Up until the age of 40 (2002) I was a responsible gay man. I ensured that I used protection every time I had a casual sexual encounter. I was not in a committed relationship at that stage, so it was not even an option for me to bareback with someone. I found that exceptionally scary at the time, as I was aware of how easy it was to contract STDs, especially HIV.
I was eight years old when I accidentally walked in on my mum injecting heroin in the kitchen. I'll never forget the confused look on her face - the warm embrace of the opiates blunted any acute feelings shame and panic, leaving her with an ugly, dumbfounded grimace. Luckily, this episode was the turning point in both our lives...
The following morning, the day of Catalina's funeral, it was the turn of Bruce Lee - the self-styled "King of the Sewers". Never shy of a spectacle, he arrived barefoot with his head painted in Aurolac, a luminous helmet of bright silver paint that the addicts sniff. A stark reminder of the crazed drug-infested atmosphere where Catalina had died.
It seems like yesterday that the world woke to the shocking scenes of neglect and cruelty inside Romania's orphanages and care homes. Grainy Images of feces-stained wards, and babies chained to rusty cast-iron beds that seared in our minds. But 25 years on what has happened to Romania's abandoned children, and what fate awaits children from Romania's underfunded care system today?
Escaping pain never works. You can try, but there will always be a time when you are left alone in the abyss of your thoughts and the pain will re-surface. Drugs, sex, alcohol.. they are perfect engines for your own escape, but eventually they will become your consistent means of running away from what is actually hurting you.
Anyone who thinks dying from an overdose is selfish has a weird idea of what an addict wants out of life. There comes a point at which drinking, drug use, all that - they're not fun anymore. Philip Seymour Hoffman wasn't out partying. He was alone in his bathroom, compelled. Cory Monteith in his hotel room. Chris Kelly in his living room.
We like brilliant men to be brilliant at all times and so we brush aside any indication that brilliant men might, like us ordinary men, be capable of brokenness, which means men like Hoffman and Heath Ledger before him, though richly brilliant, often end up dying the impoverished death of broken men who have been impossibly fractured by some intimate failure.
Often people are aware of their addictive behaviour and would like to stop or slow down. However, the illusion of the addiction can be so powerful that the fear of not being able to cope without it is overwhelming and can suffocate even the smallest attempt to take control of the situation and muster the confidence to change.