Flea is urging all of us to rethink our image of junkies. In a recent opinion article for Time, the Red Hot Chili Peppers bassist opened up about his experience with drugs and how close he came to becoming dependent on the drugs fueling America's opioid epidemic.
"Perfectly sane people become addicted to these medications and end up dead," Flea wrote. "Lawyers, plumbers, philosophers, celebrities — addiction doesn’t care who you are."
He also wants us to reconsider the image of street dealers because they're not just sketchy people hanging out in sketchy alleys in rundown parts of town. They're respectable members of society wearing stethoscopes and lab coats.
"[W]hat if your dealer was someone you’d trusted to keep you healthy since you were a kid?" Flea wrote. "Many who are suffering today were introduced to drugs through their healthcare providers. When I was a kid, my doctor would give me a butterscotch candy after a checkup. Now, they’re handing out scripts. It’s hard to beat temptation when the person supplying you has a fancy job and credentials and it’s usually bad advice not to trust them."
But questioning your doctor could save your life. The opioid epidemic killed over 49,000 Americans in 2016 alone, and many of those victims were first introduced to opioids through legal prescriptions for percocet and other pills.
Flea was in danger of becoming one of those statistics after a snowboarding accident left him with a tempting prescription to fill.
"A few years ago I broke my arm snowboarding and had to have major surgery. My doctor put me back together perfectly, and thanks to him I can still play bass with all my heart. But he also gave me a two-month supply of Oxycontin. The bottle said to take four each day. I was high as hell when I took those things. It not only quelled my physical pain, but all my emotions as well. I only took one a day, but I was not present for my kids, my creative spirit went into decline and I became depressed. I stopped taking them after a month, but I could have easily gotten another refill."
Luckily his dedication to his family helped him avoid the temptation to get another refill. Just as his family helped him get clean years ago when he lived the stereotypical rocker lifestyle. But he recognizes that not everyone can motivate themselves to kick their addiction or avoid temptation. So he's calling on the government and the medical community to ramp up their efforts to address the health crisis of drug abuse.
"Addiction is a cruel disease, and the medical community, together with the government, should offer help to all of those who need it."
Check out the full article here.