THE OPPOSITE OF ADDICTION IS CONNECTION
Last week I lost Adam, an old friend who I loved.
I’ve spent this past week, awake at night, reflecting on my history with him. I was friends with Adam in high school. We were both members of the same crew- a close knit group of friends tightly bound through a shared love of music, social justice, and freedom. At the center of our world was Adam- the pumping heart at the core. He was caring, kind, and had an effortless charm that was enchanting and unforgettable. He had the ability to draw you in and make you feel so close to him, like you were his own personal sidekick. I have such fond memories of playing guitar with him, and listening to music together. My favorite memory together was when one night I walked over to his house and we stayed up until the sun came up, listening to one of my favorite albums by Wilco. I remember how he would obsessively pause at specific breaks and riffs and replay them over and over, analyzing every detail and melody. And through sharing his own enthusiasm, he inspired me cultivate a deep passion for music and art- a quality has stuck with me even now. He's such a crucial part of who I am today.
Despite unwavering love & support from family and friends and efforts at rehab, Adam succumbed to addiction, a misunderstood disease that crippled his mind and isolated him from the world. Beyond Adam, I have friends and family who suffered from the nightmare of addiction. The question I wonder more broadly, now that I’ve experienced another devastating loss at the hands of addiction, is how to move forward. How can we strive for a better health care system and treat addiction the way we do cancer or diabetes- as a long term, daily struggle that requires resources, relentless professional intervention, and a band of strong support systems. The general reality is that addiction is decidedly not viewed as a public health crisis, but a moral failure that relegates its victims to live in a state of secrecy and shame.
And so we need to change this reality, but how? How do we prevent these senseless deaths? Sadly, there’s no linear solution for effecting widespread societal change. What I do know is that perhaps it would be more effective if we stopped treating addicts like criminals and instead treated them with compassion. After all, studies show that people who lack connection or feel isolated from the world are more susceptible to develop an addiction. Why then do we treat addicts as outcasts when that is the very reason they sought escape in the first place? I do hope for a world where people in recovery are not shamed, but rather brought out of the dark and celebrated so they may foster meaningful connections with the suffering and inspire others to beat the battle. I long for the day where there is no stigma attached to addiction, and is no longer viewed as a weakness in will. As the Rabbi mentioned in his eulogy, Adam's struggle and death are a shame, but not shameful. Millions of people struggle with addiction yet only a small sliver of those people receive the help they need to attain long term recovery. I don’t know how to solve this complicated issue, but one place to start is by supporting organizations that are at the front lines of the fight. If you’d like to support the effort of fighting the addiction epidemic, please consider giving to an organization that helped Adam, The Helping Up Mission, and is actively helping many other men in Baltimore to overcome addiction. Every dollar counts!
The recipe that I’m sharing comes from the refrigerator of Allison Hartman, Adam’s amazingly strong, compassionate, and generous mother, who I had the honor of reconnecting with this weekend. I have a glorious memory of this dish when one afternoon we were scrounging around Adam’s kitchen and discovered an enormous bowl of peanut noodles. I fell in love with them, and have been making them in my own kitchen ever since, with my own special spin of course. It’s a dish that I’ve thought about a lot this week- every time I make them I’m flooded with memories of Adam. Making these noodles has brought me so much comfort during this week of mourning and deep reflection, and I hope it brings you comfort too.
- spaghetti or soba noodles, boiled
- 1 large sweet potato, diced and roasted
- 1 red pepper, sliced thin
- 1 green pepper, sliced thin
- 1 cup of parsley, chopped
- 4 scallions, chopped
- 1 clove of garlic
- 1 inch knob of ginger
- 1/2 cup of peanut butter
- 1/3 cup of olive oil
- 1 tbs maple syrup
- 3 tbs. sesame oil
- 1/4 cup of rice wine vinegar
- 1/3 cup of soy sauce
- 3 tbs. black sesames
- 1 soft boiled, 5 min. egg
Boil noodles. Roast sweet potatoes. Meanwhile place garlic, ginger, peanut butter, maple syrup, olive oil, rice wine vinegar, sesame oil, soy sauce in a food processor and blend until smooth. When noodles are ready place in a bowl with sauce, sweet potatoes, peppers, parsley, black sesame and soft egg.