Britt’s 28 years old as I write this, and battling heroin addiction. Her drug use has never truly stopped, only for short stints usually turning to alcohol to “disguise” it or make us think she was functioning just fine. Since that day she smoked meth in the Summer of 2002, at 15 years old she has probably never been without a substance in her system or craving one.

3 weeks after I made that Facebook post when Brittany entered treatment for the 4th time, my 41 year old brother died from a drug overdose on Dec 7th, 2013. He was partying with some “friends” on a Friday night — drinking, snorting coke — his usual weekend bullshit. Dave was a party boy that never really grew up, and fully matured. Except this time someone chopped up a line of cocaine and combined it with heroin. He snorted it, layed down on the sofa and never woke up.

I found him on the Monday morning, after his boss called and said he didn’t show up for work. He was dead on the ground beside the sofa — he had rolled off and had been there for since Friday night. It was a truly traumatizing experience for me and our family.

After my many years of dealing with addicts in my life, and the sadness and pain they have caused, my beliefs are a bit different and slightly slanted, than what many the recovery “industry” has to say. I am just going to remind you that I’m not a counselor or certified in any way — but I have been fully trained with a PHd from the School of Hard-Knocks and that has a lot more cred, than someone who spouts advice that has never truly walked a mile in these shoes, IMO!

I do NOT believe addiction is a disease — I believe it’s a CHOICE. Cancer, MS, Parkinsons — these are diseases. NOT addiction. There….I said it. And the sooner we as a society start coming to grips with this reality, the better chance we have at solving these issues. This ideal will force addicts to take ownership for their choices and stop blaming something for their problems — because each and every day, they make a choice to take the path of least resistance. RESPONSIBILITY. I have alot more to say on this topic and I will tell you how this mindset helped my daughter get clean and she is now thriving. Tough love.

Going through so much changes you as a person. It can break you, or make you stronger and better. I have come out the other side of it; still sane, fairly high functioning, with a successful career, a healthy and happy marriage, a heart full of love, my sense of humor intact and the ability to feel joy without feeling guilt or shame. But I had to fight hard, and in that fight I have the developed by biggest asset — the mindset of a realist, prepared for fucking anything. I have learned to control my emotions like a boss, and mastered the art of remaining calm. It just happened by osmosis during the survival part of my journey. I exercised that muscle enough that it is strong now, unshakably strong. I feel like I have been through battle, a war; and now I am SEAL Team 6 level.

I try my best to live each day as much in the present as possible, and don’t take anything for granted. When my feet hit the floor in the morning I try to run through a quick list of the things I have to be grateful floor, even the most basic things like “my cozy robe I am about to put on, and my Keurig machine that is about to make the magic potion I need in my viens and I love so very very much”. Try to stay focused on being present and be mindful and positive. I believe self-care is the key to surviving this. You can run yourself into the ground, emotionally, mentally and physically if you aren’t careful. Please, please stop beating yourself up or you will be no good to anyone.

If you have a loved one that is battling addiction, my heart goes out to you, I feel your pain, despair, shame and can relate to probably just about everything you have going on — stay strong.