Updated: Aug 4
I am continuing my blog, "Epic Quarters for JP Morgan, Fentanyl, Depression and Anxiety" by sharing a story of a young man whose life was drowning in Fentanyl and headed for destruction. The story is one of hope and of a unique and powerful model to help slay the dragon of addiction.
I tracked down a young man I had just started working with. ("Cassey" - name changed) He was in a hotel known for nothing good but the price. He agreed to speak to me at 11am and by 1pm after a series of lies, games and “high” behavior, he walked in the door. The room stank of illegal and burned substances, some alcohol and various human excretions.
The walls and ceiling had a variety of legible and illegible writing and numerous nasty depictions of sex and death scenes. Only one of these artists had any discernible talent. Michelangelo had never stayed here.
I tried to find somewhere to sit so I could talk with Cassey. He was high but still able to engage. I asked about his immediate plans for the future. The first consisted of continuing his stay in this paradise of sensory overload – urine, smoke, screams, loud sexual ecstatic or other utterances, rotting garbage and graffiti. There was no room service other than human flesh.
His next stated goal was to continue to market death in the form of Fentanyl. With over 21 million lethal doses of this product having been confiscated by the Dallas Police in the past five months, one can only imagine how many more doses had been delivered and were currently out on the streets. He was getting in on the ground floor of a booming business.
Cassey was in a demographic that according to the National Center for Drug Abuse Statistics, said fentanyl was a factor in 53 percent or 43,000 of overdose deaths out of 81,000 in 2020. He was dealing to support his addiction, driving while under the influence, and had at one point owned a gun for “fun” and protection. A perfect recipe for destruction by his own hand, that of a buyer or distributor.
As I talked to Cassey, I asked him to do two exercises. I gave him two pieces of paper and wrote the opening sentences for him to continue to work on.
The first was to write a letter to his parents. The letter would be given posthumously in the event of him dying from an overdose or other activity associated with his dealing. It began with, “Mom and dad, if I die, I want you to know it was not because of anything you did or are responsible for. I want to thank you for all you did for me and gave me through my life…..I am sorry, I love you, Cassey”. I told him to at least give his parents the ability to grieve his death without loading them with the unimaginable guilt of having a son who killed himself when every option and offer of help were offered to him.
The second exercise was a letter to himself. “Dear Cassey, If you could create an amazing future, what do you believe it would look like…” As a central part of that, I wanted him to begin to list those positive things that stood out in his life. He was to look at his history, relationships, education, recreation and begin to change the focus on each one from a position of great possibilities. Dream. See a future where you know you have talent and could be successful. See yourself doing and being that future.
Wealth, more than 70% of respondents said they face a mental health or addiction issue
in their family. As many as 84 percent said they are concerned about potential damage
to the family’s reputation. Without exception, all expressed concern about the destructive
potential of bad decisions fueled by substance abuse.
We could fill a library of the tales of fortunes lost due to mental health and addiction stories. Some are short stories. Others long and filled with the lives of addicts and their families living with constant turmoil, pain, lawyers, hospitals, police, visits away from home for help, children, spouses and parents traumatized.
Over the last 30 years I developed a powerful, unique and successful approach to working with those dealing with drug and alcohol addiction. The vast majority of my clients have been to one or more rehabs, often in a variety of different facilities in the US and abroad. They have attempted: detox at five-star spa facilities, wilderness programs, military schools, Peruvian hallucinogenics administered by jungle doctors, sweat lodges, monasteries, and other options without lasting change.
The approach I developed was based on two essential beliefs:
1. Belief #1 - Many of the problems that result in addiction are not the result of traumatic events but a vacuum of the soul. The vacuum must be filled. In many instances it is done with substances both legal and illegal, but not life.
Blaise Pascal, the great French mathematician and philosopher described this concept so perfectly.
“What else does this craving, and this helplessness, proclaim but that there was once in man a true happiness, of which all that now remains is the empty print and trace? This he tries in vain to fill with everything around him, seeking in things that are not there the help he cannot find in those that are, though none can help, since this infinite abyss can be filled only with an infinite and immutable object; in other words by God himself.” Pensées VII (425)
This hole in the soul – the deepest part of our identity – is caused by not knowing who we are, what we bring to the world and why we have value. We don’t know where we fit. More importantly, we don’t know how our lives can be given to impact and build the lives of others. Immediate, self-medicated soul-filling is the focus, but desperation, destruction, emptiness and sorrow the expression.
It has been my experience in working with U/HNW families that often the teens and young adults suffer a unique version of “Trauma of Identity”. There exists in many of these young adults a default belief that they will be successful or at least financially secure as long as they live. They can often find a place in the family run or controlled business. Their entrance into a top tier university is assured. They are immune from want or need. These beliefs create a deep, dark vacuum in their souls.
In many cases nothing has been denied them or personally earned by them. They have experienced or have had the option to taste, touch, see, meet and go anywhere they want. The hole in the soul is never filled by self-enjoyment or indulgence. The opportunities afforded the U/HNW, no matter how spectacular are not made to fill the void. They are temporary and most often for the sake of self.
This “Trauma of Identity” manifests itself in the use of substances that mask “Divine” pleasure, purpose, peace, exuberance, joy and power. These substances give them a temporary and false high, peace, excitement, sense of control, relief from pain or escape to Shangrila; all on demand. They do work but soon but evaporate, leaving the seeker lost and searching what is more permanent.
Trauma is a part of all our lives. Many people deal with it by seeking to forget, soothe the pain, temporarily free that they are more than they currently believe themselves to be, or tragically even self-destruct.
I strongly believe that most drug rehabs and addiction theory miss the mark by focusing almost exclusively on past trauma. Their resulting success in helping addicts recover is marginal at best. Most rehabs now tell their clients that it is likely they will return for 3-4 visits before rehab kicks in or works.
2. Belief #2 - Addiction will continue to maintain its hold on someone’s life, until the weight of knowing and using their individual talents are embraced. This must be coupled with a clear sense of individual purpose - knowing what matters and what they value beyond money. When individuals start seeing themselves as stronger, more powerful and ultimately bigger than their addiction, they begin to recover.
In addition, when they see themselves from this perspective, past traumatic events tend to look a lot smaller and manageable. Some of these traumas even reach a place of insignificance. The client gains a new perspective of how impotent these traumas really are.
At The Legacy Forum, our process follows these steps:
Step 1 – Stop, Intervene and Get Clean.
STOP by planned intervention, court order or arrest.
Detox – at-home or medical facility.
Get clear and clean – from the immediate control of substances
Step 2 – START the Process of Talent DNA Identification and Personal Values Development.
When Detox is complete the awareness of a vacuum becomes more real. External substances had filled the soul of the user. Human nature, our souls, abhor a vacuum. If left vacant, most people will likely return to what they know. Even worse, the vacuum often expands because detox and therapy didn’t work. People lose hope with each failed attempt.
After Detox, most rehabs begin therapy. Therapy looks backwards and seeks to identify trauma which they believe is the source of substance abuse behaviors.
At The Legacy Forum we begin the process of Talent DNA discovery, using our proprietary process of Positive Forensic Profiling. The process is life-changing. Each individual is guided through an intense process where they identify, describe and articulate their Talent DNA. Talent should drive what we do in life, including relationships, college, career and legacy.
We continue by helping each client identify their unique motives and values in life. Values determine where, how and who they give their talents to. That is where the vacuum begins to be filled; not addiction-fueled. The very act of looking to the needs of others begins a process of filling our souls. It starts to permeate deeply. It begins to strengthen their souls and becomes a prophylactic to destructive substances. Substance abuse is a lifestyle marinated with self-absorption and not other-interest.
“Man can only find meaning for his existence in something outside himself.” Viktor Frankl
Cassey has successfully been through Part 1 and been clean for over 50 days now. His mind is clear, his emotions are coming to life daily and his excitement for discovering what the future holds is blossoming. He is currently applying for jobs and exploring careers in the culinary arts and military.
Have you tried to link your addiction to past trauma but with limited or maybe no discernable change? The sense of hope that you will bring this beast under control is waning. Maybe you have recently returned from another rehab or program like Cassey and you find yourself back to square one.
Your life and legacy are on the line. Maybe a child or other family member. I know there is hope!
The Legacy Forum is a unique program and offers services not found in other addiction models. It's time to call us and begin a conversation that just might result in finding a sense of hope and control you have been struggling to find for a very long time.
It is time to slay the dragon!
Mark R Demos
Founder - The Legacy Forum
The Legacy Forum helps bring clarity to your present and certainty for your future. Being able to confidently move forward with less anxiety, less hesitancy and more certainty, is priceless.
If you are ready to confront a life that is out of control, overcome with addiction, depression, anxiety, and a crisis, if you are ready to find a greater level unity and joy in your family, make substantive career decisions or live a passion-infused life, then you are ready to reach out
Call or text me today at (425) 492-4300 and we can begin moving forward.