There is always a back story. The sudden death of ‘Glee’ actor Cory Monteith, brings home the disease of addiction to the breakfast table. While you munch on muesli, someone is overdosing in an ambulance or comatose on meth, or in rehab truly believing they really have consumed their last drug. They haven’t. It’s a bit like a road accident, it always happens to someone else, until it happens to you. Not only do we think we are exempt from such precarious scenarios, but we expect rich, famous, talented people to be exempt too, after all money and fame solve everything don’t they?
Addiction has been referred to as ‘the disease that tells you, you haven’t got it’, and even being aware you have it, is no insurance. Born in 1982, the year Betty Ford opened her celebrity clinic, 31 years old Cory has now peacefully passed away from the accolades, the internal struggles and the sheer pain of not being able to stop using. In March this year he voluntarily entered rehab for substance addiction yet again, to delve through his back story, not a new exercise for Cory as his first rehab stint was age 19.
Leaving school at 16, the teenager with obvious drink and drug problems escalating at speed, coupled with kleptomania, compulsively stealing from family and friends until a family intervention occurred, to face his malaise. Stealing and getting away with it, has the same high as the compulsive gambler at the tables or city lawyers hoovering lines in a toilet at work, in order to cope with work pressures. Thinking no one knows or that you have got away with it is a buzz, but addiction is not choosy who it holds hostage, any age or social strata, as many will testify. Cory famously said in an interview, ” I was done fighting myself – I finally said, “I’m gonna start looking at my life and figure out why I’m doing this”.
Hands in the air, how many times have you heard someone say that? How many times have you sighed in frustration, like those close to Cory, the patient girlfriend, the family, the co-workers, the friends? WHEN will he get it? . . . perhaps, when will YOU get it? Maybe he did get it, maybe he had abstained for a period and relapsed his illness. We don’t know the back story.
Drugs and alcohol are not addictive, despite what governments tell us, multi millions consume daily without the need for attention, but those with an addictive personality need an alarm clock. WAKE UP! No point in explaining who they are, the risk-takers, boundary breakers, the chaos living clones who crash and burn, the secret silent users, and those who continue to act out compulsively with sex, workaholicism or food.
This is the illness of addiction, when self harm defies reason. They just can’t help themselves and push away anyone that judges. When I was bang at it I was oblivious to the harm I was causing. There was always an unspoken ‘incident’, another drama, or a repetitive pattern of low esteem with fix and rescue me escapades in motion. It becomes tedious to witness harm that people around addicts face daily, feeling helpless.
Many gay men remain heavy users of recreational drugs, including alcohol, but thankfully most never reach chronic addiction, they WAKE UP! and redress behaviours en route to avoid crisis. I didn’t. I worked the drug of denial until 1982, the year Cory was born, surrendering my addictions in that year, after my eighth relapse, on the cusp of death.
Then I got it : I could never safely use drugs & alcohol again, though I humbly acknowledge that it’s not been an easy road, but it was essential to begin the process of living a gay life without drink and drugs, or die a junkie. I’ve been miraculously clean for the whole of Cory’s lifetime, and seen hundreds of addicts die, it comes with the territory. I have not done it alone, and nor should you, but still remain vigilant, blessed and hopeful that recovery continues, for staying clean is not a given. Many addicts relapse after a clean period and overdose as the body can’t handle the new intake. My friend Tim, 26 years old, came out of treatment, got 4 months clean and did heroin. He was found by his brother slumped over the breakfast table dead after one hit. He took the gamble and lost, maybe Cory did the same?
My heartfelt thoughts go out to Cory’s partner, family, friends and inner circle while they absorb the shock. To value life, our friends, our GLEE and our inner strengths to carry this through, it’s wise to check your back story. Take stock often. Make changes. Seek help.
This blog of mine first appeared on GuySpy.com on July 15th 2013, 2 days after Cory’s death : http://www.guyspy.com/cory-monteith-post-glee/