I was at a meeting last night and talking with one of my mentors after we were done. The guest speaker was referencing the number of extended family members he has lost to substance abuse and chemical addiction. As this has been a recurring theme in my studies, I spoke to my friend and mentor Nick about it. Nick has been in the field and has been sharing this now for more than 30 years. He had some harsh words of reality to share with me!
He said, “Frazer, if this is something you really want to do, the longer you stick around and the more time you spend with people that need you, the more funerals you’re going to attend, and the more people you’re going to hear about that you are not going to be able to help. The number of people who come into the rooms, find help at A.A., or check into a treatment program – voluntarily or otherwise – is far, far less than the number of people out there in society who are struggling and who desperately need help. Whether a drunk on the street or housewife in Marin, even when they hit bottom, some of them still never see the light of hope that might lead them to a possible way out. They are the ones we call ‘hopeless.’ The incurable ones. No, if you care – and I think you’re the kind of person that does – be ready to attend a lot of funerals because we only touch a handful.”
So, I left thinking about what Nick had shared with me in the context of San Francisco: The PIER, the waterfront, the Mission, the BART system hallways, the Tenderloin, the financial district – and the photo above of the sidewalk scene on the way to my office every morning. I especially thought of the implication with respect to LE. Yes, LE. A family/fraternity that I sit on the fringes of, that I inherently respect, and feel extremely privileged to have been a part of if only for a short time. That last sentence is important because I do not believe anything happens coincidently or by accident. Everything happens for a reason. And if that’s the case, then God put me there to learn (as He has me here) what I could in a short period before redirecting my life and saying, “No Frazer, I have something else planned for you.” But it gave me insight, respect, and birthed in me the heart and spirit of a protector, a provider, and a warrior.
There are no accurate numbers because they don’t take roll, but there are estimated to be approximately 2 million members of A.A. and N.A. alone in the U.S. right now. If my gut experience from last night’s discussions is even remotely close to being accurate, there are at least 5 times that many addicts still out there and suffering. The tragedy is, for a variety of reasons, we just don’t know what the actual numbers are.
So, if there are millions of addicts in North America that are in some stage of recovery, there are tens of millions that are still out there, destroying themselves – and often others along with them – daily. Like suicide, addiction is not a victimless crime. And I think about all our brothers and sisters, and I recall the handful I have already served through ‘Rancho Colorina,’ and I understand the depth and meaning of Nick’s final words to me last night; “That’s why we pray, Frazer. That’s why we pray!”
If you are not familiar with this website, take a look. Paul is one of the foremost experts on suicide in the nation – perhaps in the world. I did my LE certification through QPR. https://qprinstitute.com/ Of course, I am going a lot further with ‘Intercoast’ and getting my formal licensure.
At any time, for anyone in need, my hand is always extended.