Former Mayor of Tallahassee and a Democratic, first-ever, black candidate for Governor of Florida, Andrew Gillum, lost the election by a razor-thin margin. He was also recently busted in a hotel room where police were called in response to a suspected drug overdose. Three people were in the room, including Gillum who was considered, by police report, unable to coherently communicate due to being under the influence of alcohol and, possibly, other drugs.
He has since announced that he will enter a rehabilitation center for substance use disorder. He also just issued an apology to his family, friends and supporters. I refuse to accept his apology.
If he had suffered a diabetic episode, would he have felt the need to apologize? If he had struggled to quit smoking cigarettes (as Barak Obama did); would he issue a public apology? If he failed to modify his diet, would he need to apologize? I get it that he was busted by the police. I get it that a talented, rising star, person of color is now in the news for startling, “gotcha” reasons.
Let us look at us for just a moment. We still struggle (including well-intended, religious folk) with the reality that addiction is a disease. We still (far too many of us, at least) still consider addiction a weakness of will. Worse yet, many still refer to it as a sin. The sin of being sick and needing help is no sin at all.
Andrew Gillum needs our help, not our ridicule or ostracization. Other people ~ many, many other people like him ~ need our help. As a young visitor told our church in her address in a service dedicated to addiction and recovery ~ “First I was shamed and ostracized for being an addict, and then I was shamed and ostracized for being in addiction recovery. It is hard enough for people like me to get clean and sober without being shamed for being an addict and then feared for being a former addict.” That young woman is now about three years in recovery and doing well; even better, perhaps, than if she had not had a huge health obstacle to deal with. She was tested by adversity and strengthened by faith, hope, support and hard work.
Good luck and many blessings on your road to recovery, Andrew Gillum. If and when you gain some distance from active addiction ~ I hope you can use your ambition, talent, experience, strength and hope to advocate for others still in the clutches of a devastating disease. It is through our wounds that we are healed. You may have lost an election by a razor-thin margin; but I pray you will recovery in a landslide. And then go forward to help others the way you were once helped.