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I know this guy. In the years I covered this addiction scourge, I met Richie over the phone. He was consulting for the 2010 hit movie, The Fighter with Mark Walberg and Christian Bale. The main Character played by Mark, Micky Ward had a brother, Dicky Ecklund (Bale) who was also a great boxer, but was a jail bird and suffered from addiction in the Lowell area. He was also Micky’s screwed up mentor. The drug context of Lowell is Richie’s area of expertise. He knew the lay of the land inside and out and was a boxer himself. Richie and I had a couple of great conversations and some email correspondence. I never met him face to face. In The raw and telling book, What’s Left of Us, A Memoir of Addiction, he tells his story. I remember reading the part where he as two friends purposely overdose, hoping to end it all, only to be rescued by paramedics. I believe him. I’ve seen it in my son, who overdosed more than once, each time being carted off to ER. It’s is a love-hate relationship; deadlier than the worst love affair you have ever had. Surviving it is not for the faint of heart. Today my son sits in jail. When I look into his eyes, I know he feels safe. Slowly, jails are also beginning to see their role in dealing with addiction; coming around to a bit more humanity in how addicts are seen. I could imagine my son saying something to the effect “Its like licking the breath of God” as Richie puts it. Read his book, What’s Left of Us.