Legendary musician Elton John has a longstanding history of being vocal about his recovery from addiction. Over the course of his 27 years in recovery, he has shared his experience both privately and – perhaps even more important for the recovery community at large – publicly. The week at Harvard University, he took yet another step to combat the stigma of addiction by talking about the importance of helping others find a path to recovery.
Elton John’s decision to continually break his anonymity highlights an important paradigm in recovery: Addiction is no respecter of status.
Any human being from any demographic, cultural background, geographical area, income level, can become addicted. The stigma attached to this widespread disease impacts us all, both consciously and unconsciously. Every time someone uses their voice to share their experience with recovery, they change the conversation about addiction. To use a quote from the original 12-Step recovery text:
“We are people who normally would not mix. But there exists among us a fellowship, a friendliness, and an understanding which is indescribably wonderful.”
Here are a few quotes from Elton John’s recent talk at Harvard, along with a few other reflections on the disease of addiction that he has shared over the years:
“I lost my humanity to addiction.”
“I was either going to die or I was going to live, and which one did I want to do? And then I said those words, ‘I’ll get help,’ or, ‘I need help. I’ll get help.’ And my life turned around.”
“Today, my mission to help other people embrace their own humanity and that of others.”
“I know how easy it is to despair. We can rise above it and lift people up.”
“The human spirit is the most powerful thing in the world, and when it embraces kindness and does good things, wonderful things happen.”
“This period of darkness we’re going through right now is the period right before the light we will all treasure.”
“Nothing is more profound or powerful than recognizing our common humanity.”
“But, you know, those three words – I need help. If only I’d said them earlier!”
To all of those who continue to speak out, thank you. Recovery is possible.