While I was drinking my morning coffee and catching up on the news this weekend, I came across two very connected, yet totally different stories. As I read them both, I recognized the striking similarities. Here I saw two entirely different people, from two totally different walks of life, walk the same path and potentially experience the same outcome.
The first story I read detailed the toxicology report of late adult film star Amber Rayne. I previously wrote about Amber in my piece “The Life Expectancy of a Porn Star.” On April 2, when the news broke, there were different stories about how she was found that day. One story said she died in her sleep, while another story said she stood up and passed out. It wasn’t until now that the facts presented themselves and an accidental cocaine overdose was deemed the official cause of death.
Then just a couple of minutes later I found myself reading an interview with Paul Manziel, the father of troubled NFL football player Johnny Manziel. His dad was painfully transparent regarding his concerns about the potential tragedies that his family, specifically his son, could be facing in the near future. Reading Paul Manziel publicly call his son a druggie and admit that the only way to save his son’s life would be for Johnny to go to jail, broke my heart.
Already mourning Amber’s death, her parents are now confronted with the facts, and I can only imagine it opens a deeper wound. And Johnny Manziel’s family struggles with the inevitable, knowing that he will have to partake in some serious course correction to avoid the same outcome that so unceremoniously took Amber’s life.
The thoughts that race through one’s mind while watching a loved one spiral out of control with reckless abandon is crippling. It’s one of the most heartbreaking experiences that someone can go through. There’s an endless wave of scenarios that plague loved one’s minds while the person they’re so desperate to help chooses to engage in harmful behavior.
A couple of years ago I was faced with that harsh reality when I learned that one of my friends was struggling with addiction. After getting brought up to speed about everything that had transpired from mutual friends, I knew that it was my time to step up. I was far enough removed from the situation to act like I was unaware of his issue, so, I decided to take him on vacation to Hawaii.
I knew it was best to take him out of his element and get him into a different routine. I got him up early every morning for yoga and I made sure we were active enough on the trip so he wouldn’t fall into his bad habits. On the last day of the trip, I went in on him. I expressed all that I had seen in the industry and connected those experiences to the potentially tragic ways his life could play out. It was brutal and, for a short period of time, he disliked me for my honesty, but that’s how it goes when you force an addict to face reality. After the trip, I kept tabs though our mutual friends and surprisingly, I was hearing all the right things. I was happy to hear that I had a positive impact on his life and that he had decided to make crucial changes in his life. The first time he reached out to me was the day he ran his first marathon. He sent a picture from the finish line saying “I couldn’t have done this without you!” He had been clean, and still is, since our trip. He now loves yoga, runs marathons, and his only addiction is the life of fitness that I introduced him to on our vacation in Hawaii.
To this day and probably forever, this will be the greatest accomplishment of my life. If you have someone in your life that is struggling with some form of addiction, don’t give up. Pull together, gather your family and friends, and establish a game plan. You never know what you can do for someone unless you try. Once you do, I can promise you, there will never be a bigger high than saving a life.
Photo Credit: Roy Handy