Musician Flea on Opioid Addiction
Addiction is a cruel disease, says bassist Flea
One of the founding members of Red Hot Chili Peppers, Flea blames the trend of prescription drug abuse on health care givers.
Addiction is a cruel disease, says bassist Flea
Opinion Opioid Addiction Feb 27, 2018

Creativity is often connected to addiction or some mental issue. No wonder, many celebrities are found to be suffering from one problem or the other. However, it has only become common in the recent years that celebs are talking publicly about their addiction or mental health problems, helping fight the stigma associated with them. The latest on the list is Michael Peter Balzary, famous by his stage name Flea. The 55-year-old musician-actor, a founding member of Red Hot Chili Peppers band, admitted his problem in an op-ed he penned for the Time recently.

The bassist stands testimony to how marijuana acts as a gateway drug, which led him to try other illegal drugs. “I started smoking weed when I was eleven, and then proceeded to snort, shoot, pop, smoke, drop and dragon chase my way through my teens and twenties,” Flea writes in the op-ed.

It was not just him, but a widespread problem with the people around him. “I’ve been around substance abuse since the day I was born,” he writes, adding that, “All the adults in my life regularly numbed themselves to ease their troubles, and alcohol or drugs were everywhere, always.” The musician saw three of his best friends conceding their lives to drugs in their mid-20s. He himself had some narrow escapes. However, at the age of 30, he realized how he was destructing his life by doing drugs. A strong desire to “be a good father” helped him come out of the quagmire.

The description of addiction by Flea is enough to dissuade anyone contemplating doing drugs, maybe just for experimentation. So much so that he uses the five-letter word, b***h, to explain the “temptation.” “All my life I’ve gone through periods of horrific anxiety: a tightness in my stomach that creeps up and squeezes my brain in an icy grip. My mind relentlessly whirring, I can’t eat or sleep, and I stare into a seemingly infinite void of despair, a bottomless pit of fear,” he writes, adding, “drugs would fix all that in a flash.”

“Once you’ve opened the door to drug abuse, it’s always there, seducing you to come on in and get your head right,” Flea cautions. To cope with the situation, he took the easier way out, even though it may appear difficult initially – meditation, exercise and spirituality, among others.

Opioid epidemic – Flea’s words of caution

The musician holds doctors responsible for the growing trend of prescription drug abuse. “Many who are suffering today were introduced to drugs through their healthcare providers,” he writes.

He cited his own example to explain how the medical fraternity has been contributing to the opioid epidemic ravaging the United States. He had broken an arm in a snowboarding accident a few years ago and had to undergo an operation. Though his treatment was fine, what followed was a prescription of OxyContin for two months. He took only one pill against the dosage of four-a-day, as mentioned on the medicine bottle, and still felt “high as hell.” “It not only quelled my physical pain, but all my emotions as well… I became depressed. I stopped taking them after a month, but I could have easily gotten another refill.”

Such easy availability of these addictive prescription drugs can ruin even sane people’s lives by making them dependent. And its impact doesn’t spare anyone, no matter what the person is. While painkillers might be prescribed when actually needed, doctors must be careful. The prescription should be coupled with monitoring and follow-ups and an effective alternative way to recovery and rehabilitation. Even the major pharmaceutical companies have a responsibility, he felt.

Addiction a disease

Many of us see addiction as an evil, while the fact is it’s a disorder that needs treatment. The musician himself sees addiction as a “cruel disease,” which requires help from the medical fraternity and the government to treat the affected people.

He says the world is so scary that many find it easier to pop pills than dealing with the negatives like agony, prejudice, disappointment and anxiety. However, he determined his own ways to deal with the situation. He says that by “starting with gratitude for the rough times” and “valuing the lessons of our difficulties” we can fight the lure of drugs and lead an addiction-free life.


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