This afternoon my dad posted something to Facebook about the news that Yankees starting picture CC Sabathia was checking himself in to rehab for an alcohol problem. Brave of Sabathia, I thought.
Shortly after, an acquaintance posted the same story, commenting (paraphrasing) "Couldn't he have waited a few days?"
Addiction is a life or death matter. Left untreated, it can destroy families, decimate a person's health, and rob people of their talents. Of everything.
Most people are supportive of Sabathia's decision. Most.
For everyone else (especially the ones making jokes about it, which was not my FB friend):
I wish that they would have tuned into social media yesterday, October 4 -- specifically the live stream of #UniteToFaceAddiction. This historic event brought together tens of thousands of people from around the country, uniting on the National Mall in an unprecedented rally to show the diversity of those affected by addiction. The event, also a call to build a grassroots constituency among those in recovery, the people who love the, and the people who care about this issue, was much needed.
I have a special place in my heart for people suffering from fear, from shame, from guilt. Who struggle with physical and emotional hurdles that they never saw coming.
Because that is all of us at some point, addiction or not.
According to Facing Addiction.org (the organizers of yesterday's event), in the U.S. there are 24 million people dealing with addiction. Approximately 90% of people who need treatment don't get it. Aside from the courage it takes to admit a problem, and access to treatment, the financial implications alone make the path toward recovery an uphill battle.
And that's before the actual recovery even starts.
It's funny -- I posted an old photo of me and my pugs as a joke on Saturday morning. It got 54 likes. (It was pretty funny.) When later in the weekend, I posted something about the Unite To Face Addiction Rally it only got one. Maybe it seemed like another cause, and perhaps people are tired of causes. Maybe sometimes we want to laugh more than learn about the skyrocketing deaths from prescription drugs. Maybe the comparison between two posts like that isn't really fair. I get it.
I also get this, part of the statement that CC Sabathia released today:
"I want to take control of my disease, and I want to be a better man, father and player.”
That's why I stand with CC. That and a million other reasons including that it's time we get rid of the stigma around addiction, and that even when we don't understand, we have empathy for this hell of a path.
I stand with CC because I belive in hope, and action. And that someday -- starting today -- we'll look up to him for doing one of the hardest things one can ever do -- saying "I Need Help."