An Insidious And Infectious Disease

JD is twenty-five years old. He was recently found lying in the street all scraped and bloody. He had just finished binging on crack cocaine. For the past four years, JD has been using crack ...

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JD is twenty-five years old. He was recently found lying in the street all scraped and bloody. He had just finished binging on crack cocaine. For the past four years, JD has been using crack as a form of medicine. He lubricates his use with excessive drinking.

It started at age twenty as a social dare with college friends. Initially it was only on the weekends, but quickly became a social behavior that he indulged in regularly. Unfortunately, for a long time JD could work, sustain his family relationship and a significant other without anyone questioning what JD was doing.

As his coke use increased, so did his wheeling, dealing and lying. Finally, he was spending more money than he was making in a week on his cocaine habit. However, as he was a bright college graduate from an upper middle class community, JD had tricks that the streets kids did not. He was stealing from his family and hocking some very significant possessions to raise the cash he needed for his habit.

His routine of manipulation was so smooth that he conned his significant other into a big wedding and used the twenty-five thousand dollars in gift money on cocaine during the first month of his marriage.

When JD started to miss work and call in sick because he could not get out of bed, his wife became suspicious that something was not right. Upon investigation, she noticed that money was being taken out of their savings account and money was missing from their checking account. Gifts that were given to them at their wedding were missing. Each time she confronted him, he lied and made up something far fetched to cover up for his blatant thievery.

He spent every liquid asset they had. He told his wife he was paying the bills, instead, he was snorting the payments up his nose. His wife gave him an ultimatum: get treatment or get out. He "yessed" her for months and gave a couple of academy award winning performances on how he was going to change. He begged her to be patient and continue to stand by his side. He assured her that he would not fail her.

Finally, she had had enough. JD was still using and not doing anything to work on his recovery. By this time, he lost his job and had no source of income. What little money he had left, he put up his nose. She asked him to leave. He refused.

A few days after a very violent confrontation with his wife, JD was strung out and tried to buy some coke from an undercover cop. The cop busted him and he was arrested. Because no one would post bail, he sat in the county jail for a week.

After begging, borrowing and stealing, JD had to face the fact that his poor choices left him with no one standing by his side. His family was advised not to rescue him or enable his destructive behavior. He was facing a series of very serious felonies that carried a long jail sentence. If convicted, he was wifeless and homeless. Even his own parents and siblings would not be manipulated by him.

Since he had no fixed address, he went back to jail. Penniless, he was assigned a legal aid attorney, who finally got him released from jail.

However, JD was a mess. He continued to get high in jail, in addition to getting beat up. With all that being said, he still had not hit bottom. He was not willing to commit himself to treatment. He tried recovery meetings, but continued to use and steal to survive.

At his second court appearance, after his arraignment, the judge presiding over his case read JD the riot act. She told him that if he did not get into treatment ASAP, she was going to give him the maximum sentence. She assured him that she would send him upstate to a hard-core prison. He was scared. He promised her the world that afternoon. He left court that day shaking.

Unfortunately, at age twenty-five, unemployed, with no insurance and no family or emotional support, finding residential treatment in New York State is almost impossible. He called countless professionals. Finally, a small agency agreed to at least do an evaluation. After two very intense hours, the counselor who met with JD said it was very clear that JD needed long-term treatment if he wanted to survive.

Up until now, JD was in denial of the severity of his addiction. In the midst of his tears, he agreed to do whatever it would take to regain control of his life and enter recovery.

Thanks to the cooperative efforts of a number of professionals, a small non-traditional long-term residential treatment program was found. They did a complete evaluation of JD and were willing to risk and give him an opportunity.

It has only been a few weeks, but all reports indicate that JD is really making an effort to use the opportunity before him. A major breakthrough came when he signed his "Wellness Contract," which indicated that the minimum residential stay would be at least a year. His counselor made it clear that if his treatment team felt that he needed to stay longer, they would expect him to cooperate.

This small residential treatment program shapes each treatment contract around the needs of the person. Their focus is about wellness and wholeness. Time and cost are secondary.

It is too early to tell if JD really reached his bottom and will last long enough to see the real value of recovery and living a drug-free life.

Addiction is everywhere. It wears so many different faces. It is insidious and infectious. Too many of us are blind to its' blatant symptoms and are in denial when it shackles a loved one.

It is a disease that is contaminating too many people. It is spreading like wildfire because too many people get distracted by shame, blame and guilt. If it touches you or a loved one, it should not embarrass you, but humble you and empower you to do what it takes to heal and enter recovery.

The insurance bureaucracy needs to be challenged to include comprehensive coverage for more than detox in their major medical plans. A growing number of people need long-term residential care. Their livelihood could depend on it!