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Mental Health

Being Black, a Drinker, and HIV-Positive Is a Deadly Cocktail

DMX in 2016

Celeb headlines continue to prove that gettin’ your drink on can sometimes be a fatal flaw.

When DMX entered into treatment at a New England rehab facility last month, the rapper was “nothing but skin and bones,” his lawyer, Murray Richman told TMZ on Wednesday. Fortunately, he has since put back on 40 lbs., sobered up, and is “back to being human again,” said Richman.

Richman adds that although the program is almost complete, he is recommending that DMX (whose birth name is Earl Simmons) stay another 30 days since he's been responding so well.

The rapper had previously been through rehab for his issues with drugs, but continued to drink alcohol and smoke marijuana after treatment. This unfortunately led to excessive drinking and a relapse for the entertainer, and reinforces that, for those with serious addiction issues, complete sobriety may be their only option for a healthy life.

Simmons, who was initially serving house arrest for tax evasion, was able to get a judge to sign him off into rehab. Richman says they’ll re-tackle the court case once his treatment is completed, and that the rapper is “not ruling out a tour in the future.”

Although things are currently looking up for Simmons, other many other celebs (and non-celebs) have not been so lucky regarding their addiction issues, particularly, alcohol abuse.

Drinking is on the rise in women and men of color, this is concerning as it dovetails with the spike in the HIV epidemic among black gay men in the south. Alcoholism among people living with HIV is an issue. Take the three in common and you have a deadly cocktail.

Alcohol — especially for those who’ve had problems with “heavier” drugs — can often be considered the lesser of two evils. “Just let them have a drink, at least they’re not shooting up,” loved ones of an recovered addict might say, but it’s an attitude that can sometimes lead to tragedy.

The tabloids had a field day reporting wild stories about late singer Amy Winehouse’s struggles with drug addiction — though it was acute alcohol poisoning that ended up killing the talented young star. More recently, we lost another young rising star and LGBT icon to alcohol abuse, True Blood’s Nelsan Ellis.

“Nelsan has suffered with drug and alcohol abuse for years,” read a statement from Ellis’s family published in The Hollywood Reporter. “After many stints in rehab, Nelsan attempted to withdraw from alcohol on his own,” which ultimately lead to Ellis’s body shutting down.

“Nelsan was ashamed of his addiction and thus was reluctant to talk about it during his life,” the statement continued. “His family, however, believes that in death he would want his life to serve as a cautionary tale in an attempt to help others.” 

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