From CNN Article: CNN OPINION
By Gary Stromberg, Special to CNN
Editor’s note: Gary Stromberg, who runs the PR firm The Blackbird Group, co-founded Gibson and Stromberg, a music public relations firm that operated in the 1960s and 1970s and represented The Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd, Muhammad Ali, Barbra Streisand, Boyz II Men, Neil Diamond, Ray Charles, The Doors, Earth, Wind & Fire, Elton John, Three Dog Night and Crosby, Stills & Nash. He’s co-written several books that deal with addiction, including “The Harder They Fall.” His fourth book, “She’s Come Undone,” is due out this spring. He is active in service work to help people recover from addiction.
(CNN) — The Whitney Houston headlines last week sent a familiar shiver through me.
In the 1970s, I ran one of the leading entertainment business public relations firms. Celebrity clients were wildly indulging themselves, accountable to no one. It was money, power and prestige, with no one to say, “That’s enough.”
Drugs and alcohol were endemic. Today, the conversation revolves around prescription drugs, but back then we were into more basic mind-altering substances: pot, psychedelics, cocaine and heroin.
To be truthful, I had an amazing run before it all turned to garbage.
My office, on the Sunset Strip in West Hollywood, was set up like a huge living room with couches, overstuffed pillows on the floor, rock star posters lining the walls and a coffee table, the centerpiece of which was a large crystal bowl, filled at all times with a generous supply of cocaine.
The house rules were “help yourself if you’re here on business — but no take-outs!” We were regularly visited by our clients, including The Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd, The Doors and Steppenwolf. As you could imagine, my office was a very popular place.
But 29 years ago, I stood at the precipice with a decision to make. With a career of impressive accomplishments in the rear-view mirror, I had what looked like only despair and death ahead of me. Alcoholism and drug addiction had rendered me into what the “Big Book” of Alcoholics Anonymous refers to as “pitiful and incomprehensible demoralization.” The choice seemed simple. Choose life or death.
Do I acknowledge I have a problem, or do I continue to live in denial?
Do I listen to my friends and family, or do I seek my own counsel?
Do I continue to deteriorate mentally and physically, or do I say, “I’ve had enough?”
Do I choose to live, or do I want to die?
If I once had a dream, I thought, it was long ago shattered. If I once had a dream, it’s floating face down in a bottle of Jack Daniels. If I once had a dream … ahh, screw it, I ain’t no Martin Luther King Jr.
Throwing in the towel and surrendering to admitting I had a serious problem should have been the obvious thing to do, given the state I was in. But at the time, change seemed impossible, unimaginable, incomprehensible and downright insane. Insane was the right word, all right, but it described my state of mind.
Alcohol and drugs are subtle foes; cunning, baffling and powerful. I seemed to be the last one to know I was in big trouble. When my high-profile career started to fall apart, it was other people’s fault. When my substantial income dried up, my business manager was to blame. When the beautiful house I so dearly loved was finally foreclosed, it was the bank that was screwing me. When she finally couldn’t take it anymore and left, I knew she was the type to do this to me. When my friends began to disappear, they were scum and didn’t deserve me. And when, at last, my only friends, my drugs and alcohol turned on me, I knew it was over.
And so a journey of unimaginable proportions began.
Not to any outward destination. No rehab, no trip to a far-off spa. I didn’t move to another city, as if a geographic change would fix it. No, I didn’t have to travel anywhere, except into the mirror, and by peeling the onion of my soul. The journey was within, to at long last discover where the real problem resided.
It was, of course, in me.
What a surprise — with the loving help and support of a 12-step program, I found the real culprit. We in recovery refer to alcoholism as a spiritual sickness. And if you look that up in the dictionary, you’ll find a photo of me. “Mr. Spiritual Sickness of 1982.”
If you ask me nicely, I might show you a picture of that lost soul that I still carry around in my wallet. Yes, I had long hair and a beard, the smug look of false confidence on my face and even the obligatory turquoise jewelry of that era. But look more closely, and you’ll see in my eyes shallow pools of emptiness, pupils like pinholes from the daily consumption of narcotics. As a friend remarked when he saw the photo, “The lights are on, but nobody’s home.”
After you shake your head in disbelief,and look up at me again wondering how this was possible and how I became such a different person, I will offer you an explanation.
I’m a recovering drug addict and alcoholic who was spared from a life of misery, incarceration and death. I’ve been spared from the life of self-centeredness that led me to care very little about others and only about myself. I’ve been spared from the countless fears of inadequacy, failure, success, intimacy and anything else that threatened my well-guarded defenses. I’ve been spared a life of darkness and shown a path into the light.
We don’t yet know why Whitney died, but we know she struggled with addiction. It’s a pity that now, Whitney will not have the option I had.
In Houston,Texas, there is a post punk band called Mydolls.
Mydolls formed in 1978 and has stayed together in friendship and played shows since then.
Sometime in the 90’s Mydolls added a 5th player, Kathy Johnston.
Kathy was a terrific guitarist. Completely devoted to Mydolls and her partner, Dianna Ray, bass player of Mydolls.
Kathy was diagnosed with Leukemia in 2004 and has fought the good fight for her life bravely since then.
She passed away on Saturday September 4, 2011 at 58 years old.
Rest in peace, sweet Kathy.
I got a bad case of the Fuck Its..
It’s too hot for Revolution.
Don’t give a shit mutha fuka!
REALLY RED Bored with Apathy
The Third Step Prayer
God, I offer myself to Thee-
To build with me
and to do with me as Thou wilt.
Relieve me of the bondage of self,
that I may better do Thy will.
Take away my difficulties,
that victory over them may bear witness
to those I would help of Thy Power,
Thy Love, and Thy Way of life.
May I do Thy will always!
Patti Davis, Ronald Reagan’s daughter, got clean and sober and changed her life in her late twenties. She is a person who has lived her life with out being told who she should be.
Will Patti be on her death bed asking, “What if my whole life was wrong?” Tolstoy
Beautiful Patti at 58
Patti on Amy Winehouse
“When I eventually quit — after many years — it was for the simplest, most childlike reason: my father had taught me to trust God, and I didn’t want to disappoint Him. I didn’t want God to be angry with me.”
In the late 70s punk rock was born and gave way to what people may recognize as tribal, creating a new form of music and fashion. Honestly for me, it was the family of my dreams. I was encouraged to be as wild and angry expressing myself and all the rage inside of me to the fullest. For me, it was a form of expression. I developed lasting friendships that have witnessed a great portion of my life. I will say that AA is somewhat like that for me. Though I am taught to follow the 12 steps and traditions and I am not drunk like before, I am encouraged to question and I am always accepted in my abstract beliefs. I can truly say that both AA and Punk Rock saved my life.
My sober punk rock friend, who was also part of the punk scene back when, says,
“For me it was pretty much the same. For as long as I can remember, I wanted off this planet! Life at home was terrifying and full of rage. All I wanted was out. I started to drink at age 8 and drugs at 9. That was one way out!
Drugs and alcohol took me away from all “this”. They worked till they didn’t. Finally I found relief. I was also in love with music. As Lou Reed so eloquently put it “it’s my wife and it’s my life”. That applied to drugs, alcohol, and music.
I loved lyrics. Mostly then, they were about drugs and alcohol. Then a friend turned me on to “Punk Rock”. The lyrics were about hate and injustice and they made fun of the status quo. Right up my alley. They perfectly expressed in words, how I felt. This was my new family, my chosen family. I could finally express my darkest feelings and no one minded. They didn’t care that I was broken. In fact they were broken too!
Very much like AA, we had a common bond.
Over the years (at least 35) some of us were lucky enough to find another way to survive. Unfortunately many didn’t. I miss them. There but for the grace of God, there go I.
There has been a resurgence of old skool punk rock. With that, I have reconnected with some old “warriors” from my past. Some will say it’s dangerous to go to clubs to participate in music. And I do participate! For me it’s like a high skool reunion only sexier!”
My friend picked this song. Really kinda says it all.
Too Drunk to Fuck 1981
So much controversy about this topic. I am sure that in my personal journey, I inherited this disease.
I had an opportunity of choice at one point to quit and I took it. I was young, 35 years old, but I knew I was done.
Choice is what it is all about. We are not amoebas. As humans, we have the power of choice.
I don’t believe in beating people up for whatever they choose. We are all so different and this is why AA is not for every one. Some times getting a new addiction or continuing to drink may be your path or controlled drinking or getting sober on our own without support …whatevah..
Theory is: If we were angels we would have to do the will of God, but since we are down here in this mess of a world we get to choose.
This goes for any addiction we may have…
The AMA believes it is important for professionals and laymen alike to recognize that alcoholism is in and of itself a disabling and handicapping condition. The AMA endorses the proposition that drug dependencies, including alcoholism, are diseases and that treatment is a legitimate part of medical practice, and encourages physicians, other health professionals, medical and other health related organizations, and government and other policymakers to become more well informed about drug dependencies, and to base their policies and activities on the recognition that drug dependencies and alcoholism are, in fact, diseases.
Drinking becomes too much when it causes or elevates the risk for alcohol-related problems or complicates the management of other health problems. According to epidemiologic research, men who drink more than 4 standard drinks in a day (or more than 14 per week) and women who drink more than 3 in a day (or more than 7 per week) are at increased risk for alcohol-related problems.
Individual responses to alcohol vary, however. Drinking at lower levels may be problematic depending on many factors, such as age, coexisting conditions, and use of medication. Because it isn’t known whether any amount of alcohol is safe during pregnancy, the Surgeon General urges abstinence for women who are or may become pregnant.
The CAGE questionnaire, named for its four questions, is one such example that may be used to screen patients quickly in a doctor’s office.
Two “yes” responses indicate that the respondent should be investigated further. The questionnaire asks the following questions:
- Tests are sometimes used for the detection of alcohol dependence, such as the Alcohol Dependence Data Questionnaire, which is a more sensitive diagnostic test than the CAGE questionnaire. It helps distinguish a diagnosis of alcohol dependence from one of heavy alcohol use. The Michigan Alcohol Screening Test (MAST) is a screening tool for alcoholism widely used by courts to determine the appropriate sentencing for people convicted of alcohol-related offenses,driving under the influence being the most common. The Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test (AUDIT), a screening questionnaire developed by the World Health Organization, is unique in that it has been validated in six countries and is used internationally. Like the CAGE questionnaire, it uses a simple set of questions – a high score earning a deeper investigation.The Paddington Alcohol Test (PAT) was designed to screen for alcohol related problems amongst those attending Accident and Emergency departments.
The relationship between Carl Jung and Bill Wilson, founder of AA, was pivotal in
founding the basic principle of spirituality as a cure for alcoholism.
Carl Jung was a Swiss psychiatrist, an influential thinker, and the founder of analytical psychology. Jung is often considered the first modern psychiatrist to state that the human psyche is “by nature religious” and to explore it in depth.Jung recommended spirituality as a cure for alcoholism and he is considered to have had an indirect role in establishing Alcoholics Anonymous.Jung once treated an American patient Rowland Hazard, suffering from chronic alcoholism.
After working with the patient for some time and achieving no significant progress, Jung told the man that his alcoholic condition was near to hopeless, save only the possibility of a spiritual experience. Jung noted that occasionally such experiences had been known to reform alcoholics where all else had failed.
Rowland took Jung’s advice seriously and set about seeking a personal spiritual experience. He returned home to the United States and joined a First-Century Christianevangelical movement known as the Oxford Group. He also told other alcoholics what Jung had told him about the importance of a spiritual experience.
One of the alcoholics he brought into the Oxford Group was Ebby Thacher, a long-time friend and drinking buddy of Bill Wilson, later co-founder of AA. Thacher told Wilson about the Oxford Group, and through them Wilson became aware of Hazard’s experience with Jung. The influence of Jung thus indirectly found its way into the formation of Alcoholics Anonymous, the original twelve-step program, and from there into the whole twelve-step recovery movement, although AA as a whole is not Jungian and Jung had no role in the formation of that approach or the twelve steps.
Here is a link to the letters:
Spirituality to me can be found anywhere. To me the world is nothing, but the skin of the spirit. Like a cover.
So if we stop looking for God or explaining it, we find it. It just is…
I love the letters that Bill and Jung wrote to each other.
It is amazing how AA began. Just meant to be…
In the Beginning there was Rhythm