Author Archive

One Minnesota couple’s story of addiction and loss

Posted on: February 19th, 2018 by sobrietyresources

By CHRISTOPHER MAGAN | [email protected] | Pioneer Press

February 18, 2018 at 6:00 am

Anne Emerson has been living her “worst nightmare” since losing her fiance, Ryan Anderson, to an opioid overdose in December.

“My heart is numb. I’m stuck living in denial that he isn’t really gone,” Emerson wrote in an essay about their relationship and struggles with drug addiction. “The pain inside is too overwhelming.”

Anderson overdosed on heroin that Emerson believes was laced with fentanyl on Nov. 28. His friends didn’t understand what was happening so they took him home, but by the time he got there, it was too late.

“I was frantic. My world just kept spinning,” Emerson said. “In my mind, I just thought, ‘This isn’t happening.’ ”

She quickly started CPR and administered the opioid antidote Narcan to Anderson. But he didn’t come back like he had before. He wasn’t conscious.

At the hospital, Anderson went into cardiac arrest. He was on life support for four days before he died Dec. 3.

Emerson is sharing her story in hopes it will inspire other addicts to get help. What follows was drawn from Emerson’s essay about her relationship with Anderson and both of their struggles with addiction.

“Ryan has been addicted to drugs since he was a teenager. Heroin, meth, Xanax and at one point alcohol. He spent his years in and out of prison and jail. I had no clue the day we first met that my life would be forever changed.”


Ryan and Anne met in 2012. He was in a halfway house on work release, just out of prison. She was living in a sober apartment recovering from an addiction to methamphetamine and studying to be a drug counselor.

The Coon Rapids residents had mutual friends, but had never met in person before. That changed after they both commented on a friend’s Facebook post. They exchanged numbers, started texting and soon started a relationship.

“Ryan called and asked me out to dinner one night and I told him that I’d love to, but had no sitter for my son. His response blew me away: ‘Oh well, that’s OK he can come with.’ He and my son Braeden were best buds, it makes my heart melt to think how close they were.”


Ryan was sober when he started dating Anne, but that quickly changed. A few months into their relationship, he was using methamphetamine, prescription pills and later heroin. Ryan was close with his brother Eric, whom he liked to spend time with and who also struggled with addiction.

“Ryan’s life really began to change when his brother lost his life to a heroin overdose on Oct. 27, 2013. Ryan was in prison when his brother overdosed and died. Sitting in solitary confinement alone, Ryan got the horrible news one prays to never hear. Ryan was allowed one to two hours of time with his brother at the funeral home, but he was shackled and alone.”


When Ryan got out, he started drinking heavily every day. He suffered from depression and anxiety and struggled to mourn the loss of his brother. He soon began drugs again. He tried to hide it from Anne, but she knew and their relationship became rocky. Despite the strain, they remained close.

“… I refused to give up on him because I knew behind this person who was addicted to drugs was an amazing man who wanted nothing more than to get sober and live a happy life. It broke my heart to see him suffer in so much pain, day in and day out, and no matter how hard I tried there was nothing I could do to take that pain away from him.”


Ryan continued to struggle with drugs, but Anne never ended their relationship. A recovering addict herself, Anne acknowledged it was tough at times to live with and be in love with someone who couldn’t stop using. She refused to give up on him.

Ryan spent time in and out of jail and prison. He tried numerous treatment programs, but they didn’t address all the underlying problems that contributed to his addiction. On Nov. 28, Ryan was out with friends when he took heroin that Anne believes was laced with fentanyl or carfentanil, two powerful synthetic opioids.

“Ryan called me at 1:26 a.m. and said his last words to me: ‘I’m on my way home, I love you baby, see you soon.’ He was brought home almost dead, barely breathing. His buddy thought he had merely passed out.”


Anne tried everything she could to revive Ryan, but it didn’t work. Paramedics took him to a hospital, where after a heart attack he was put on a ventilator with little brain activity. He died a few days later after being taken off life support.

“After that moment my life became a terrifying nightmare as I sat there and watched the love of my life die and there wasn’t anything I could do.

“Ryan’s life purpose was, through his death, to save others. By sharing his story I hope it touches the lives of addicts and that they seek the help needed so that another family doesn’t have to go through the horrifying pain our family is going through. You may be gone, but you will never be forgotten.”





Opioid Addiction Crisis Is Targeted From Multiple Angles

Posted on: February 19th, 2018 by sobrietyresources

When someone faces addiction, it affects every member of their family.

Feb. 18, 2018, at 12:02 a.m.

By NICK WATSON, The Times of Gainesville

GAINESVILLE, Ga. (AP) — When someone faces addiction, it affects every member of their family.

The addiction is a lifelong struggle. And when the addiction ends a life, the darkness of grief can seem never ending.

Cindy Gay said there is light after the darkness.

Five years have passed since her son Jeffrey, 21, died of an overdose.

She believes awareness of substance use disorders has increased since then.

“I think we have to talk about it and bring it out and not stay silent because of shame and guilt and whatnot,” she said. “I think it’s important to share your experience.”

Beth French lost her son, Joe, to an accidental heroin overdose.

For months afterward, she pored over old pictures, messages and signs she said she believes she missed.

A burnt spoon in the background of a photo. Complaints of constipation. Isolation from friends and family.

French’s youngest son was an athlete loved by many, a sensitive man who once gave a homeless man his grandfather’s coat to stay warm.

Following his death June 24 at age 32, French eventually sought a grief counselor who encouraged her to put her feelings on paper.

“As I looked back on Joe, my unawareness, my building walls of denial, Joe’s slide into addiction, I saw that I really did the best I could at the time. I tried my best to be a loving mother to both of my boys. I tried to guide them to their strengths, to pick my battles with them through the hard teen years — I did my best,” French wrote in her letter.

Gay, French and other parents have organized a peer support group for parents that will hold its inaugural meeting Tuesday night at the Gainesville First United Methodist Church.

“As the years have gone, I’ve seen just a growing need for support not just for parents who have lost a child to addiction but also parents who are struggling with a child with addiction and drug use,” Gay said.

French said her goal is to raise awareness and tell parents about the warning signs.

“I think I’ve come a long way. I hope to get much more along that path. I will learn how to carry the pain instead of laying in bed all day, and I’ll be able to help other people,” she said.

Many throughout the state are trying to raise awareness of the growing opioid problem.

A Commission on Children’s Mental Health recommended “multi-pronged early intervention and prevention approaches to combat the opioid crisis,” according to a report prepared for Gov. Nathan Deal and released in December.

The Georgia Senate passed a bill that would create greater protections for consumers and advance research and educational pursuits targeting addiction.

One portion of the opioid bill would create a “director of substance abuse, addiction and related disorders” who would be appointed by the governor to oversee a 15-member commission on substance abuse and recovery.

The commission’s tasks would include coordinating overdose data, consulting with other state agencies, providing recommendations on a potential Medicaid waiver for opioid abuse, creating a block grant program, developing education plans and expanding access to “appropriate prevention, treatment and recovery support services.”

Another section would increase penalties for people offering kickbacks between health care providers and treatment centers, referred to as “patient brokers.”

Deb Bailey, executive director of governmental affairs at Northeast Georgia Health System, said the hospital first made changes in 2012 regarding prescription painkillers in the emergency room.

“In 2012, we were the first in the state to decide that a three-day supply was what we would prescribe, which would be enough to get the patient that truly was in acute pain to the physician but those that were addicted couldn’t shop emergency rooms,” she said.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1 in 5 patients given a 10-day opioid prescription will still be using the drug a year later.

French said her son was given opioids for pain relief after wisdom teeth surgery, a broken arm and a knee surgery early in his life. She said he used drugs like Oxycontin to cope when he became an adult.

Through the Partnership for a Drug Free Hall, Bailey said the hospital and others are working to educate parents about pill drop-off boxes and limiting access to the medications. The partnership is a collective of civic, religious and law enforcement groups working together to address the opioid epidemic.

“(People) are so very surprised that when someone comes into their house … they are now looking for those drugs, especially the youth. We hope we’ve had a significant impact on just the availability from that perspective,” Bailey said.

When a teenager is brought in for a procedure that may involve opioid painkillers, doctors will inform families about the risk and how to use them carefully if needed.

“We’ve tried to help people understand that they do have a choice in how much pain medication that they are taking, and how we have been misled by the pharmaceutical companies on the addiction qualities of these drugs,” Bailey said.

Bailey said they will soon host a youth summit for 100 sixth-graders to become a countywide youth leadership group on substance abuse.

“As they move through their middle and high school years, the goal is that they are the voice for the youth in addressing substances and misuse among their peers,” she said.

Cindy Gay’s father-in-law, Dallas Gay, has championed the partnership and has organized two forums at the Brenau Downtown Center in recent months. The forums are part of the “Not My Family” series, providing a space for people in the community to share their experiences and insights on addiction.

Cindy Gay hopes the new peer support group will provide a similar outlet for parents.

She said she hopes the meetings become a “source of strength and comfort and hope.”

“As a parent, you can be in denial. You can lose hope,” she said.

The meetings will be run by the group, and licensed health clinicians will sit in to help if there are topics the group wants to learn more about.

“There won’t be a real strict format. It will be equal time for sharing, and again, led by the parents themselves,” she said. “If there’s a topic of concern that we’re struggling with, we can have that at the meeting.”

Gay said it would have helped “had somebody offered me, not necessarily from a counselor’s or psychiatrist’s point of view, but just parents who have gone through the same thing and resources, things to look for.”

Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Lawmakers press health chief to OK cannabis for treatment of opioid addiction

Posted on: February 15th, 2018 by sobrietyresources

By Daniel J. Chacón | The New Mexican, Feb 12, 2018 Updated 12 hrs ago


New Mexico lawmakers injected a dose of political pressure Monday into an unwavering but so far unsuccessful effort to add opioid use disorder to the list of qualifying conditions for medical cannabis in New Mexico.

State Sen. Jeff Steinborn and Rep. Joanne Ferrary, both Democrats from Las Cruces, held a news conference at the Roundhouse to bring attention to companion memorials they are sponsoring, calling on Department of Health Secretary Lynn Gallagher to allow people with opioid dependence to obtain medical marijuana to help them break the chains of their addiction.

“It is past time that this secretary do this,” Steinborn said. “People are dying every day in the state of New Mexico from opioid abuse, and medical marijuana has proven to be a safer treatment for any underlying conditions and certainly, hopefully, to step people down from opioid addiction into something safer that won’t kill them.”

Twice, the state Medical Cannabis Program’s advisory board has recommended medical marijuana be allowed as a treatment for opioid addiction.

Gallagher, however, has the final say.

Gallagher, who is married to Santa Fe’s former police chief, rejected the board’s initial recommendation last year, saying she could not say “with confidence that the use of cannabis for treatment of opioid dependence and its symptoms would be either safe or effective.”

The advisory board heard another petition in November and once again recommended adding opioid use disorder to the list of qualifying conditions. But Gallagher has yet to make a decision on the board’s most recent recommendation, which was unanimous.

“The Secretary is awaiting their written recommendation from that hearing, at which time she will review the scientific evidence presented and make a decision,” department spokesman Paul Rhien said in an email.

Steinborn and others said Gallagher should take action right away, saying more delays could cost lives.

“The reality is, more people will unnecessarily die that could’ve benefited from this, and whether it’s one New Mexican out there or countless scores of New Mexicans that will benefit from this over time, this is about saving lives,” Steinborn said. “There are patients out there who can benefit from this and need this alternative today.”

The memorials, which have no force of law but are an expression of sentiment, already have cleared a number of committees. But with the 30-day legislative session ending Thursday, time is running out.

“We have limited time left in the session; that’s really the challenge to getting bills [and memorials] passed in these final few days,” Steinborn said. “We’re certainly raising our call to get the [memorials] passed, but more important, to urge the secretary to act today, not to let another day go by without approving this.”

Anita Briscoe, a psychiatric nurse practitioner from Española who has been leading the push to add opioid use disorder to the medical cannabis program, said research shows medical cannabis helps people get past their opioid dependence.

Cannabis helps reduce withdrawal symptoms, such as nausea and insomnia, and people receiving medication for opioid use disorder have better treatment outcomes when they’re also using medical cannabis, according to the Drug Policy Alliance, a national nonprofit group seeking reforms of drug laws.

“In my first petition, I was able to come up with a 21-page bibliography of research that had been done, and for the 2017 version, I was able to come up with an additional five pages of solid, hard-core, science-based research,” Briscoe said.

Briscoe said she saw the results firsthand when she was doing medical cannabis referrals in 2016.

“People were coming back to me a year later to renew their license, and they were saying, ‘Oh, by the way, I was able to kick heroin,” she said. “I started collecting data, and I started asking my colleagues as well, ‘Are you seeing this as well?’ They said, ‘Indeed, we are.’ ”

For Briscoe, the push to add opioid use disorder to the list of qualifying conditions for medical cannabis is personal.

“I’m from Española, New Mexico. I was born and raised there,” she said. “I know that West Virginia now has the No. 1 problem with opiate use disorder, as well as Ohio. But for literally decades, if not generations, Española has had that problem. We just never have been in the limelight like other states have. I have grown up seeing Española ravaged by heroin.”



Why the Disease Definition of Addiction Does Far More Harm Than Good

Posted on: February 9th, 2018 by sobrietyresources

Among other problems, it has obstructed other channels of investigation, including the social, psychological and societal roots of addiction


By Marc Lewis on February 9, 2018


Over the past year and a half, Scientific American has published a number of fine articles arguing that addiction is not a disease, that drugs are not the cause of addiction, and that social and societal factors are fundamental contributors to opioid addiction in general and the overdose crisis in particular. The dominant view, that addiction is a disease resulting from drug use, is gradually being eroded by these and other incisive critiques. Yet the disease model and its corollaries still prevail in the domains of research, policy setting, knowledge dissemination and treatment delivery, more in the United States than in any other country in the developed world. You might wonder: what are we waiting for?

The disease model remains dominant in the U.S. because of its stakeholders. First, the rehab industry, worth an estimated $35 billion per year, uses the disease nomenclature in a vast majority of its ads and slogans. Despite consistently low success rates, that’s not likely to stop because it pulls in the cash. Second, as long as addiction is labeled a disease, medical insurance providers can be required to pay for it.

Of course they do so as cheaply as possible, to the detriment of service quality, but they at least save governments the true costs of dealing with addiction through education, social support, employment initiatives and anti-poverty mechanisms. Third, the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), a part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) that funds roughly 90 percent of addiction research worldwide, is a medically oriented funder and policy setter, as are the American Society of Addiction Medicine and other similar bodies.

For these organizations to confess that addiction isn’t really a disease would be tantamount to admitting that they’re in no position to tackle it, which would be a form of institutional suicide. And finally, there are the families of addicts, many of whom welcome the idea that addiction is a disease because that implies that their loved ones are not bad people after all. More on that shortly.

My own role in the controversy has been to keep up a spate of arguments against the disease model of addiction, in books, the press and online, mostly on scientific grounds. As a neuroscientist, I’m able to show why brain change—either in general or specifically in the striatum, the motivational core—does not equal pathology or disease. And as a developmental psychologist (my other hat), I highlight the role of learning in brain change (or neuroplasticity) and reinterpret NIDA’s findings in terms of deeply ingrained habits of thought and action. Both arguments are presented in some detail here.

But why does the definition of addiction matter? Isn’t this just a word game?

Definitions point us to strategies of investigation, including formal research, survey research, case studies and so forth. If addiction is a disease, then we should be looking at cellular mechanisms, MRI scans and other brain-recording techniques, and this is exactly the policy NIDA has followed for years. In fact, it’s the policy the NIH has implemented in its approach to all psychiatric and psychological problems. Roughly 10 years ago, NIH grant applicants were informed that they’d better include neuroscientific methods in their proposals if they wanted any money.

Not that I have anything against neuroscience, which was the main focus of my research career for years. But researchers who aren’t into neuroscience have been ignored, and that’s not a good thing. As recently captured by Eiko Fried, “despite many decades of considerable research efforts into uncovering underlying biological mechanisms, we have not identified specific and reliable markers for many of the most prevalent mental disorders.”

So, the current trend of labeling psychiatric problems brain problems has not panned out, and it has obstructed other channels of investigation that could be hugely valuable. This has been particularly unfortunate for addiction researchers who want to investigate the social, psychological and societal roots of addiction. Despite clear signposts pointing to the importance of these determinants, such research goes unfunded, or grossly underfunded, and we remain that much further from a comprehensive understanding.

Definitions not only direct strategies for knowledge acquisition; they are also rich with implications and connotations. As I mentioned, families of addicts (as well as some proportion of addicts themselves) welcome the disease definition because it seems to absolve addicts of blame. Indeed, NIDA has consistently promoted the disease definition as a boon to addicts who have historically been depicted as morally deficient. If they have a disease, their addictive behaviors are not their fault and they should not be stigmatized. Everyone knows that shame, alienation and punishment aggravate the need for relief, which often amounts to further drug use. So, it’s important to ask whether the disease label has successfully reduced stigmatization.

In fact, the disease definition replaces one kind of stigmatization for another. The antipsychiatry movement has long argued that the language of “mental illness” hurts more than helps those with emotional problems, because it fuels discrimination and alienation. If addiction is a disease, then addicts are, by definition, mentally ill. And indeed, scholars of addiction point out that the disease definition promotes a divide between “us” and “them.” In contrast, a more humanistic way of conceptualizing addiction highlights connection with others as a crucial component of recovery.

So, the “disease” stigma can be lethal. In fact, the moral stigma of addiction can be reversed by abstinence or at least controlled use, which shows you have overcome your problem one way or another. The stigma of having had the disease of addiction implies that you are not to be trusted, now or ever. Unfortunately, this ethos still justifies the way governmental benefits, medical benefits and employment opportunities are often withheld from anyone who has ever been labeled an addict.

Viewing addiction as pathology has other, more direct detriments. If you feel that your addiction results from an underlying pathology, as implied by the brain disease model, and if that pathology is chronic, as highlighted by both NIDA and the 12-step movement, then you are less likely to believe that you will ever be free of it or that recovery can result from your own efforts. This characterization of addiction flies in the face of research indicating that a great majority of those addicted to any substance or behavior do in fact recover, and most of those who recover do so without professional care.

It also counters many addicts’ perception that, once they have outgrown their addiction, they are free of it, and they no longer have to identify themselves as “in recovery” or, in more conventional medical terms, temporarily in remission. As concluded by a recent meta-analysis,“biogenetic explanations for psychological problems induce prognostic pessimism and negative stereotyping regarding dangerousness.” In other words, both addicts’ own faith in their recovery and the confidence of those around them are hampered by the disease definition.

It is important to recognize that drug dependence is a medical matter, as emphasized by Maia Szalavitz in Scientific American and elsewhere. But most addictions do not induce drug dependence, while many prescribed medications do. Thus, withdrawal from (or maintenance on) antidepressants, beta blockers and opiates requires medical attention. Quitting cocaine, meth, porn, gambling, and overeating does not.

If we stop confusing addiction with pathology, then we can focus much more clearly on the specific needs of specific individuals. That seems a huge advantage over dumping everyone in a basket that fits almost no one.




Before recovering from my drug addiction, I first had to accept it

Posted on: February 6th, 2018 by sobrietyresources

Posted February 4 at 12:37 PM: Updated February 5

Accepting the reality of my addiction doesn’t mean I’m resigned to it. It means I let go of what’s outside my control.

A few years before finally finding real sobriety and recovery, I made several attempts to stop using drugs and alcohol. During one struggle, mostly trying to save my failing marriage, I made a pledge to stay completely abstinent from all drugs and alcohol.

Even to my closest friends, I couldn’t be honest about why I suddenly decided to avoid alcohol. I would dodge their questions or pass it off as an attempt to get into peak physical shape: “You know—for Crossfit and stuff.” That wasn’t a complete lie, as I had recently taken a genuine interest in Crossfit and even started training for a local competition.

My abstinence from alcohol lasted far longer than my almost non-existent abstinence from other drugs. I did somehow manage to enter—and win—that local Crossfit competition. I showed up the morning of the event wearing my wrist wraps, not because I needed them for support, but because I was hiding the track marks left behind from injecting heroin. Unbeknownst to my workout partner, I wouldn’t have even been able to get out of bed had I not used heroin earlier that morning.


I was maintaining a strict diet and exercise routine while simultaneously hiding in bathroom stalls to inject myself with poison. This shows the insanity of my disease—wholly irrational and hard to understand unless you’ve experienced it.

After nearly a decade of substance use, I had managed to normalize this daily chaos. It was like being afraid of the dark as a kid, cowering under your blankets in a pitch-black room. You know where the light switch is, but you’re terrified to step off your bed, exposing yourself while you walk towards it.

I was stuck, desperately wanting to stop using drugs. The idea of accepting that I was addicted to drugs, and even more so asking for help, was terrifying. Instead, I risked my own life on a daily basis and consistently burned down everything around me. I wanted to live on my own terms–fiercely grasping for control of my circumstances and the things that happened to me.

Accepting everything exactly as it comes

German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche famously said: “My formula for greatness in a human being is Amor fati: that one wants nothing to be different, not forward, not backward, not in all eternity. Not merely bear what is necessary, still less conceal it… but love it.”

This philosophy challenges us not to wish for things to have happened differently, but wish for them to arrive precisely as they have. Your circumstances don’t care how you feel about them, so you might as well learn to accept and love them exactly as they are. Only then can you find true serenity and happiness in your life.

For years, I exhausted my energy on wishing specific events never happened, or that they had happened differently. I wished that I could prevent my wife from leaving me, or that I could have somehow convinced my father not to drink himself death. I didn’t want to be addicted to heroin or to identify as a person in recovery, and I fought it viciously, nearly choosing death over stigma.

My life was completely unmanageable, but I refused to accept having a substance use disorder. I fought the fact that I was suffering from a disease that needed not only abstinence from drugs and alcohol but consistent and life-long treatment.

Controlling what you can and leaving the rest

There is a common saying found in several twelve-step programs of recovery: “Let go, let God.” To me, this idea is less about recognizing that there is a God-like power who controls the movement of the universe, and more about merely acknowledging that I am not that power myself. I was not only addicted to drugs and alcohol, I was also addicted to control. I wanted to control everything and everyone around me and allowed the actions of others to affect my well-being.

Ancient Stoic philosophers had a metaphor that I think helps explain this idea of complete acceptance. They said that we are like a dog tied to a moving cart. We have two choices. We can dig our heels into the ground, foolishly fighting against the direction of the cart and being forcibly dragged along. Or we can go with the cart, enjoying the walk.

Both dogs are in the same situation, but only one of them is enjoying the journey by recognizing which things he can’t control. Unless I wanted to get continually dragged along, I needed to focus on only the things that were actually in my control, and most importantly, know what those things were.

The fact is, I can’t control any of the things that have happened to me, or prevent more obstacles from being placed in my way. The only thing I have complete control over is my reaction to these things, and how I choose to act in each present moment. Like that dog tied to a cart, I can either accept certain things and take my freedoms where they come or fight against things out of my control and get dragged through the dirt.

sobriety resources banner

Accepting is not the same as giving up

It’s essential for me to remember that accepting my circumstances does not mean that I’m giving up.  Acceptance is not resignation. Although I may not be able to control everything about my current conditions, my actions today will shape my future.

Although I never wanted to be addicted to drugs, that’s where I ended up. Accepting and even loving my fate of being in that situation, doesn’t mean that I wanted it or like it, just that I can recognize that it’s in my interest to accept it and make the best of it.

Without accepting and embracing my substance use disorder, I wouldn’t be able to share my recovery journey with you today. I’m grateful to not only be abstinent from drugs and alcohol, but also for the ability to live honestly and free of shame while I treat my disease.

It may seem unnatural for me to be grateful for my addiction to drugs and alcohol, to love something that I never wanted in the first place. Throughout my life, I’ve learned that many of the worst things to happen to me have later revealed themselves as being the most significant gifts—but only if I accept them and allow myself to learn from them.




Report: ‘Dr. Phil’ Show Gave Drugs, Alcohol To Guests With Addictions

Posted on: December 29th, 2017 by sobrietyresources

“Survivor” winner Todd Herzog, an alcoholic, says staffers left vodka in his dressing room and gave him Xanax.


By Sara Boboltz 2/28/2017 06:56 pm ET Updated Dec 29, 2017



Guests on the “Dr. Phil” show who struggle with addiction have been supplied with drugs and alcohol before appearing on set for taping, according to a joint investigation between Stat and The Boston Globe published Thursday.

In one shocking example, “Survivor: China” winner Todd Herzog told reporters he appeared on the program drunk as he was dealing with alcoholism in 2013. Herzog said he found a liter of Smirnoff vodka in his dressing room, which he consumed, and was later handed a Xanax pill by a staffer to “calm his nerves.”

The show, hosted by the no-nonsense Southerner Phil McGraw, has been on-air since 2002, but McGraw gained a following with appearances on “The Oprah Winfrey Show” before then.

During the episode with Herzog, who had to be assisted onstage, McGraw said he had “never talked to a guest who was closer to death.”

A family member of another guest told reporters their relative “bought heroin with the knowledge and support of show staff” before a taping. The report also states that “Dr. Phil” staff filmed another guest, who was pregnant, searching for a dealer on Los Angeles’ skid row.

Reporters note that the alleged actions of staffers can make for “riveting” television, but the show’s guests, who stay in hotels up to 48 hours before taping an episode, can experience a possibly dangerous withdrawal period during that time.

In a statement published online Friday, a spokesperson for the “Dr. Phil” show slammed the story as “unsubstantiated.”

“The STAT article does not fairly or accurately describe the methods of the ‘Dr. Phil’ show or its mission to educate millions of viewers about drug and alcohol addiction,” the statement read. “The show does not give drugs or alcohol to its guests and any suggestions to the contrary are errant nonsense.”

A psychologist who works for the show, Martin Greenberg, also denied the claims in the original report. In a statement provided to Stat and the Globe, he said that “addicts are notorious for lying, deflecting and trivializing.”

“But, if they are at risk when they arrive, then they were at risk before they arrived,” the statement continued. “The only change is they are one step closer to getting help, typically help they could not have even come close to affording.” Guests dealing with addiction are typically helped with referrals to treatment facilities.

According to the report, a mutually beneficial relationship between the “Dr. Phil” show and McGraw’s own business interests — namely a digital treatment program available for purchase by treatment facilities — may have contributed to the alleged abuse.

McGraw holds a doctorate in psychology but let his license to practice expire more than a decade ago. Over his television career, he’s faced criticisms and lawsuits for his approach to mental health, which the National Alliance on Mental Illness once called “serious enough to warrant investigation by a relevant board of licensure,” following a 2004 segment in which he diagnosed a 9-year-old boy as a potential killer.

The syndicated show is popular with women ages 25 to 54, a key daytime TV advertising demographic.

HuffPost reached out to a representative for McGraw but did not immediately receive a response.

This story has been updated with comment from a “Dr. Phil” spokesperson.




Governor Cuomo Launches Campaign to Warn New Yorkers About Fraudulent

Posted on: December 27th, 2017 by sobrietyresources

DECEMBER 27, 2017

Albany, NY

Campaign Encourages People to Report Patient Brokers Who Take Advantage of Those Seeking Treatment For Substance Use Disorders

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced a new public awareness campaign to crack down on “patient brokering,” a practice where brokers collect payments from addiction treatment providers in exchange for referring patients to those programs. The campaign warns New Yorkers about the fraudulent practice and urges that these brokers be reported.

“Vulnerable New Yorkers struggling with addiction are being targeted and falsely promised life-saving treatment services and then are given inadequate and ineffective treatment at outrageous costs,” Governor Cuomo said. “With this campaign, we make it clear that this reprehensible practice will not be tolerated in New York and will help ensure that people receive the appropriate assistance they need to reclaim their lives.”

The campaign was developed through a collaboration between OASAS and the New York Association of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Providers and features posters encouraging people to report patient brokering activities to OASAS. The posters are available for download here and will also be emailed out to treatment providers across the state.

This awareness campaign is one of several initiatives aimed at stopping patient brokering. OASAS recently issued a directive that requires referrals to be delivered by OASAS-certified and -credentialed professionals, who are prohibited from receiving referral fees. New Yorkers can report suspicious activity by calling 1-800-553-5790 or emailing [email protected].

OASAS Commissioner Arlene González-Sánchez said, “Making the decision to seek treatment is a critical first step for many people with substance use disorders and their families. Their bravery needs to be rewarded with the services that can best help them get on the road to recovery.”

New Yorkers struggling with an addiction, or whose loved ones are struggling, can find help and hope by calling the state’s toll-free, 24-hour, 7-day-a-week HOPEline at 1-877-8-HOPENY (1-877-846-7369) or by texting HOPENY (Short Code 467369).

Available addiction treatment including crisis/detox, inpatient, community residence, or outpatient care can be found using the NYS OASAS Treatment Availability Dashboard at or through the NYS OASAS websiteVisit to learn more about the warning signs of addiction, review information on how to get help, and access resources on how to facilitate conversations with loved ones and communities about addiction. For tools to use in talking to a young person about preventing alcohol or drug use, visit the State’s Talk2Prevent website.




Fergie reveals past crystal meth addiction caused hallucinations ‘on a daily basis’

Posted on: December 12th, 2017 by sobrietyresources



Thursday, December 7, 2017, 7:40 AM


Fergie is coming clean about the lowest point of her life — a crystal meth addiction.

The Black Eye Peas star struggled with an addiction to the drug prior to her time in the group, she told iNews in an interview published Thursday.

“At my lowest point, I was (suffering from) chemically induced psychosis and dementia,” she told the British news publication. “I was hallucinating on a daily basis. It took a year after getting off that drug for the chemicals in my brain to settle so that I stopped seeing things.”

The singer was addicted to the dangerous substance while part of the group Wild Orchid, and she remained addicted even after she left the group in 2001.

“The drugs thing, it was a hell of a lot of fun… until it wasn’t,” she recalled of her years as an addict. “But you know what, I thank the day it happened to me. Because that’s my strength, my faith, my hope for something better.”

Fergie, 42, explained that during the height of her crystal meth habit, she was convinced the CIA, FBI and SWAT teams were following her. Those hallucinations led her to freak out in a church, believing they were after her.

“They tried to kick me out, because I was moving down the aisles in this crazy way, as I thought there was an infrared camera in the church trying to check for my body,” she recalled.

“I bolted past the altar into the hallway and two people were chasing me. I remember thinking if I walk outside, and the SWAT team’s out there, I was right all along. But if they’re not out there, then it’s the drugs making me see things and I’m going to end up in an institution.”

The mother of one said she found the moment in the parking lot to be “freeing.”

Crystal meth is a methamphetamine that affects the central nervous system and has no legal use, according to WebMD. Some of the main short-term side effects include hallucinations, bizarre and erratic behavior, panic and psychosis among others.

Fergie, whose real name is Stacy Ann Ferguson, has said hypnotherapy assisted in her overcoming the addiction and continues to help her relax. She’s now been clean for 18 years.

Fergie announced in September that she and husband Josh Duhamel, who she married in 2009, separated earlier this year.

“Both Josh and I are working full-time right now. It gets tough and we get tired, but we’re trying our hardest to make sure that kid feels nothing but love,” Fergie said of their 4-year-old son Axl.

“There’s a lot going on. That’s why we wanted to find our footing with our separation before we announced it publicly, to make sure we really got it together for our kid. It’s a constant juggling act,” she continued to iNews.

The singer is now on the road promoting her new album “Double Duchess,” which debuted in September.





The Stigma of Addiction Is More Dangerous Than Drug Overdoses

Posted on: December 12th, 2017 by sobrietyresources

People in recovery aren’t feeding the stigma. It comes from people who don’t understand addiction.
07/14/2017 12:24 pm ET Updated Jul 14, 2017
Warning: graphic material

There’s this look people get when I tell them I’m a heroin addict. It’s a blank, panicked stare. As though I’d delivered some fatal news. It’s Stage Four, I may as well say. We don’t know how long I’ve got left.
Because when I say I’m an alcoholic and a heroin addict, what they think I mean is that I’m dying. That I have this illness, this deadly illness that is actually killing one person in this country every four minutes, one person who has no idea what they’re in for, and that I am doomed, with a mark on me. The word addiction is not a disorder, to them. It’s a death sentence. It is shorthand for tragedy.
Never mind that I’ve been sober and in recovery for more than 10 years. That doesn’t matter, to the people who don’t know how this disease really works. They expect me to be ashamed of myself. To them, addiction is code for Kurt Cobain, Courtney Love, grunge, needles, misery. They assume that I shot up. I must have stolen and lied, to pay for my habit. I must be a criminal. Maybe I am morally infirm as well.
I will say this: my addiction has guaranteed me a life that is never going to be boring.

I started drinking when I was 13, swallowing what was left in the wine glasses after dinner. I drank alone, because I was rarely invited to parties. I was sensitive to the cool, dark river than ran just under the surface of my life, its purple currents always tugging at me, urging me to take the plunge. When I finally did, I was relieved at what drugs and alcohol did for me. Suddenly, my life made sense. Everything clicked into place — I knew who I was. I dove into my drug use, not looking back at the shore until I was far beyond reach.
I didn’t realize how deep my addiction was until I tried to stop using. The first time, I lasted a couple of days, and then relapsed. That night, head bobbing, sick, I sat on the porch smoking a cigarette. I was crying. I hadn’t meant to use, and I didn’t want to be high. I lowered its burning cherry to my knee and brushed its burning tip to my skin. The pain seared through my leg, but I continued. My hand was steady. Negative reinforcement. That will make me not do this again. I still have a perfectly round scar on the spot where I finally extinguished it.
I took a week off after that, and then overdosed in my bedroom. I remember lying there, the rolled up dollar bill and trace of powder on the mirror by my bed. My eyes were glued to the clock. The red minute hand agitated across its face, shivering each time it clicked into place. Tick. Tick. I wanted to be conscious, but my heartbeat slowed, and slowed, and the muscle in my chest felt as though it was being buried under a pile of stones. I remember the moment that it stopped beating.
I must be dead, I thought. I waited.
When I came to, the first thing I heard was the sound of beating wings, as though an angel stood in each corner of the room. It was the sound of my heart, spontaneously beginning to beat again. I was soaked in sweat and vomit. My face was streaked with blood, thin, iron poor blood as pink as a rabbit’s nose. I had a pulse. Erratic. I rolled onto my side. This time, I was going to stop. I knew I was lucky to be alive. I knew that what I’d just experienced was a miracle, a one-time act of mercy. The cheap substance cut into the dope I’d snorted chased around my nervous system, making my muscles spasm. I was thirsty. My eyes hurt. I stayed where I was, promising whatever God had spared me that I was finally going to clean up my act.
It wasn’t that easy. I kept using. Was I a tragic figure? I liked to think so. I was too thin, pale, and erratic. I saw myself as an artiste, the kind of person who dies with a trunk full of unpublished stories and is discovered as their generation’s great genius. In reality, I wrote massive quantities of trash. I was talented but undisciplined. And young, too. I was 23 when I got sober, which felt like years too late.
Leaving my addiction behind was not easy. Life without drugs and alcohol was, at first, even harder than life getting loaded every day. It seemed like every movie, song, and short story somehow glorified the misery of heroin or alcohol abuse. I was tired of reading work by drunk, entitled writers; I was tired of celebrity obituaries that listed the deadly cocktail the autopsy found in their blood. I was tired of the loud gay bars, the screaming girls taking shots, the way that alcohol was weirdly everywhere. I just wanted to live my life. I didn’t need anyone to tell me who I was.

There is a stigma attached to addiction which can be deadly. But it’s not my stigma — I stopped carrying that shame and embarrassment around years ago, if I ever felt it at all. I experience this stigma when I share my identity with people who aren’t addicts, who don’t know someone in recovery, or who hold onto the idea that people like me are somehow second class citizens.
It’s not my stigma. It’s yours. And your ignorance and fear is a much greater risk to me than a relapse. Your problem with addiction is much more likely to kill me than my problem with it. It’s time to change the story about substance use disorder, and that doesn’t necessarily start with me. It starts with the story you’re telling yourself about me.
Less than 10% of people like me end up asking for treatment, or medical help of any kind, for their substance problems. Less than 10%. That’s not because we don’t want help. It’s because, in this culture, merely admitting that you need help means wearing a scarlet A on your chest for the rest of your life. A is for Addict. A is for Alcoholic. People like me often barely survive this disease, only to be treated to a lifetime of unequal treatment, unkindness, prejudice, and discrimination.
If I am honest about my addiction, I could lose my job, my home, and custody of my child. I could be denied medical care. I could be treated like a criminal, even though I haven’t broken any laws. If these things happen to me, the stigma surrounding my illness means I’ll be told that I deserve to be treated this way. After all, I’m an addict. All my problems must be of my own making.
If that’s the case, why come out at all? I’m not exaggerating when I say that we’d rather die. It’s common for people like me to struggle to get sober. We might share our secret with one or two trusted friends, or in a closed Facebook group. Instead of asking for help, we stay as isolated as we were when we were using. We’re vulnerable. We’re alone. If we pick up again, it’s as though that brief period of sobriety never happened. Maybe the people who knew are disappointed — but so what? Everyone else still thinks we’re losers. We go back to being exactly what you told us we were.

The only thing I can do to change your misconceptions about me is keep showing up, and showing myself. My addiction is something I cope with, daily. I make my choices with this in mind. I know I’m in remission: I’m not cured. I do what I can to make sure I stay healthy.
Do I look like a ticking time bomb? I do not. I look healthy, whole, and strong, because I am. I’m a good citizen. I’m not a criminal, a bad parent, a lazy tenant, or an irresponsible employee. I vote. I pay my taxes. I don’t start shit. You can’t say that about a lot of people, whether they’re in recovery or not. Some of the worst people I know have no mental health issues of any kind.
I’ve stopped listening to people who tell me to be quiet about my illness. What’s the point of being ashamed about something that is part of me? I can’t change the color of my eyes or the shade of my skin, and I can’t magically make my addiction disappear. Even after a long period of recovery, I’m still a person who has this disorder. I may as well be living with diabetes, HIV, cancer, asthma, multiple sclerosis, or any other chronic, relapsing illness. Yet, I’m not treated with the same dignity and compassion as people who cope with those diseases. Why?
If you wouldn’t shame me for my sexuality, race, gender, class, level of education, or faith, then don’t shame me for my addiction, either.
Addiction is neither a curse, nor a blessing. It is simply a fact for me. I don’t take my recovery for granted. I do what I need to do to ensure that it’s there when I wake up tomorrow morning.
The fact is, I died in my bedroom years ago. I’m convinced that everything I’ve experienced since then, including getting sober and learning to stay that way, is the afterlife. If this is Heaven, it’s a weird one, but then — I’m a weird person.
Or maybe you are the weirdo, in your obstinate belief that something is wrong with me and that I am less equal or deserving than you.
Nothing is wrong with me except your story about me. The next time I say, I’m a heroin addict, please try to listen without flinching. Look at me instead. Do you see me? Or do your fears erase me, turn me into a junkie?
If we’re going to heal this stigma, I don’t need to know what you think of me. I need you to know what I think of me. I want you to see what I see when I look at myself. I see a person. An interesting one. Not sick, and not stigmatized. Not even needing your pity. Just surviving — and lucky, to be telling my own story instead of being part of yours.
Need help with substance abuse or mental health issues? In the U.S., call 800-662-HELP (4357) for the SAMHSA National Helpline.

Eric Clapton Talks Addiction, Cream’s Brilliance, the Future of the Guitar

Posted on: December 8th, 2017 by sobrietyresources

The guitar icon looks back on his turbulent history, as chronicled in new doc ‘Life in 12 Bars,’ and ahead to what’s next


By David Fricke December 4, 2017


Directed by Lili Fini Zanuck, Life in 12 Bars also has extraordinary footage of Clapton onstage with Cream in the Sixties and revealing interviews with the women in his life including his grandmother Rose – who raised him after Clapton’s 16-year-old mother, Patricia, left England with his father, a Canadian airman – and first wife Pattie Boyd, the object of Clapton’s romantic obsession on 1970’s Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs. The film is unflinching, too, about the deep blues inside those he sang, with painfully frank sequences on Clapton’s battles with heroin, alcohol and the accidental 1991 death of his young son Conor, which inspired the Grammy-winning ballad “Tears in Heaven.”There is a remarkable scene early in Eric Clapton: Life in 12 Bars, the new Showtime documentary about the guitarist’s career, that sums up his meteoric rise as a British-blues prodigy and worldwide superstar: Bob Dylan in a London hotel room in 1965 watching John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers on television and raving over that band’s guitarist – Clapton, now 72, then barely out of his teens. “I still can’t believe that’s real,” Clapton says, laughing, in a New York hotel lobby the day after a screening. “I thought, ‘Oh, that must be Photoshop-ed.'”

But Clapton is also facing forward, working on his next studio album. “I’m in the middle of it,” he reveals, noting that “it started with the leftover” from the cache of rare and previously unrecorded demos that formed the basis of his 2014 covers tribute, The Breeze: An Appreciation of JJ Cale. “I still have some JJ songs that we’re playing with. “Sometimes we mix them with dub, sometimes we take it back to pure country.” Clapton is writing new material as well with his studio collaborator and keyboard player Simon Climie.

“And then I’ll do some shows next year,” Clapton declares late in this interview, conducted for the current issue of Rolling Stone and greatly expanded here in depth, range and candor. In fact, two weeks after this conversation, the guitarist announced a huge outdoor show on July 8th with special guests Santana, Steve Winwood and Gary Clark Jr. in London’s Hyde Park – the site of Clapton’s live debut with Blind Faith in 1969. But, he insists, “I don’t see it as touring anymore – just one date at a time.”

You saw the film again yesterday. What is it like to walk through your life like that?
It’s not as bad as the first time I saw it. I was in an editing room. There was one scene that I was really uncertain about, which was the semi-racial thing that went down during my worst period. I made remarks onstage about foreigners [at a show in Birmingham, England in 1976]. Being the drunk that I was, I just went on a rant.

Did you ask Lili to take it out? 
I just have to face the guy that I became when I was fueled on drugs and alcohol. It’s incomprehensible to me, in a way, that I got so far out. And there was no one to challenge me. Because I may have become quite intimidating. People said they couldn’t challenge me because I came back twice as strong.

The only guy who did was my manager [at the time], Roger Forrester. He said to me, “You’ve got a problem.” When I decided he was right, he was the person I called. He packed me up and sent me off to [the rehab facility] Hazelden. When I got to Hazelden, I had to sign this thing saying who is your significant other. Anyone else would have put a family member – or my wife. I was married. But I put him. Because he was the only one who would stand up to me and call me out.

The first part of the film is about how you became a musician. The second is about how music saved you at every turn – from obsession, drugs, alcohol and even the death of your son. When things were at rock bottom, you always had the guitar.
I would add one thing – listening to music became just as important as being able to play. During all of those periods of my life, I found new or old music that helped me, that got me through even when I wasn’t playing well or I wasn’t playing at all. It might be Maria Callas singing or the playing of [Delta bluesman] Tommy McClennan. I remember coming out of the smack period [in the early Seventies] – anything I heard would reduce me to tears, especially if it came from the heart. The music from Carousel still does bring me to tears.

That clip of Dylan watching you on TV with John Mayall is an example of the incredible happenstance in your life. You lived at a historic intersection of cultural forces in the Sixties. And you participated in them, because you actually had the gift.
It was a good time. Lili and I were talking about it again today, about how free that period was in the Sixties and early Seventies. There wasn’t a consciousness about what would be successful or not. It didn’t matter as long as you took a shot at everything and just kept on playing. And if anyone came in, [they could] join in. It was open.

By the time I got to the Nineties, I was really confused about the competitive nature of music. Bands were aggressive to one another, judgmental. You just make records and hope that they do better than the other guy’s records. In that point you’re talking about, anything could happen, and it had nothing to do with success.

The film opens with your video tribute to B.B. King after he died in 2015. It sets a tone too: Many of the faces and voices in the movie – Duane Allman, Cream’s Jack Bruce, George Harrison, your friend and Cream roadie Ben Palmer – are gone.
I don’t want to even think about that. I’m determined to stick around as long as I can. I’m watching everything. I go to the doctor’s at the slightest sign of anything.

How is your health? On the back cover of your last album, I Still Do, there is a photo of you playing guitar with a fingerless glove on your hand.
I had eczema from head to foot. The palms of my hand were coming off, and I had just started making this record with [producer] Glyn Johns. It was a catastrophe. I had to wear mittens with Band-Aids around the hands and played a lot of slide [guitar] as a result.

When I saw you in concert this year, in the spring and fall, there were no gloves.
My hands are good. It hasn’t gone completely, but I put ointment on. It’s just getting old now. I’m as good now as I’ve been in the last two years.

Have you ever considered the possibility that, because of illness or age, you couldn’t play guitar again?
That would be alright. I would accept it. Because playing is difficult anyway. I have to get on the bottom of the ladder every time I play guitar, just to tune it. Then I have to go through the whole threshold of getting calluses [on the fingers] back, coordination.

But the guitar comes up a lot in the film as a place of refuge for you.
I still go there. If there is trouble in the house, which is very rare, I pick up my guitar and remove myself from the situation. I will inevitably play something bland, an exercise. But it will keep me from being engaged in the conflict.

Is that something you recognized as a boy? 
I became acquainted with it pretty quick, because I would go to it immediately. I would always go to that place to find some peace. It would always be a staple for stress.

Yet you did have a thing about attachment – leaving the Yardbirds and Mayall, breaking up Cream and Derek and the Dominos.
Ben [Palmer] says that [in the film] – I could achieve very strong relationships, and the next day I’d be gone. Yeah, that is peculiar. But it was never like that with the music. To this day, I can return to the stuff that I first heard, and it will have the same effect on me that it did then. There is a section of the film where Cream is playing at the Fillmore; we’re playing around Ginger [Baker]’s drum solo …

It was so good. We were playing so well together. And watching that, I thought if only they [Baker and Bruce] could have found a way to resolve their conflict. I was having the time of my life musically. But like Ben said, the bickering was outrageous. I don’t know if you could fairly say which one it was, or if it was my inability to take part. Maybe it wasn’t the same guy all the time.

At least one of you was crazy at some point in the day.
Exactly. But the music was getting so refined that it made it alright.

One of the shots in the film that I like – and it goes by in an instant – is the photo of the Crawdaddy Club in London, where the Yardbirds played. And there are two guys …
Climbing on the ceiling.

It looks like a punk-rock moshpit.
It really was.

People who see you in arenas now might not realize you made your bones in these wild environments.
We were club musicians – low-ceiling places where you’d share a dressing room with the other band. When you came in, they were taking their trousers off. Very tight, small places – that was what I was most comfortable with. Doing arenas – I’m still not used to it. I like to create a little space in front of me where I think I’m playing in a little room.

How do you do that in the Garden?
I look at the exit signs [laughs]. I look somewhere in the back, into the darkness, and I think, “Oh, I’m in the Marquee” or “I’m in the Flamingo Club.”

You also have that open space, when you solo in blues numbers like “Little Queen of Spades,” where you seem most free as a player.
That’s always there for me. I have to maintain that. Any time it gets into set pieces, I don’t really want to be there. It’s another version of “For Your Love” [the Yardbirds’ 1965 pop hit – Clapton played on the record but quit before it came out]. Anytime I can play free, it is in 12 bars. That’s a good title [for the film]. It’s the way I approach everything.

It’s the most difficult thing to write, a modern blues. The only person I know who can do it well is Robert Cray. It comes straight out of him. I saw him recently this year, and he’s still doing it. He’s on fire, the real thing. I wish I could be like that. Really, I’m a musician. I try to be a singer and songwriter, and it’s interesting to me. But I would never think of myself as that. I’m just a blues musician.

Would you consider “Tears in Heaven” a blues? The circumstances would suggest that.
It isn’t. I was trying to write [Jimmy Cliff’s ] “Many Rivers to Cross” or [Bob Marley’s] “No Woman, No Cry.” It’s the same chord progression. I don’t know if I could express what I’m feeling in a blues, because a blues is at a level of anger and self-pity. And this was different.

There is a great B.B. quote in the film in which he describes the way you play a blues solo as “like putting pieces in a puzzle.” 
That’s how I see it. I create a portion of time for a beginning and an end. It has to make sense, make a picture. If left to my own devices in the studio, I will go over and over and over until I think it is as refined as it can be. “Layla” was like that, like building a puzzle.

Is the puzzle ever complete?
It’s never complete. But I remember one night in Philadelphia with Cream. It was near the end of our touring together [in 1968]. We knew it was over. We were just having a good time playing. And I remember thinking “This is as great as it will ever be.” Have I ever been satisfied? Definitely for one night, yeah.

Ed Sheeran has said that you were the reason he started playing guitar. What do you say to younger artists like him about navigating the perils of success?
I don’t think you say anything, to be honest [laughs]. He has asked my advice. And what I’ve said to him is, “Slow down. Don’t burn it all up too fast.” But he seems to be committed to go as far as he can. He wants to conquer the globe. But what do you do then? Where do you go from there? It can’t always be up – for anybody.

How do you look back on your stardom in the Sixties and Seventies? You had pursuit of the music without worrying about the celebrity – as if the work was enough.
We didn’t consider what we were doing as business. I always use Cream as an example. We were just told where to go. We didn’t have time to think about how much money we were making, what was the right strategy, which town you should go to. Now you have guys like Ed who direct and produce their own shows. The music is part of that. But we couldn’t have done it that way then. It would have been a distraction.

What do you do to get away from the business – the distractions from your craft?
I have a business manager who talks to me almost daily about what we should be doing, like how we’re managing Crossroads [Clapton’s addiction treatment center in Antigua]. A lot of the time, I’ve told people to leave me alone, because I need to play. And it isn’t easy. It takes a lot of devotion to get to the point where what I’m playing is presentable.

When I was young, it was easy to get to that place. I had no relationships, no children, no business. I had nothing to worry about but play. Now there are all these things which I’m happy to be responsible for. But it does distract me from what makes it all possible.

We’ve talked before about the future of the guitar. Some people think the instrument has said what it needs to say in the culture, in music. Do you believe it still has a future as an expressive force? And what would you say to a young player looking for an original voice in there, especially going up against icons like yourself, B.B. and Jimi Hendrix?
This is funny, because I’ve had a conversation about this phenomenon just a while ago. In the last few months, I’ve been talking to a guy who doesn’t know where to go next. It was a conversation with a young musician who contacted me through some friends. I could see that he was genuine and I was interested in what he had to offer. Finally we had lunch and he said, “Do you want to listen to something?” It was esoteric and abstract, and I thought, “Where would this go?”

I wanted the guy to be taken somewhere. I could hear that he was in his own head too much, and that can be a cul de sac. There is always something to listen to, to aspire to, with the guitar. It is still the most flexible instrument. You can improvise on it. You have such freedom. I don’t think there is a limit to it.

That is heartening. Because I love guitars – the more, the merrier.
Me too [smiles]. Anyone who talks about it [the guitar as a spent force] should listen to Roebuck Staples [founding guitarist of the Staples Singers]. It is so moving. And that’s in the past. So it’s not about what’s to be. It’s already there. If you can get in touch with that, you can do anything.


Copyright 2017. All Rights Reserved.