I am a person in recovery from mental health and substance use disorders. For many years, I carried a good deal of anger and resentment so, instead of addressing my issues, I turned to using drugs. Unlike many others, my addiction began in prison. It happened at one of the lowest times in my life, when I lost my father. Here I was, incarcerated and drugs were available, so I turned to the one thing that I always tried to avoid. In trying to mask my pain there were times I didn’t want to live. Depression was evident, but I camouflaged it with drugs. I was overdosing and only through the grace of God was revived every time by someone in my community. Narcan was constantly used to save my life. I was arrested so many times that I started to begin to believe that incarceration was going to be…
April 9, 1983.
This was the day Dickie Noles’ life changed. A Major League Baseball player with a nasty 95 mph fastball, Noles was a beast on the mound. But an addiction to drugs and alcohol was spiraling his life out of control as fast as his pitches. Multiple arrests for disorderly conduct were the norm for Noles, leading to far too many nights in jail and away from the baseball field.
And on that day – April 9, 1983 – Noles decided enough was enough. He hasn’t used drugs or had an alcoholic drink since then and life, Noles said, has never been better or more under control.
Typically, the worst part of any great performance is when it’s over, but that wasn’t the case at a recent performance I attended as part of the 13th Annual First Person Arts Festival in Philadelphia. It was what happened after the curtain came down that I found most riveting: an opportunity for a profound community dialogue.
The performance featured Kathryn Erbe of Law & Order: Criminal Intent, Zach Grenier of CBS' The Good Wife,Broadway star Alex Morf, and Barrymore Award nominee Julianna Zinkel in a dramatic reading of Act III of Eugene O’Neill’s play Long Day's Journey Into Night presented by First Person Arts. The reading painted a bold and intimate portrait of a family struggling under the weight of addiction – a real and important topic that affects millions of people.