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Love the Addict, Hate the Disease

I hate heroin

I feel a sense of grief today for the loss of a young man that I did not even have the honor of knowing. Will Symonds will be laid to rest today. He was 22 years old at the time of his death.

His family opened doors for others by offering a powerful and painful truth in his obituary:

“Will lost his battle with heroin addiction on May 6th 2016.”

It feels so insufficient to even attempt to express my condolences to his family. I don’t know his family. I’ve just known and loved a lot of families who have been through this hell and I’ve loved a lot of folks who are/were active in addiction. I wish to covey nothing but the utmost respect to the Symonds family…There just are no words…

I hate it when people die of this disease.

For all of us, but perhaps especially for affected others, it’s a very hollow experience to hate addiction. It’s an intense form of powerlessness mixed with kicks in the gut and then sometimes…sometimes the whole world falls apart and the unimaginable happens and God It hurts to see every parent’s nightmare come true in my community and I want to cry and I want to scream and I want so desperately for this sentence to convey just one iota of how sorry I am for the loss of the Symonds family…

But it can’t. All I can say is that I love the addict and I hate the disease.

I can’t hurt this thing that I hate. I can’t direct my anger toward a deserving adversary. All I can do is recall the words of Mother Jones:

“Pray for the dead and fight like hell for the living.”

Except…my brothers and sisters who are active in addiction are not living

They are only surviving.

Recovery offers the possibility of living healthy and well. Not all of us survive long enough to attain it.

Addiction is in many respects similar to cancer. It insidiously grows and strips away everything that’s healthy. It takes away everything that’s good. Sometimes quickly, sometimes over the course of decades.

It takes away people we love.

Please honor the wishes of the Symonds family and please support every effort toward addiction recovery and every person seeking it and please know that every one of us – no matter how we may be seen by others – is someone’s son or daughter.

Those wishing to remember Will in a special way may contribute in his memory to the Bangor Area Recovery Network, 142 Center St., Brewer, ME. 04412, or

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