My wife and I usually watch the 6 o’clock news together every evening and when it ends, another “news” program comes on that I have no interest in. It, like a lot of other television, radio and internet programming, concerns itself more with things I feel are gossip. A frequent topic I am bombarded with is celebrities and their use of, consequences from and recovery in relationship to drugs. I mention this because as I wrote the last blog about Phillip Seymour Hoffman, it occurred to me that we always hear about celebrities getting arrested, being seen drunk and high, being found dead of overdose, even that they have admitted themselves to rehab, but almost never that they have completed their rehabilitation and have been successfully sober and/or clean for any length of time. We only see their downfall, their worst moments and we don’t usually know about the weeks, months, years they spend in recovery. We don’t hear when they return to their homes and families and resume their successful careers. There are a few celebrities I’d like to mention that have overcome their struggles with substances. These two men are brilliant on the stage and screen, true superstars, talented and dynamic and you may already be familiar with at least some of the fall-out from their addictions.
Robin Williams, famous for his comedic antics in Mork & Mindy, Good Morning Vietnam, Mrs. Doubtfire, RV, Night at the Museum, and a very long list of other works, is an example. Robin Williams became addicted to cocaine and alcohol early in his career and he went to rehab during the early 1980’s after the death of his friend, John Belushi, to an overdose. Rehab, and the death of his friend proved to be the combination that motivated him seek and achieve sobriety. He was clean and sober for over 20 years until he found himself drinking again in 2006 and returned to rehab proactively. This is a great success story for a number of reasons, but to mention a few, Williams was clean and sober for a very long time. He returned to treatment by his own choice, before his addiction destroyed his life, family and career. He successfully recognized he was in trouble and returned for the help he knew he needed. He recognized an old pattern and he changed it, made a different choice this is the result of the teaching and support he gained in rehab. He has since returned to making great shows and movies for us all to enjoy.
Another fantastic actor and musician whose addiction has been played out in clear view of the world is Robert Downey Jr. Most recently recognized for his work in Gothika, Iron Man, Sherlock Holmes and The Avengers, Downey struggled with addiction to heroin, cocaine and other substances from 1996 until 2001. He had many arrests and was sentenced to 3 years in California prison. He literally hit his own “rock bottom” and had every step of it announced to the world as he went. His career plummeted, directors being unable to get him insured/bonded due to his very public downward spiral. He attended Rehabilitation and slowly began to rebuild his career in 2001. He has been drug free since 2003.
While these two are very famous men, the men served at Trinity Life-Ministry have leading roles in their own stories. You will find that addiction does not seem to care if you are a superstar or a no-name. It doesn’t care if you are rich or poor, college-educated or a drop-out. It doesn’t care who you are, what you do, what dreams you have for your life or even what relationships and opportunities you destroy as a result of your addiction. It is all-consuming and all to often ends badly for everyone involved. While we have not watched the men at Trinity being handcuffed and taken away on the 6 o’clock news and while we have not personally followed the downward spirals of their addictions on television and gossip papers, their stories are just as epic. There potential for greatness in whatever comes next for them is also just as epic. Unlike Robin Williams and Robert Downey Junior, the men here at Trinity are not at a distance. Someday soon, they will graduate from our program and go into our communities. They will be productive members of society, becoming employed, engaging in and repairing relationships and some even completing the legal consequences for the bad choices made while in the throes of their addictions. They will be interacting with you potentially as you go about your community. You won’t have to turn on your television because “they” are on of “us.” You might see them at the grocery store, the bank, the doctor’s office, in the pew at your church or just walking down the sidewalk. You have the ability to help make a difference in their lives right now as well as be of support to them in the community later. You can respond to this post and offer them inspiration. You can be of support to Trinity if you feel led to do so through donations of money or items to our thrift stores. You can pray for their success every day. Amidst the sadness and the tragedy that we are immersed in when we connect with almost any form of media, please realize that you rarely hear the whole and especially not the end end of addiction stories. The men at Trinity Life Ministry have stories worth hearing, endings yet to be written and together, we can impact the outcome of their time, efforts and God’s providence to be a part of the miracle of the transformations that happen here every day.
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