Opioids kill. That's no secret. In fact, opioids have killed more Americans than the entire Vietnam War. That doesn't include all the little deaths: mental, spiritual, social, physical. Nor does it include addicts who are so strung out they resemble the walking dead. But this might be the first instance where opioids have caused a man to be buried alive.
His name is John Edwards. He became addicted to drugs and alcohol when he was 12 years old. And, by his own admission, the next 24 years were living hell.
"I ended up on the streets of London, homeless," he told Stitch. "Begging for a living. I've been in and out of mental institutions up to 10 times. I've overdosed, seriously, over 20 times."
Then Edwards experienced an epiphany and got clean. Now he's being buried alive. That's right, buried alive. All on account of opioids. Or, more precisely, to raise awareness of the opioid crisis.
What caused this drastic measure? The overdose death of a close friend. Edwards says he was at his pal's graveside when the idea occurred to him.
"I thought, I'm going to make a coffin for myself," he said. "And I'm going to bury myself in it. And I will have a livestream from inside this coffin and make it interactive."
In other words, Edwards wanted to reach out from the grave -- his own grave. So reach out he did. And the world reached back. Addicts, families of addicts and people going through unimaginable hardships all got in touch via social media, many using the hashtag #gravechat. And Edwards was, er, on hand to help all of them.
"I've had 12 active suicides phone me in this coffin," said Edwards after being buried alive. "And by the grace of God, they're all alive today."
That's far beyond the initial single person Edwards said would make it worth being buried alive in the first place. In fact, Edwards' #GraveChat was so successful, he's now planning on being buried alive in Ireland.
While we at Recovery Boot Camp don't advocate getting buried -- alive or otherwise -- we certainly can appreciate the metaphor. We also can applaud Edwards' actions. Sometimes it takes more than a stat or a story to wake up people. Sometimes it takes some very vivid symbolism, not to mention someone with the guts to get so symbolic. And Edwards' #GraveChat meets that criteria alright.
We're especially behind Edwards' message, even if it does come from six feet under. If you have a problem with addiction, seek help. If you need someone to speak with about substance abuse, reach out. Help is out there. So are helping hands. Hell, one helping hand is even reaching out from the grave!
"I really should be dead," says Edwards. "And many people who are listening to this should be dead as well. But they need to make bigger decisions. To go and do something to change their life forever. So that they don't end up in a premature grave."
There's no bigger decision than sobriety. And nothing changes lives as much as recovery. So go ahead and reach out. Spare yourself an early grave. And spare John Edwards again having to be buried alive.
Buried Alive 2
(#GRAVECHAT Ireland takes place November 15-17 in Dublin. For more information log on to John Edwards' Walking Free.)