Last Friday, a few of us went out for Indian food after our weekly group, then watched the local Fourth of July display from the balcony of the restaurant. As the last fireworks were exploding into feathers and stars and Mardi Gras beads, a couple below came stumbling our way, weaving and clutching each other.
And then they spotted us. I don’t remember what the woman was shouting at us—it was a long harangue, maybe something about us being in cahoots with Bush? Then she was picking up rocks as if to throw them at us, though she didn’t … or couldn’t. She lurched inexorably toward us, up the stairs, still yelling at us, with her sheepish-looking partner in tow.
They left only when the pregnant restaurant owner took out her cell to call the police. After officers caught up with the pair at the liquor store a few businesses down, they told us they already knew the couple. They were “frequent flyers,” as one of the officers put it.
We were celebrating freedom, all of us on that balcony. And the drunk couple were as free as the rest of us, in a way. Free to stagger down to the liquor store, free to buy booze, free to drink it.
But they weren’t free of their addiction.
I’m posting this on my blog because a lot of people with ADD have addictions, and vice versa. According to Wendy Richardson, an expert on ADD and addictions, 30 to 50 percent of us with ADD self-medicate with alcohol or other drugs—and that doesn’t include behaviors that can be addictive, such as eating, gambling, shopping, sex, or Internet use.
This week after Independence Day, I congratulate any of you who are clean or sober or abstinent from whatever behavior had you in its grip. And my Fourth of July wish for anyone out there who’s still grappling with addiction is, simply, freedom.
Wendy Richardson is a therapist in Soquel, California, who specializes in ADD and addiction. If you ever get a chance to hear her speak, I’m pretty sure you’ll be as moved and inspired as I was when I heard her at a CHADD conference. Her website offers a lot of helpful information on the interplay between ADD and addictions: www.addandaddiction.com.