A Graduation Speech

She was graduating from the LHI SOAP program, clean and sober after years of battling addiction.When the medallion was passed to her, she pulled out a crumpled piece of paper and read from the depths of a soul who had finally found the path back. We thought you might like to hear her words - part advice, part poetry and totally from the heart.

Dear Family, Mothers and Fathers, Wives and Husbands, Friends and Family, Loved Ones:

To embrace - we all have to learn to embrace the one in need; in the fight against alcoholism and addiction. Often, instead, it is selfishness that prevails in our society. How many "dealers of death" are there that follow the logic of power and money at any cost! The scourge of alcohol and addiction is that it sows the seeds of suffering and death, its refute requires of society as a whole an act of courage. It is necessary to confront the problems underlying the use of alcohol and other drugs, by promoting greater justice, educating young people in the values that build up life in society, accompanying those in difficulty and giving them hope for the future. We all need to look upon one another with the loving eyes and to learn to embrace those in need, in order to show our closeness, affection and love.

To embrace someone is not enough, however. We must hold the hand of the one in need, of the one who has fallen into the darkness of dependency, perhaps without even knowing how, and we must say to him or her: You can get up, you can get up! You can stand up! It is difficult, but it is possible if you want to. Dear friends, I wish to say to each of you, but especially to all those others who have not had the courage to embark on your journey : You have to want to stand up; this is the indispensable condition! You will find an outstretched hand ready to help you, but no one is able to stand up in your place. But you are never alone! Look ahead with confidence. Yours is a long and difficult journey , but look ahead, there is a sure future, set against a different horizon with regard to the illusory enticements of the idols of this world, yet granting new momentum and strength to our daily lives. To all of you, I repeat: do not let yourselves be robbed of hope! And not only that, but I say to us all: let us not rob others of hope, let us become bearers of hope!

And I wish to repeat to all of you who struggle against addiction, and to those family members who share in your difficulties: that your God is not distant from your troubles, but accompanies you with affection. Your God is near you and will take you by the hand. Look to your God in your most difficult moments and he will give you consolation and hope. I leave you in his hands with great affection and I bless you all.