Tommy Wilson: We all need someone to lean on

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Anyone can fall foul of alcohol addiction. Photo/file
Anyone can fall foul of alcohol addiction. Photo/file

A mate of mine ran out of gas recently.

It wasn't the type you fill up with at the bowser but the type of fuel we all need to keep our engine of life running smoothly, and for most of us at some stage of our journey - holding on to this huge rock called Earth as it hurtles through the universe, we have all run out of gas at some time.

It's hard to know what to do when this happens to your mate but when they choose to top up with an alternate fuel, in this case the fire water variety, the time to tautoko is right now, and not wait until rock bottom is reached and the bad petrol has poisoned the tank.

When the need to 'top up' the tank comes calling like a croupier offering elixir of life odds and before you can shout "Gasoline Alley" - the short term gains are long gone.

No one chooses to deliberately self-medicate on pirau poison and alcohol is the quickest fix on the menu of these medicines. There is a poorly-informed opinion that alcohol is off the radar when it comes to the perceived mind altering drugs.

Recent research suggests the opposite but often this research is buried by those who stand to lose the most - the alcohol industry.

We don't look for faltering footsteps when they present themselves as they did with my good mate.

While many were aware, most chose to look the other way as he struggled.

When you are good or even great at what you do the demand for your talents grow and before you know it you are on a treadmill of speaking engagements where to refuse is to almost trample on the mana of those who want you to be there for them.

And so we run out of gas.

We all need someone to lean on when we run out of gas, when our mind and body are free falling on foreign fuel, and just like my mate I was faced with similar challengers 11 years and 5 months ago.

Thankfully my whanau and friends were there to catch me.

So how does this happen, this emptiness when you can't cope anymore and your tank is empty?

In my experience you keep giving and giving and the more you give the more people seem to want, especially in circles where most have very little, and in the end you have nothing left in the tank.

It was as simple as that and I know my mate has travelled the same road and will be travelling down the same road to recovery as I did almost a dozen years ago.

What I find most interesting is the widely held belief that only the weak, the poor and the hedonist fall to the fuel of firewater or for that matter any fuel that promises short term relief from whatever the pain is you are suffering from.

Just because you are captain of your team, leader of your church, kaumatua of your marae or knowledgeable keeper of your culture and language, addiction knows no boundaries when it comes calling to a tank almost on empty.

When we come across someone on the side of the road who has run out of gas it is almost a natural instinct to stop and help them out. That's what we Kiwis do. Not that long ago a very famous drummer had run out of gas in his brand new black Bentley and my daughter and I pulled over to help. It was a natural reaction as was his gratitude and now it seems his tank has been cleaned out and he is running on good fuel.

So when you see a brother, a mate or a friend on near empty and about to run out of gas, stop and give him or her a hand.

Don't let them hit rock bottom or free fall on bad fuel. We need all the good people and keepers of our faith and culture we can get right now.

Kia kaha Bro.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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