If you hadn’t heard, there was another fatal overdose today. Around noon police responded to a 9-1-1 call and pronounced Malcolm McCormick dead at the scene. We’ve become numb to the reality that OD’s kill almost five people every hour in the US. This is today’s status quo and, in most cases, no one stops to contemplate these tragedies of lost life. Shoot, this could have been me on at least four separate occasions had I not been lucky enough to receive the appropriate medical attention in a timely manner. The purpose of this piece to provide a chronology on addiction using the information available to create a timeline using one man’s progression. Our prayers go out to Malcolm, his friends, family and loved ones as well as anyone struggling.
What makes Malcolm McCormick’s death significant is that you might know him better as Mac Miller. His story has incredible similarities to mine and, I imagine, to a number of lost souls dealing with substance abuse. Mac’s struggle, like mine, started young. His journey into addiction began at the age of 15 with the use of Promethazine with Codeine. This was back in 2007. From 2007 till 2012 there isn’t much information on his progression. I would speculate we followed similar trajectories over the course of those five years to the point where he tried kicking the drugs on multiple occasions without much success.
That appeared to change in November 2012, with Mac seemingly putting the habit in the past. He wanted off the purple drank because, in his mind, it was making him fat and he didn’t like being on TV with his appearance. According to Mac he was able to just quit on will power. He got the results he was looking for and shed around 30 pounds, however the newfound sobriety was short lived.
When summer of 2014 rolled around, Mac found himself in a dark place once again. There was another low, followed by another apparent breakthrough. Mac discussed this period of life in a 2015 Grantland interview, “So I’m fucked up in Europe one day, and I drunk-dialed Rick Rubin. I was like, ‘Rick, dude, I’m fucked up, will you help me?’ So I went and kicked it with him for the summer in Malibu. And got clean. For two to three years, I was just numb,” mentions Mac while reflecting on the period. “So when you’re coming out of that, it’s all going to come out at once. I was crying every day.” Mac brings up a profound truth about coming out of active addiction.
The drugs numb you, then you’re physically sick a couple weeks. For me, this wasn’t the hard part, after a month or two is when things got difficult. After drying out a month, is when the constant numbing dope provided thaws out. There is no gradual return of feeling, but rather the buildup of suppressed emotions kick you in the teeth like an overwhelming cascade of raw unfiltered energy. This goes on sporadically for months without predictability. I cried a lot, just like Mac, and there was no rationale to what might bring one of these episodes on.
A few years rolled by and Mac seemed to be in a good place: 2015, 2016, and 2017 all came and went without drugs appearing to be much of an struggle for him. That could be true, maybe it’s not, either way I expect more details in the coming days. Through his actions Mac reveals another profound truth about addiction. Once you’re an addict you can’t go back to not being one. Pickles make for a good analogy. You can turn a cucumber into a pickle, but once a pickle there’s no way to go back to a cucumber. Addicts are pickles, it’s why relapse is so common and it’s why when someone does relapse there isn’t that same slow progression as their initial descent into abuse. Your brain develops what are called neurolinguistic pathways, and substances trigger these pathways. Even if they’re dormant they do not go away.
This year In May, shortly after breaking up with Ariana Grande, Mac wrapped his G-Wagon around a utility pole. The story goes that he took off from the scene, confessed later at his home where he blew two times the legal limit, and ended with charges of DUI as well as a hit and run. Shortly after the incident Ariana tweeted, “Pls take care of yourself.”
Fast Forward to the now, Mac lost the battle. A battle more and more people find themselves facing each year against an enemy with a penchant for bloodlust. His struggle is over and I pray Malcolm McCormick’s soul finds peace as he rests. It is time to stop idoly sitting back as more friends, family, and neighbors fall into this reality. In memory of Malcolm Mac Miller McCormick. Your story could be mine, appreciate today and keep all things in perspective.