April 21, 2014 |
WASHINGTON TWP. The Rev. John Stabeno calls his Monday-night meetings a sobering dose of "reality. " In the basement of St. Charles Borromeo, dozens of drug addicts and alcoholics and their family members meet weekly to vent, cry, laugh, and smile. Stabeno, a 14-year priest in the Diocese of Camden, says he tries to keep it real himself - right down to his attire. At a recent meeting, he wore loose jeans and a T-shirt as about 60 people gathered in a circle. "He's not just a priest," said Rich Bilo, 26, of Deptford, who on this warm spring night had reached 38 days without alcohol with Stabeno's assistance.
April 14, 2014 |
The first time Pearson Crosby went to the methadone clinic at the Philadelphia VA Medical Center in early 2013, he asked his father to go with him. But couldn't tell him why. Crosby, who played varsity basketball at Council Rock High School South, had served four years in the United States Marine Corps, with two tours in Iraq. When he came home from war in late 2008, he soon faced another scourge - addiction to prescription pain medications. His life descended into another hell, one maybe worse than war. He couldn't admit to himself, much less to his family, what he'd become.
March 28, 2014 |
MOMENTS before she grabbed the Clef Club mic and sang Michael Jackson's "You Are Not Alone" as if she were pleading for her life, Gina Albater said, "I always wanted to be a singer, but I started using drugs when I was 13, so all my dreams went down the drain. " She's 36 now, lucky to be alive, lucky to be dreaming again - and she knows it. Like her fellow competitors in the first round of Recovery Idol 2014 - which ends in September when two finalists will battle at Penn's Landing in front of 20,000 people in recovery - the South Philly singer is now clean and sober, and fighting to stay that way. "I was raised around a bunch of addicts, so I thought that was normal," Albater said.
March 24, 2014 |
EVER HAVE A CHAT with an impressively mature kid and wistfully think, "If only I'd known at her age what she knows"? I get that way every time a child shares a sage insight that took me years to learn the hard way. Like last week, when I chilled with teacher Joanna Bottaro's fifth-graders at the Gen. George A. McCall School, on 7th Street near Spruce. The students are researching the phenomena of emotional neglect (which they endearingly refer to as "neglection"). They've managed to boil down the topic to an essential truth that I wish I'd learned decades sooner: We'd all be better off if we listened more closely and more often to each other, with more empathy and less judgment.
March 8, 2014 |
At Cooper B. Hatch Family School on Thursday, a 17-year-old boy described how his mother introduced him to getting high when he was in the sixth grade. An 18-year-old told the middle-school audience of seeing her boyfriend being stabbed, and of how he died in her lap on the way to the hospital. Another boy admitted selling drugs and robbing even before he got to high school. Yet another described being well on the road to addiction by his teens. All four - all residents in the state's youth correctional and rehabilitation system - are working to reclaim their lives.
February 19, 2014
I AM a 28-year-old recovering heroin addict. Having said that, Ms. Flowers, I now need to address your perceptions of addiction and specifically Philip Seymour Hoffman's death. Being educated in this field, both academically and personally, I am blessed with a unique insight into the disease of addiction. And, make no mistake about it, it is a disease. However, it is not a disease like cancer or diabetes, as some like to compare it to. It is a disease not like any other. It is threefold in nature: a mental obsession, like obsessive-compulsive disorder; a physical allergy, like one would have to peanut butter; and a spiritual malady, which I have no words to explain.
February 14, 2014
NOTHING touches the psychological third rail as saying that "addicts are selfish. " Since early last Friday morning, when my column on Philip Seymour Hoffman first appeared online, I've been receiving emails from all over the country with various levels of outrage, self-righteousness and, most surprisingly, gratitude. I expected the comments like "I want to bitch slap you" from the woman in Florida who said that her son had just died of a heroin overdose. The supercilious tsk- tsking from those in what I call the industrial-addiction complex was hardly surprising, either.
February 7, 2014 |
Dennis Chambers was introduced to heroin on spring break in 2013. "Dude, it's cool," a buddy told him. "Why don't you just try it?" He was a freshman at Seton Hall University, 18, and had been battling prescription painkiller addiction for two years. Home for the summer, Chambers commuted daily from Mantua, Gloucester County, to Camden to feed what quickly became a heroin habit. "It made all my troubles go away, but it brought me to the lowest point imaginable," he says. "I had everything going for me. And I lost it. " Unlike less fortunate heroin addicts - the gifted actor Philip Seymour Hoffman comes to mind - Chambers didn't lose his life.
January 21, 2014 |
GET READY for another reality TV show featuring Dennis Rodman. The former NBA star checked himself into an alcohol rehabilitation center somewhere in New Jersey last week after returning from a visit with his good friend Kim Jong Un, the supreme leader of North Korea. Rodman's agent Darren Prince released a statement yesterday that read, "Dennis Rodman came back from North Korea in pretty rough shape emotionally. The pressure that was put on him to be a combination 'super human' political figure and 'fixer' got the better of him. He is embarrassed, saddened and remorseful for the anger and hurt his words have caused.
September 18, 2013 |
Henry T. Wells, 83, of North Philadelphia, a onetime drug addict and dealer who after getting sober devoted his life to helping other addicts, died Wednesday, Sept. 11, of Parkinson's disease at his home. Mr. Wells, who also was known as "Rev. Wells" even though he was not a clergyman, started One Day at a Time Recovery Inc. in 1983 and dedicated himself to his work until Parkinson's forced him to retire seven years ago. The center is now run by one of his sons, Melchezdeck. "My father taught me everything.