about his own struggle with addiction for some time. He celebrated his sobriety and discussed his addiction in his music before. He even opened up after a brief relapse a while back.
Macklemore recently discussed America’s opioid crisis with President Barack Obama in the MTV documentary Prescription for Change and has continued to try and be a voice shouting for reform and revolutionary action against the opiate epidemic and the overdose outbreak destroying millions of lives.
There are so many reasons this song hits so hard on the opioid crisis in our country. For anyone who has experienced it first hand, whether their own addiction or that of a loved one, the fight is very graphic and very real. Macklemore’s new “Drug Dealer” music video looks you in the eyes with the intensity of that fight. It is hard to watch, but it’s something too many people have to live every day.
As part of most recovery fellowships, we often share our stories. As part of the battle against the shady practices of Big Pharma, we should call politicians to action. And as part of overcoming the opiate epidemic, we raise awareness. Macklemore’s new “Drug Dealer” music video takes a stab at all of these. Along with such action, effective treatment is also critical to change. If you or someone you love is struggling, please reach out and get help. Call toll-free now. We want to help. You are not alone.
CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135