Last updated: March 31. 2014 10:08AM - 318 Views
Hugh Gray Contributing Columnist

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Newberry’s recent half marathon reminded me of a story about a young man from Chicago.

On Sunday October 13, 2013, a young man who goes by the name of Ronnie Marcin completed his very first marathon - the Bank of America Chicago Marathon.

Ronnie is proud to tell you that he finished the marathon in four hours, 32 minutes and 18 seconds. A great accomplishment for a first time marathon runner.

Completing the Chicago Marathon was an even greater accomplishment for the man from the Chicago suburbs because just a few years ago, the idea of running in a marathon was, well, impossible.

Three short years ago, Ronnie found himself in a hospital bed soon after being admitted for overdosing on alcohol. Ronnie had almost died. He had reached bottom and realized that he needed help. He also realized that his behavior was not normal and when a hospital staff member directed him to get help, he did.

Ronnie had seen first-hand how alcoholism and drug addiction destroys lives. Alcoholism took his mother from his family and he knows it could still take him. He knows this race is longer than the marathon.

On March 28, Ronnie marked his three and a half year anniversary of being clean and sober.

As part of his road to sobriety, Ronnie took up running. Then, he decided to run the Chicago Marathon. When asked how he decided to run to benefit NCADD Ronnie stated “I decided to run the marathon not for me but to help other people. I was not interested in glory for my achievements but for the help I could provide to others who are suffering from alcohol and drug abuse.” He then added, “I am hopeful that it will inspire others to make a choice that is responsible for me being here today.”

Today, Ronnie is working at a Chicago hospital as a Patient Care Technician. He spends time with his sisters and preparing for additional running events including a 5Ks and half marathons. “I live my life one day at a time,” said Ronnie. “Tomorrow has not happened yet but I know I am here today and my goal is to live for today and not take a drink. Then start it again tomorrow,” he concludes.

We hope that others who face the challenges Ronnie did will be inspired by his story and seek help. Ronnie’s inspirational message is best summed up in the following quote from his website, “I will run in memory of those who have lost their battle with the devastating disease of alcohol and drug dependence. I will run as a testament to my commitment to remain sober, and I will run to pay it forward helping others as they struggle with alcohol and drug dependence

Here are some quick facts on the scope of the problem:

•22.6 million people (9.2 percent of the U.S. population ages 12 and older) have an alcohol or drug problem. (National Survey on Drug Use and Health—NSDUH)

•2.4 million adolescents have an alcohol or drug problem. (NSDUH)

•50 percent of adults have a family member with alcoholism. (NSDUH)

•Approximately one in four children under 18 live in a family with alcoholism, and many more live in a family with drug addiction. (NSDUH)

•Alcoholism is the third leading lifestyle-related cause of death in the nation. (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

•Alcoholism and drug dependence cost the nation over $276 billion a year, resulting principally from lost productivity and increased health care spending. (National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism)

In a 1992 the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, Inc. (NCADD) and the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) published this definition for alcoholism:

“Alcoholism is a primary chronic disease with genetic, psychosocial and environmental factors influencing its development and manifestations. The disease is often progressive and fatal. It is characterized by impaired control over drinking, preoccupation with the drug alcohol, use of alcohol despite adverse consequences, and distortions in thinking, mostly denial. Each of these symptoms may be continuous or periodic.”

If you see these symptoms in yourself, a family member, or friend, please contact Westview at 276-5690.

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