How Many Opioid Overdoses Are Suicides?

Yves here. See also this related Kaiser Health News story: .

It takes a lot of courage for an addict to recover and stay clean. And it is sadly not news that drug addiction and high levels of prescription drug use are signs that something is deeply broken in our society. There are always some people afflicted with deep personal pain but our system is doing a very good job of generating unnecessary pain and desperation.

By Martha Bebinger of WBUR. Originally published at

Mady Ohlman was 22 on the evening some years ago when she stood in a friend’s bathroom looking down at the sink.

“I had set up a bunch of needles filled with heroin because I wanted to just do them back-to-back-to-back,” Ohlman recalled. She doesn’t remember how many she injected before collapsing, or how long she lay drugged-out on the floor.

“But I remember being pissed because I could still get up, you know?”

She wanted to be dead, she said, glancing down, a wisp of straight brown hair slipping from behind an ear across her thin face.

At that point, said Ohlman, she’d been addicted to opioids — controlled by the drugs — for more than three years.

“And doing all these things you don’t want to do that are horrible — you know, selling my body, stealing from my mom, sleeping in my car,” Ohlman said. “How could I not be suicidal?”

For this young woman, whose weight had dropped to about 90 pounds, who was shooting heroin just to avoid feeling violently ill, suicide seemed a painless way out.

“You realize getting clean would be a lot of work,” Ohlman said, her voice rising. “And you realize dying would be a lot less painful. You also feel like you’ll be doing everyone else a favor if you die.”

Ohlman, who has now been sober for more than four years, said many drug users hit the same point, when the disease and the pursuit of illegal drugs crushes their will to live. Ohlman is among at least  who wrestle with depression, anxiety or another mental health issue that increases the risk of suicide. 

Measuring Suicide Among Patients Addicted To Opioids

Massachusetts, where Ohlman lives, began formally  in May 2017 that some opioid overdose deaths are suicides. The state confirmed only about 2 percent of all overdose deaths as suicides, but l, head of the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, said it’s difficult to determine a person’s true intent.

“For one thing, medical examiners use different criteria for whether suicide was involved or not,” Bharel said, and the “tremendous amount of stigma surrounding both overdose deaths and suicide sometimes makes it extremely challenging to piece everything together and figure out unintentional and intentional.”

Research on drug addiction and suicide suggests much higher numbers.

“[Based on the literature that’s available], it looks like it’s anywhere between 25 and 45 percent of deaths by overdose that may be actual suicides,” said , immediate past president of the American Psychiatric Association.

Oquendo pointed to  of overdoses from prescription opioids that found nearly 54 percent were unintentional. The rest were either suicide attempts or undetermined.

Several large studies show an increased risk of suicide among drug users addicted to opioids, especially women. In  of about 5 million veterans, women were eight times as likely as others to be at risk for suicide, while men faced a twofold risk.

The opioid epidemic is occurring at the same time suicides have , but Oquendo said few doctors look for a connection.

“They are not monitoring it,” said Oquendo, who chairs the department of psychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania. “They are probably not assessing it in the kinds of depths they would need to prevent some of the deaths.”

That’s starting to change. A few hospitals in Boston, for example, aim to ask every patient admitted about substance use, as well as about whether they’ve considered hurting themselves.

“No one has answered the chicken and egg [problem],” said , a family physician who runs the Lynn Community Health Center in Lynn, Mass. Is it that patients “have mental health issues that lead to addiction, or did a life of addiction then trigger mental health problems?”

With so little data to go on, “it’s so important to provide treatment that covers all those bases,” Mahaniah said.

‘Deaths Of Despair’

When doctors do look deeper into the reasons patients addicted to opioids become suicidal, some economists predict they’ll find deep reservoirs of depression and pain.

In a seminal paper  in 2015, Princeton economists  and  tracked falling marriage rates, the loss of stable middle-class jobs and rising rates of self-reported pain. The authors say opioid overdoses, suicides and diseases related to alcoholism are all often “deaths of despair.”

“We think of opioids as something that’s thrown petrol on the flames and made things infinitely worse,” Deaton said, “but the underlying deep malaise would be there even without the opioids.”

Many economists agree on remedies for that deep malaise. Harvard economics professor r said solutions include a good education, a steady job that pays a decent wage, secure housing, food and health care.

“And also thinking about a sense of purpose in life,” Cutler said. “That is, even if one is doing well financially, is there a sense that one is contributing in a meaningful way?”

Tackling Despair In The Addiction Community

“I know firsthand the sense of hopelessness that people can feel in the throes of addiction,” said , executive director of the Grayken Center for Addiction at Boston Medical Center; he is in recovery for an addiction to alcohol.

Botticelli said recovery programs must help patients come out of isolation and create or recreate bonds with family and friends.

“The vast majority of people I know who are in recovery often talk about this profound sense of re-establishing — and sometimes establishing for the first time — a connection to a much larger community,” Botticelli said.

Ohlman said she isn’t sure why her attempted suicide, with multiple injections of heroin, didn’t work.

“I just got really lucky,” Ohlman said. “I don’t know how.”

A big part of her recovery strategy involves building a supportive community, she said.

“Meetings; 12-step; sponsorship and networking; being involved with people doing what I’m doing,” said Ohlman, ticking through a list of her priorities.

There’s a fatal overdose at least once a week within her Cape Cod community, she said. Some are accidental, others not. Ohlman said she’s convinced that telling her story, of losing and then finding hope, will help bring those numbers down.

The  is 800-273-8255.

This story is part of a partnership that includes , and Kaiser Health News.

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47 comments

  1. Laughingsong

    “And you realize dying would be a lot less painful. You also feel like you’ll be doing everyone else a favor if you die.”

    Been there. And that thought becomes everything, including the very best excuse to keep using and double down.

    I was lucky to have a loving family. One day I was closer than ever to the edge, writing insults to myself on my arm with a rusty one-edged razor blade; then I embarked on a fantasy of my funeral, trying to imagine relief and even contentment of my family, especially my mom and grandma. But the facts got in the way; try as I might, I couldn’t imagine them being happy. That was the first time (unfortunately not the last) I tried to get clean. But I never got so close to suicide again.

    As for prevention, sure, the medical community is the first line of defense. But if we truly want to prevent, then the despair itself must be addressed. A political problem.

    1. perpetualWAR

      Glad you’re still with us. I contemplated suicide, not related to opioids, it’s a terrible place. And the thing that kept me here: the people who would be devastated by my decision. Thank God for loving families!

      Yes, the despair is a political problem. Been trying to get the corrupt electeds to admit that. They won’t. They just keep doing the banksters work.

  2. Chauncey Gardiner

    Thank you for this, Laughingsong. We just lost a former neighbor; a young, divorced mother of two, who died on the street of a major California city last month. Her stepfather had paid for her to go through rehab, but she evidently never made it. An incredibly sad story that leaves one at a loss for words.

  3. Wukchumni

    Suicides are one thing, but it’d be instrumental to compare opioid deaths before and after the introduction of fentanyl as a chaser (about 2013 was when I first heard of it), to really gauge things, and it isn’t as if all the heroin dealers decided en masse that it would be a good time to kill off their clientele, which makes no sense whatsoever.

    There were 25,000 opioid deaths in 2013, compared to 65,000 last year…

    “Fentanyl-related deaths increased by 540 percent across the United States since 2015. This accounts for almost “all the increase in drug overdose deaths from 2015 to 2016″, according to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.” (Wiki)

    As an aside, went to the post office last week and asked what heroin stamps they had, and bought a sheet of Jimi Hendrix & Janis Joplin commemorative ones.

    1. Roger Bigod

      Fentanyl has been around for a while. I heard about it back in the 1980s when there was gossip that a local academic anesthesiologist was handing it out as a treat for his golf foursome. AFAIK there were no bad consequences. This is part of a long tradition of medical bad judgment. There’s the notorious example of demerol, touted in the 50’s and 60’s as a nonaddictive opiate. By the time this was debunked, dozens of docs and nurses had been addicted. Then there’s William Halsted, arguably the most distinguished surgeon in medical history, who was addicted to both morphine and cocaine throughout a long productive career.

      The typical story is that opiates and stimulants are used first as occasional indulgences, then more regularly (e.g. weekends). Many people stop at that point. Some go on to addiction. One example is a survey of cocaine use (1990’s, so before crack) which showed that only 7% of people who started went all the way to addiction. About 20% of US military in Nam used opiates but most stopped when they returned to jobs, friends, girls and marriages.

      One perspective is that harmful drug use is easy to identify, but treating the underlying situation (“despair” in the current formulation) is much more difficult. There are some arguments against the criminal justice system as the main answer. Sending the anesthesiologist and his golf buddies to prison doesn’t sound like an optimal solution.

  4. Eugene

    Across all walks of life in the U.S.A. and the world. It’s time everyone asked just who is responsible, i.e. who turned Afghanistan into another Narco state? Supplying 90+ % of the worlds opium, as well as being a money pit for the past 17 + years with no end in sight.

  5. Ed

    Show of hands, please…: How many readers here know of someone who is/was addicted to an opiate?

    How many know two such people? Three? More?

    How many are familiar with the medical practices of pain clinics, and their proprietors?

    1. Anonbecauseofthesubject

      Have watched my son brought back from the dead in the ER. One more minute and the doc said he would have been brain dead.

    2. rjs

      i know of two such deaths in an extended in-law family…

      the NIH says: Over the past 15 years, the total suicide rate has increased 24% from 10.5 to 13.0 per 100,000

      so if we’re undercounting suicide by drugs deaths, the overall suicide rate of increase would be that much higher

    3. Jen

      My nephew made the transition from prescription pain killers to heroin (lousy home life – his dad is rich, and flat out evil). He got caught dealing to support his habit, went to jail, and got into a good diversion program. He’s stayed clean.

      He married a lovely woman 2 years ago. His wife’s family is everything his own was not. Their baby girl will be four months old next week.

    4. Arizona Slim

      One of my cousins was a heroin user. Don’t know if he got to the addicted stage — my aunt wouldn’t say.

    5. ambrit

      We had a very funny sad friend I met through work who had a ‘jones’ for opiates. Finally, at forty something his heart gave out. I still think about him sometimes. He would have fit right in the Commenteriat.
      I’m wondering about all those who have died from opportunistic infections and diseases facilitated by opioid usage.
      As for pain clinics, I was on that ‘pill mill’ case jury a decade ago. If there’s easy money to be made, legally or illegally, there will be sleazoids willing to do anything to get it.
      It may be the class of people who populate our fair city and region but, we see a lot more meth heads hereabouts. Seriously, can opioid addicts hide in plain sight better than crack or meth addicts?

      1. Grebo

        can opioid addicts hide in plain sight better than crack or meth addicts?

        Yes, if they can afford the clean stuff which is legally available. I suspect opioid addiction is common among doctors.

        1. Wukchumni

          A friend was going to rehab about 15 years ago, and one of the other attendees was a pharmacist, whose addiction to Vicodin was up to 45 pills a day (ye gads!) when push>met<shove.

          1. ambrit

            Good G-d! 45 a day! That pharmacist was a very lucky person to survive. How did that level of use affect their job performance? Nurse Jackie comes to mind.
            People who do obviously dangerous things like fly aircraft or run heavy equipment are prohibited from drugs use at work. However, when drugs use becomes an all day affair, someone will eventually be harmed. The knock on effects must be huge. For alzheimers patients, the family caregivers are said to suffer even more than the patients. I suspect that the same applies to drugs addiction.

            1. Wukchumni

              You can build up a tolerance for anything, and i’ll admit my hands shook a bit when I wrote 45, shuddering to think about it.

              1. ambrit

                Isn’t there a story about Rasputin eating apple seeds regularly to build up a tolerance for arsenic, use of which was a very common method of poisoning off rivals back in the day?

      1. Chris

        My younger brother and his former fiancé. Just found out this past Christmas they were broke, had stopped paying the mortgage, the car loan, the utilities, and were barely supporting themselves. Additionally come to find she was much deeper in the hole from college debt than we previously thought, which just compounded their financial stress by a factor of 10x. They are financially illiterate, were too proud to ask for help, and turned to opiates to numb the pain instead. Now totally bankrupt, they’ve checked in/out of a clinic, currently working the program and trying to pick up the tattered pieces of their lives.

        Being there with my brother as he tries to stay clean, navigate the financial minefield of bankruptcy/health insurance coverage for his treatment, find a way to get to work so he can keep his job (license was suspended because the court misfiled his payment for a previous fine, and he was in rehab when they sent the form he had to fill out by the deadline) – it’s amazing how literally every institution involved in the above has seemingly conspired to make the process so incredibly difficult. As is often stated around here, it’s almost as if this is a ‘feature of the system’ and people in my brother’s situation can just ‘go die’ if he doesn’t want to get in line.

        I fear for my brother’s safety and well-being. He has struggled to find a decent-paying job and start a life for himself during the past 10 years. And he feels like he is falling behind everyone else. Thankfully he has a good support system in our family, but I can’t imagine what this must be like for someone in his position. Or someone else in this position with an even worse or non-existent family support system.

        A country’s fundamental purpose is to provide for all of its citizens. This country’s purpose is the exact opposite.

        1. Wukchumni

          My wife’s sisters son is a heroin addict, has been to rehab but it didn’t take and now he’s @ home using again, en route to a funeral parlor.

          It isn’t so much suicide, but slow torture of his parents resulting in.

    6. pdehaan

      I grew up in a family with one of my elder brothers addicted to heroin during a 4-year period, still in his teens. That was in the Netherlands, some 40 years ago. It was an extremely disruptive period of time, for everybody involved.
      It’s traumatic in so many ways… the stealing, the lying, the financial implications on an already low ‘family budget’ (our parents rather banked his addiction, hoping he would not steal and rob, but he did anyway), concerns for his well-being, etc.
      It was fortunate, though, that Dutch drug policy in those days was one of the most progressive in the world. It was considered a serious public health issue, rather than a law-enforcement issue. Money was available for research and experimental clinics. He finally took the decision to be admitted to a 2-year program in a clinic in the Hague and has been ‘clean’ ever since.

      A 2-year program may appear lengthy (I don’t think anything like that exists in the US in the public sphere), but it was basically a phased approach, where you started in an ‘egg’ phase, and then each phase giving you more responsibility and freedom, including living on your own again and getting a job or study during the last few phases and assisting and accompanying ‘younger brothers’ who were in earlier phases. It meant we got to know other recovering addicts whenever my brother paid us a visit. The recovery success rate was very high because it was focused not just on the addiction, but more importantly the psychological recovery of the human being and learning again how to take responsibility for oneself and others.

      I don’t know if public funds for these kind of programs are still available nowadays, in the Netherlands. I very much doubt it, though, now that it’s all about winners and losers, and social fabric isn’t the same now as it was back then.

      1. Paleobotanist

        A student and an intern. A cousin and probably youngest sister. It’s out there and touches us all if we look. Having an addict as a family member is impossible: the lying, the stealing, the demands for money, the deadly endangerment of others.

    7. John Zelnicker

      You mean besides myself?

      Yeah, I had a problem abusing opiates for a couple of years ending over 7 years ago. Built up a huge tolerance, but never took anything except pharmaceuticals. Needles and unknown substances scare me. The doctor who was supplying me for a while was just sentenced last year to, IIRC, 30 years for running a pill mill and Medicare/Medicaid fraud in the tens of millions.

      I can think of at least three friends and acquaintances who had opiate abuse problems, but all got clean, fortunately.

  6. HotFlash

    How Many Opioid Overdoses Are Suicides?

    Good question. I would bet it’s at least as high as the number of fatal ‘hunting accidents’ involving one person, which, I was told in a hunter safety course, is well over half. I know you don’t have any stats on this in the US, but here the RCMP says are suicides, and 20% of gun woundings are suicide attempts. These are old stats, back to 2003; There’s even a handy chart, Firearm Deaths in Canada, at least up to 2005. Steven Harper was PM starting in 2004 and he stopped the collection of a lot of stats, may this too – dunno.

    Anyway, I’d not be surprised that over half of opioid deaths would be suicide, but surely a whole lot more than 2%

    1. JBird

      Yeah, roughly similar numbers in America.

      I think that many black homicides are opportunistic suicides rather like how some police homicides are suicide by cop. Go out looking for some revenge or don’t duck quite that quickly while walking to the store. It’s not suicide, it’s just bad luck.

      So for the impulsive, it’s the 2AM Guns Blues and for those that don’t plan on dying, but don’t care if they don’t, it’s not being very observant with that fentanyl infused concoction. Again, it’s just bad luck.

      1. JTMcPhee

        Not so much bad luck, seems to me, as the realities of a “system” that’s designed principally to extract work and money from the many to further engorge the few. Here’s hoping your brother and friends can find a way through the gauntlet,

        Everybody’s in on the looting: “Megachurch Pastor Accused Of A $3.5 Million Scam, He Claims Innocence, But This Is Why He May Be Guilty,” . Note the “fairness” of this article — the MSM versions tended to be a little more “one-sided.” And there’s this, for those who like history, and love Jesus:

        1. JBird

          It is the self-manufactured bad luck, and not the system’s creation and imposition of it, that I am referring to. Many die because they stop being as careful as they used to be. Don’t quickly duck at that loud sound, don’t recheck the dosage, be a little less aware. Whoops.

    2. JBird

      Steven Harper was PM starting in 2004 and he stopped the collection of a lot of stats, may this too – dunno.

      An awful lot of idiots do seem to think that whatever the problem is, it’ll aaalll go away if you pretend hard enough.

      Reminds me of how Governor Rick Scott of Florida had the state employees forbidden from talking about the rising sea levels and global warming. Of course, the higher up you are, the less chance you will be the one getting the hurt.

    3. animalogic

      In the knowledge some commentators will become angry, I would like to note that the young woman in this article chose a very questionable way to commit suicide.
      Having had direct & indirect experience of OD’s & suicide by OD her technique was highly likely to lead to unconsciousness not death. Suicide by OD requires one single large shot.
      I’m very glad she chose the way she did & wish her all the best in a very long life.

      1. Procopius

        Yeah, I think about that a lot. You never see reports of it in the MSM, do you? I think I first read about it in a Glenn Greenwald column back when I still liked his writing. Unfortunately, a big part of the remaining middle class is only there because they’re getting well paid to run the War on Drugs, and nobody wants to break their rice bowl, do they?

        1. Wukchumni

          The only good paying jobs with bennies in the CVBB are for the 3 shifts in the penal-industrial-complex.

  7. RecoveryOC

    Watching it firsthand in California, working with those in Recovery. After a while, you can see the people just going through the motions, and lying to themselves. It’s a hard problem, without any easy answers. Once people find themselves lost, it’s hard for them to find themselves again. The moment someone asks for help, we need to be ready to give it. Acknowledge people, give them something to do, care about them.

    1. Gorgeous Borges

      Recovery OC,

      This point can’t be driven home hard enough. If you suspect someone is despairing and you are in a position to do anything to help them, do it. Deep despair is the gateway drug, when it comes to hard drug use.

      I was in a position to provide safe shelter, meals and support for a couple of young adults with pre-existing depression and anxiety, when their mother left them. They were of age but not equipped to make it on their own. As indigenous youth they had all kinds of problems and when I reached out to them they were headed for the streets.

      My home offered them a base of operations and from there they were able to get help from the government and Indian affairs.

      It was scary for me because I didn’t know them very well and I wasn’t sure what I would be getting into. But it all worked out and they are doing much better now, 8 years later. Had nobody been there for them it is almost a certainty they would have commit suicide one way or the other, and it could easily have been through opiates.

      Despair is the core problem and in the U.S, it isn’t as if there is an active political conspiracy to get rid of people. It is a case of defaulting to the line of least resistance, which is to align with Social Darwinian myths about weakness and strength.

      Is it a strength to be able to naturally be high functioning in a society with weak family structures and other support systems? It might be evidence of resiliency in some, but anti- social nature in others.

      It may turn out that those who despair do so for a good reason. They are the canaries in the coal mine.

      1. eudora welty

        I agree, canaries in the coal mine. I work in a couple of urban hospitals, and the number of patients who have histories of drug use (mostly meth in my area) has skyrocketed in recent years. I am astonished.

  8. Mark

    The article misses two points in my opinion. All drug deaths, including cancers, are suicides, albeit sometimes on a long time scale. Drugs are deadly poisons, sometimes even extremely deadly. There are differences in how alcohol, nicotin, THC etc. affect the body but the fact all users have in coming is the willing intake of a known poisonous substance. If the intake is not willingly one would be talking about assault or murder not accident obviously. In a society like the contemporary US knowledge about these toxins is widely available and only humans with very limited mental abilities like young children could be said to take them by accident. On a different note, in a highly individualistic society like our “western” world it seems somewhat hypocritical to put a stigma on suicide given that obligations to society, class, family and the biosphere are routinely denied while individual human rights and individual gains are championed. The destruction of nature or cheating other human beings is almost a required trait for our leaders and “job-creators” but the trully individual act of ending one’s own life is taboo?

    1. John Zelnicker

      @Mark
      March 31, 2018 at 6:35 am
      ——
      I’m gonna take exception to your inclusion of THC as a toxin to the human body. It is not.

      There is an endocannabinoid system throughout the human body that is specifically constructed to accept and use THC and many of the other cannabinoids in marijuana. Your body actually produces its own cannabinoid analogues to use to help regulate many metabolic and other bodily functions.

      The body of research supporting the many medical uses of marijuana is growing almost daily and the few studies that appear to show detrimental effects, especially psychological ones, are, for the most part, poorly designed or heavily biased by the politics of the researchers.

      It’s also important to note that there has never been a fatal overdose of marijuana or THC.

      Never.

      1. ambrit

        Except of course for those poor Zulu warriors who were given some ungodly strong canabinoid ‘dust’ to amp them up for attacking rifle armed troopers during the Zulu wars. Admittedly, this was a case of THC usage leading to acute lead poisoning.
        Given the way the “War on Drugs” is run in America, ‘acute lead poisoning’ is a common side effect of drugs usage today. Especially for persons ‘of colour.’

    2. animalogic

      And I take exception to the classification of opiods, per se as poison. Opoids are not toxic, that is they do not directly damage any organs such as alcohol does.
      Under intelligent medical care there is no reason (again, per se) why an opoid user can not lead a long – & productive – life.
      (Street heroin my be toxic via additives or faulty production)

  9. Ed

    Thanks for those who showed their hands. Seeing it up close is so much more vital than reading about it. In my case, I had a close friend who was hooked on heroin; we went our separate ways and I do not know if he ever beat it. A close “virtual” friend was addicted as a result of a hellacious motorcycle accident in which he could have died (and many times probably wishes he did). Last I heard, he was deeply in pain (two titanium rods holding his spine upright, along with pins and screws in his jaw), trying to earn a decent living, scrambling to get access to health care, and two steps away from imprisonment for motor vehicle incidents in which he’d side-stepped the law. I spent over a year in West Virginia, a state where this is a plague. Finally, the husband of my wife’s niece (working as a roofer) fell off a roof and into the pit of having to beg, borrow or steal in order to get lback-market pills; he too was steps away from jail. The entire mess is slowly destroying people, families and even small communities. When you can name the names of the people right around you, it’s no longer some distant policy problem.

  10. sharonsj

    I have several acquaintances who are addicted to opioids, other drugs, and alcohol. I’m pretty sure it’s because of their crappy lives. I’m an old lady and I have seen society slowly fall apart over the decades. My father, who was poor, still managed to keep a roof over our heads and us. I didn’t even realize we were poor. But that was 50 years ago. Now it takes two or three working family members to earn enough to survive and the constant struggle takes a toll. Unfortunately I don’t see things getting any better.

  11. Gorgeous Borges

    Sharonsj,

    I’m old like you. Old enough to easily remember the collapse of Communism in Russia and her satellite countries, particularly during Yeltsin’s time. I feel capitalism in the West started to collapse not too long afterward as evidenced by what you have just described. What survives is held together with bailing wire, tape and massive debt. The U.S. is now a third world nation, one without close social networks.

  12. Ep3

    Yves, I disagree with this premise that is mixing prescription opioids with heroin opioid deaths. Either people are being taken off this medicine and denied addiction treatment, where they turn to heroin, then OD’ing, or people are lying to the ER docs. They OD on heroin go to the emergency room, and instead of admitting they use heroin, they say they use Rx pills out of fear that admitting they OD’d on heroin will get them in serious legal trouble. Can doctors tell a difference?
    I just see ulterior motives in this so called “war”. “Trump is tough on crime”, “trump fixed everything”, “it wasn’t the lead in the drinking water that made the people of flint sick, it was the rx pain pills”.

  13. flipper

    A couple of months short of 24 years ago I decided to kick a long-term heroin habit. I didn’t get one moment of sleep for 40 days and nights. I stayed “clean” for 90 days, then relapsed…

    22 months or so later, a couple of months short of my 44th birthday, I did, what certainly looks like… my last hit of smack. And now, I’m a few months shy of my 66th birthday, and 5 weeks shy of my 22nd “anniversary” of getting clean.

    I went to countless 12-Step meetings for the next 7 years…

    Heroism? Bravery? Please. I chose the only viable alternative. Believe me, that wasn’t the result of “rocket science” or “Heroism,” at all.

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