THE EMPTY CHAIR SHOW – The Stigma of Addiction

empty chairBy: Phil Lahey – February, 2014

Everyone knows that addicts are low life people who deserve what they get for choosing a life of addiction. Hell, I felt the same way right up until the time I found out my daughter was a heroin addict. My first thoughts were what would people think? How can I make her better? That my friends, was the beginning of a long and painful education into the world of addiction.

For the first couple of years I did not know what to do or who to talk to. My knowledge of fighting addiction consisted of Nancy Reagan telling everyone to “Just say no.”

I was one of the lucky ones because my daughter is not only still alive, but has been in recovery for the last 5 years. Together, we do a TV show on M.C.T.V, and also seen on YouTube called theemptychairshow.

If you have not seen any episodes I ask you to at least watch the episode titled “A Mothers Worst Nightmare.” Our guest is Betsy Cote who lost her son to addiction less than a year ago. Betsy is a very courageous woman whose only motive for doing the show was to convince people that it can happen no matter where you live and how you were brought up. It is her hope that by sharing her story, she may prevent other families from going through the heartache that she and her family has suffered.

I would like to tell you about one other guest we recently had on our show. Methuen Police Chief Joe Solomon told the story of a family member who also died of an overdose. So why would Chief Solomon, Betsy and so many other guests reveal their personal experiences to the public? Simple, they are trying to make people aware and hopefully help others realize there is no need for shame, embarrassment and guilt. It is their hope that people will step out of the shadows and reach out for help.

Recently we’ve organized a task force that was spearheaded by Representative Dianna DiZoglio. It is my hope that this task force will have a two pronged attack. One being on the State level where Rep. DiZoglio will file legislation with the input of the task force. The other would be to attack this on the Community level. Those on our task force welcome you in the Greater Lawrence area and beyond to join us in our fight to erase the stigma of addiction. I call out to all our local politicians, parents, people who work in recovery, people in recovery and anyone who would like to be involved.

If you are interested in joining our army or if you have any questions, please call me at 978-557-9235 and ask for Phil. My website is or I can be reached on my Facebook page called The Empty Chair. I look forward to hearing from you!

Till next time.

Phil Lahey is a former Methuen City Councilor. You can reach him at,