I’m sure I’ve said this before, probably in the first incarnation of this record of my journey in recovery, that if you spend any significant part of your life in the company of people who are trying to recover, you see a lot of people die. Addicts, as a class of people (and I’m really trying to move away from using that word to describe people with a substance use disorder), whether they are trying to get sober or not, die with astonishing regularity. In the county where I live, the local Drug Court has approximately 450 participants at any given time. In the 18
He was very young. About 23 years old. He battled a significant mental health issue. He was profoundly in the grips of an opioid use disorder. He begged the court to discharge him from the program so that he could use medication to help him deal with the cravings. The court, in response to the need to have some sanction for some issue (this is how problem-solving courts work), jailed this young man for a week. The night after his release, he was dead.
I do not wish to imply, in any way, that the drug court is responsible for these deaths. It’s just that there are more of them than I . . . well, honestly, I’d like there to be none. But 5 out of 450 in an 18 month period seems like a very high number. And it does seem like someone in my position should be putting some serious effort into finding the gap and addressing it. And I am.
I’m also grieving the loss of a friend. And trying to keep up with all my other work. I’m also thinking about the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., today, as I frequently do. Today is the 41st anniversary of his assasination. His final speech was 41 years and one day ago.
Let us rise up tonight with a greater readiness. Let us stand with a greater determination. And let us move on in these powerful days, these days of challenge to make America what it ought to be. We have an opportunity to make America a better nation. And I want to thank God, once more, for allowing me to be here with you.