“Drugs took too much from me to ever give anything to them again.”
Like me, you may have heard promos for a new episode of Beautiful Stories From Anonymous People on a variety of podcasts in the last few weeks.
I am kind of living my own version of Orange is the New Black,” an anonymous caller said. “On Monday, my parents and I are taking a road trip which will end with me turning myself in to federal prison for 46 months.”
A life that seems like television
Prior to this episode, I have to admit that I was not aware of the Beautiful Stories From Anonymous People podcast or its format. However, as a tangential fan of comedian Chris Gethard, the idea of him speaking to a woman on the cusp of turning herself in to federal authorities was too enticing to ignore.
Prison Bound is the 121st installment of Gethard’s podcast on the EarWolf network. As per the show’s weekly format, an anonymous caller is connected to Gethard for the purpose of an hour-long conversation.
On this episode, the usual pretense of a relaxed conversation between two peers faded quickly, as Gethard was left bewildered by a caller who is facing a 46-month prison sentence.
The woman, who begins by likening her life to Orange is the New Black, goes on to describe the various crimes she committed with her new husband. Ranging from pushing methamphetamine to drawing a gun on a cartel member, the caller is right to speak in terms that the vast majority of us can only understand through consuming media.
For her, however, changing the channel was not an option. While she spoke with great remorse for her actions and their consequences, she acknowledged that putting her past behind her does not absolve her of its affects.
In a broader sense, the call spoke to not only the nature of addiction, but also provided insight into how outwardly-normal people can be pulled in to a world of nightmares likened only to episodes of contemporary television.
The reality of addiction
If you would have met me 6 years ago I was not the person that would use drugs. I was so [against] even smoking marijuana, and then just the right sort of circumstances happened and I just spun-off out of control.”
The above snippet is one of many that left Gethard audibly stunned. Fortunately, as someone known for speaking openly about mental illness, Gethard isn’t shy about confronting the harsh reality of the situation throughout the episode. In fact, he does an increasingly admirable job of allowing his questions to toe the line between humorous and hard-hitting.
My husband and I don’t look like – I mean, we look like a suburban couple,” the caller added, in an attempt to illustrate the dangerous slope that led to her situation. “That was what the cartel really liked, you know, we weren’t really suspicious driving around because we just looked like a soccer mom and dad.”
The caller explained that before being given an opportunity to pursue rehabilitation, she and her husband were facing a 10-year minimum sentence. Here, she said that she was fortunate that the federal judge dealing with her case was a proponent of recovery, and that she will instead serve at least three years of her sentence and a probation period of five years.
A call to action
As per the judge’s ruling, the episode’s caller was sent to live in a sober living home. This, she explains, played an important role in staying sober, and she now finds herself trying to help others do the same.
At the time of the call, she told Gethard that she faces more than just a sizable prison sentence. In her personal life, she also faces a long road to staying sober and mending her damaged relationship with her children.
The caller further used her time on air to address the audience, speaking about how difficult recovery can be, and how addiction can affect even those that seem like unlikely suspects.
There’s such a stigma to addiction,” she said. “I feel like people think that the only people that use drugs are just lower class people, [and] that they never have to worry about drugs touching their lives.”
“It can hit anyone, and it can happen so quickly that you won’t even realize it. […] My husband and I could be just anybody close to you, and you would just be shocked at how easy it is for drugs to find their way into any walk of life, it doesn’t discriminate at all – it’s not a lower class thing.”
Here, Gethard responded to the caller with an earnest plea for listeners to seek out support avenues for addiction and to take immediate action in going to local recovery meetings. He added that even in his own life, he has lost several friends to heroin.
If you see something like that – if you have [an addicted] family member, please don’t turn your back on them. Go to a meeting with them,” the caller added. “Just try not to be so quick to judge people that have problems.”
Ultimately, Prison Bound is a standout moment for not only Gethard – who also hosts The Chris Gethard Show on TruTV – but for podcasting as a medium. Follow the link to listen to the episode in its entirety.