Recently I (Facebook) friended a man I hadn’t seen since 2010, when I met him in rehab. He was a good guy. He annoyed me a little at first, because when he heard that I was a computer programmer, like so many others he assumed that I had some sort of magical ability to fix computer problems, and asked me to fix something on his iTunes. I found it annoying that he had a notebook there too, while I had nothing. Anyway, even though I had never seen iTunes before, I fixed his computer problems, and won both his respect and his friendship. (I recall it was not an iTunes problem, but a Windows file association issue that was easy to fix.)
I’d forgotten all about him until a few months ago, when I decided to send him a friend request in Facebook. He was living in Thailand, having started as an English teacher and then decided to work in a tattoo shop. Up until last month, he was posting pictures of himself and his new girlfriend, partying it up.
I don’t know the circumstances of his death, and there isn’t a notice about it either… just lots of RIP comments from those closer to him. This is the third death I know of among those who were with me in Careline in 2010, and also the third young man who died despite being more than ten years younger than me. Wesley should have lived far longer than he did.
Edit: “I’m sorry I make you sad” on his girlfriend’s profile (among other things, so she is struggling with his death), so it looks like a suicide. No warning signs… His last posts looked happy-go-lucky and he was so far from friends and family, nobody could have seen this coming and helped him. This is a terrible tragedy, and I feel for his girlfriend. Their relationship reminds me of my own a few years ago, which could so easily have ended as theirs has.
This is a grim reminder, not only about the perils of addiction, but about the awful truth when it comes to recovery. Not everybody you meet in rehab stays clean. Hell, I didn’t get it right straight away and didn’t clean up for good until more than three years after that rehab. You make friends, often with good people who happen to be addicts, and get to know them while they are clean… But most of them will not stay that way. Some will return to drugs immediately, and many will stay clean for a few months and then go back. And some of them will die doing so.
It’s hard to take anything positive out of this, knowing that a good man who was loved by all who knew him, died far too soon and too young. If anything, let this be a warning to you who try to clean up but don’t get it right straight away. Don’t give up, and don’t allow yourself to be seduced by the good times that a life with drugs might present. Those good times will be short lived, and so might you.
Edit: (Oops. I can’t figure out how to add annotations using Windows Live Writer.) Since I have mentioned that rehab by name, I should mention that it is a good rehab. It’s a Christian rehab, which annoyed me, but I enjoyed my time there after the initial shock of being treated like a child. They run a good program – a basic three months program and an extended two year program (although I believe that two years in rehab is a bad idea, because you need to function in society and you risk being institutionalized by staying there too long). The fact that thee people I met there are now dead has nothing to do with the rehab or the program itself. Staying clean is difficult until you find a way that works for you, and most people who go to rehab, regardless of where they go and how good the rehab is, will probably not stay clean. That’s just the way it is.