Addiction series to run in Advocate

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, May 15, 2002

A couple of weeks ago, I attended a drug addiction program for journalists sponsored by Wake Forest University School of Medicine in Atlanta. The school was kind enough to provide me with a scholarship to attend the workshop to help in a series that the staff of the Advocate came up with last year.

The first of a year-long series was the education series that ran from October through January. The second of these series is titled, "Manufactured Demons: A look at drug addiction and its effects in South Central Alabama."

The series will begin in next Saturday's paper, and will show how drug addiction affects all facets of life, from the home to business and to the economy.

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It was coincidental that a couple of weekends ago, 200 people were arrested in Birmingham at a Widespread Panic concert for underage drinking and/or possession of illegal drugs.

We at the Advocate feel this is a very important topic that wreaks havoc in life in this area, which is why we chose to focus on the topic.

The conference was very informative and helped me to both understand how drugs do affect life and how they are so powerful. The group of speakers that the university had scheduled were very knowledgeable about the subject in all areas, including public policy, the effect on the body, and how people become addicted to various drugs.

One of the more interesting speakers was a past-nationally known reporter (whom I will not

mention by name) for a major network who now works in recovery advocacy.

Her story was an interesting one, although quite sad.

She basically had two personalities

one that allowed her to go to her job everyday and report the news to millions of people and the other as an addict.

Her financial situation aided her in her addiction to drugs and alcohol. She was single, had no children and made a good salary. She said that she did not do all of the household chores that most of us do on an everyday basis, for example, rather than washing clothes, she would buy new ones, wear them a few times, and then throw them out.

She said she knew from the first time she drank with her friends at the age of about 13, that she could drink most anyone under the table. When a typical person would be vomiting from consuming too much alcohol, she would still be drinking and would never get to that point. However, her reality was that she would black-out. She would not go to sleep, but would still be awake and upon coming to, often had no clue where she was or what she had done.

She admitted that she was an addict for almost 20 years, but now, she is sober and has been for some time. She is a success story in that she has battled demons and now is helping others do the same.

Drug addiction is a serious issue, and as the series will unfold, not everyone who uses drugs is a drug addict. But, the fact of the matter is that drugs are harmful and illegal. They cause people to do things they wouldn't normally do, and if one word, one sentence, one paragraph or one story of this series helps one person or one family member to fight these Manufactured Demons', then the series will be worth it.

We, at the Advocate, welcome your responses, stories, or story ideas in relation to this series.

You never know, that one story that helps to save another life could be yours.