Twenty Years Clean

“Hi, my name is Andrea and I’m an addict.”

“Hi, Andrea,” those at this week’s Narcotic’s Anonymous meeting responded in unison.

It took Andrea a great deal of courage to not only join this group but to stand up and address the members as well.  Like every other addict, Andrea never thought that she’d ever need a program such as this, but need it she did if she was going to get her life back on track.

“I don’t know where to begin,” Andrea said next.  “I guess it all started when I was a kid.  The stuff was always around when I was growing up.  It was my family’s way to celebrate happy occasions, ease the pain whenever we felt sad, and get us through the rough times.  I can’t say that I’m all surprised that I got hooked.  My parents became hooked years before I did, my older sister is addicted to the stuff, and so is my younger brother.  We all knew for years that the stuff was making us sick, and had read all the news articles about how bad it is for us, but we’ve just never been able to keep away from it.”

Everyone in the group nodded along to every sentence because they had all been there, done that, and had the extra large t-shirt to prove it.  Folks laughed when scientists claimed that sugar was one of the most addictive substances out there, including Andrea and the rest of the Morgan family.  “How can sugar possibly be more addictive than cocaine?” they all asked.  “Cocaine has killed millions of people over the years, but surely sugar hasn’t.”

Oh, but it had.  So much sugar stuffed into such relatively small vessels…it was only a matter of time before it lead to obesity, heart disease, diabetes and cancer.  Even those with restraint couldn’t avoid it entirely.  It was in our cereals, our breads, plus our canned, bottled and frozen goods.  Then there was the obvious additions to our snack foods.  For years, the government didn’t care, but once some accounting wizard calculated what it was costing our healthcare system, they declared all types of added sugar illegal.  Soon, it was worth more on the streets than any narcotic pain reliever.  People, including Andrea, stole money to get her hands on the stuff.  They binged on chocolate bars and soda pop after their kids had gone to bed.  College students paid their tuition by trafficking it.

Andrew knew she had hit rock bottom when she saw her reflection in the mirror.  Before her stood a woman painfully squeeze into size 12 clothes when she clearly needed a size 16.  She looked worse than a crackhead.  She finally had to admit it: those obnoxious, pretentious hipsters who had for decades been touting a raw plant-based diet were right.  She quit cold turkey right then and there and joined Narcotics Anonymous.

“Do I miss the stuff?  Hell, yeah.  I dream about it still, crave it, and sometimes like to believe I can consume it in moderation.  Just a candy here or there.  But deep down inside I know that I can never touch sugar again.”

A member named Steve offered to be her sponsor and when she reached all the important milestones in her recovery – one month sugar free, six months sugar free, one year sugar free, etc. – he was there to hand her the chips; plastic ones, of course.   Not the unhealthy, but edible kind.

Twenty years later Jessica died; not from diabetes, heart disease, or cancer, but from choking to death on a piece of raw carrot.

There had better be chocolate bars in heaven or I’m going to be really mad, was her final thought.

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