Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Good Night Robin Williams

Chris Newcomb, M.Div.

It's a sad day today.  I was at band practice last night when I got a text message announcing the news that comedian and actor Robin Williams had died from an apparent suicide by asphyxia.  There is no word whether drugs and/or alcohol were involved.  The band was shocked and devastated.  Such a tragic loss and waste of a brilliant man with incredible talents.  Gone too soon. 

Thank you Robin Williams for making me laugh (The Birdcage) and cry (Good Will Hunting).  You were a very talented man.  I remember seeing you on TV in the late 1970's as a young boy watching your show 'Mork & Mindy'.  Who knew the great talent that you would display for the world through the years?!?  

As a matter of fact, my father shared one of your jokes with me recently that you told in my home town of Richmond, VA.  You started the show complimenting the Richmond crowd on the beauty of the city.  Specifically, you noted that Monument Avenue was gorgeous and had such an impressive display of 2nd Place Trophies you had ever seen.  Hint:  The South lost the Civil War but Monument Avenue has statues lining it with civil war heroes on the losing side. The joke was offensive to some but hilarious to me.  Of course, everyone knew he was kidding. 

Unfortunately, Mr. Williams had an addiction to cocaine and alcohol.  He quit drinking for 20 years but starting on a 3 year binge back in 2003.  Of cocaine, Robin noted that, "No. Cocaine – paranoid and impotent, what fun. There was no bit of me thinking, ooh, let's go back to that. Useless conversations until midnight, waking up at dawn feeling like a vampire on a day pass. No."  His struggle took him to Hazelden, a premier inpatient facility for treatment in the summer of this year to deal with his alcoholism.  On top of all this, he struggled with depression for most of his life.  

My hope in this tragic situation is that more light on a national, and even international level, is shed on the reality of addiction and mental illness.  The two often go together.  In fact, there is a medical term for it: co-occurring.  

People around the world need to know that drugs, alcohol, depression and anxiety are very close neighbors and that those who struggle with them need to ask for help and the rest of us need to pay attention and do what we can to assist.  If you are not able to treat someone because you lack professional skills, you can still be of service.  Take them to an A.A. or N.A. meeting.  Financially support a part of their treatment costs.  Drive them to the ER or the doctor's office so they can get the help they need.  But, most of all, assure them that they are not alone and that you love them no matter what they do and will be there to assist, if you're able, when the addict or alcoholic is ready to change.  

Good night Robin Williams.  You will be missed.  Rest in Peace.

At The Coleman Institute, we laugh a lot.  We laugh right into the face of addiction because we see what a joke it is.  The people who suffer from it, however, have our utmost respect and compassion.  If you or someone you love struggles with alcohol, opiates, benzos, Methadone, or Suboxone, please do not hesitate to contact Jennifer Pius or Amy Stewart at 1.877.773.3869 today.  You do not have to go down the road Mr. Williams did as tragic as it was.  There is help.  There is hope.  There is healing.  It starts here.

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