On May 16, Taimi app hosted its annual live streaming show Taimi Talks, where well-known LGBTQ+ people showcase their talents, answer the fans’ questions, and talk about important issues in the LGBTQ+ community. This year, we very lucky enough to have Frankie Grande as one of our guests. In his Taimi Talk, Frankie discussed an issue that affects many LGBTQ+ folks — addiction. Here are the most important and the most touching points Frankie made during his stream.
Frankie started out his Taimi Talk with something that is crucial for understanding addiction, even though it remains a common misconception to this day. That is, addiction is not a moral weakness, and it is not a choice. Since almost everyone is touched by addiction or alcoholism at some point in their lives, it’s very important that we understand that.
“It’s a genetic component in our brain. Addicts make less dopamine and serotonin in their brains, so when we expel our dopamine and serotonin by taking a sip of a drink or doing a drug, it goes all the way down to zero and our bodies do not replenish that dopamine and serotonin very efficiently. So the only way for us to get back up there is to get another drink or do another drug,” said Frankie, referring to the book Being Sober by Harry Haroutunian.
Frankie shared that on May 16, he was 3 years and 11 months sober, which is an incredible feat and something he didn’t think would ever happen. He said his story with addiction had begun very early on in his life when he was addicted to attention as a child. He always tried to get the best grades and the best parts in the shows to make sure he got as much attention as he could.
In his adult life, Frankie’s addiction was triggered by a traumatic event, which is quite common. “I had that horrible break up, and my heart was in pieces on the floor, and I didn’t have any tools to bounce back from that,” he shared. Frankie, who is loved by his fans for his bubbly personality and positivity, felt like he had no other ways to feel happy other than drugs and alcohol. It was the only way he could keep acting like everything was okay.
“It numbed me out so that I could get through the rest of the day. It numbed out so that I could get to the next event. It numbed me out so I could post the next video of glitter and sparkles. And eventually, I didn’t have any more natural love, glitter, and sparkles to motivate myself, so I was just trying to get it through external sources,” said Frankie.
Then Frankie shared one of the hardest and most important realizations he has ever come to — everything happens for a reason. “These things, no matter how terrible they are, and no matter how hopeless it seems in those moments, believe me when I say they’re in your life to make you stronger,’ he says. Frankie himself has learned it the hard way. Once, he reached a point in his life where he would wake up in the morning and his first thought would be the drugs he would be able to do at night after work. “I got to a point where I didn’t want to take my own life, but I didn’t care if my life continued. If you know me, you know how wild that is. I am the biggest lover of life,” he said.
A sudden tragic event became a turning point in his life. A tragedy happened in his family, and he realized that for the first time ever, he couldn’t even help the people who meant the world to him. “I was incapable of helping my family, who is my life,” said Frankie. “When they looked at me and they were like, Frankie, we need your help, and I was like, I got nothing to do but to drink, and drug more, and numb myself more. There was a brief moment when I saw the look of disappointment on my family’s faces, and that woke me up.”
Frankie knew he had to ask for help, even though his family was in a middle of a much bigger tragedy. Just like many other people who struggle with addiction, Frankie found it really hard to do. “I said that I have a problem and I need help. And that is so difficult to do. So if you’re out there and you’re struggling with alcoholism or you know somebody who is, just understand how difficult that very simple sentence ‘I need help can’ be for that person,” says Frankie.
“In that dark, horrible place is where I finally asked for help. I am grateful that that event woke me up long enough to say that I need help, and forced my disease down so fast because I was on a slow trickle towards death, I really was,’’ said Frankie. “And that event just kind of shoved up it right in my face — choose now, life or death. I chose life, it was amazing.”
Frankie shares that he got lots of love and support from his family, and after that, he went to treatment, which was very helpful. “The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) is an amazing resource, and the national helpline is 1–800–662-HELP,” he shared. “Don’t detox alone. For me, I was on so many pills that if I have tried to detox on my own, I probably would have died from the detox. So it’s really important that you have help detoxing. It’s a very dangerous thing to do on your own.”
While the treatment was something that helped Frankie get sober, he recognized that it was the community, the people around him who helped him stay sober. “I went to treatment, and I got clean. I had some wonderful people that surrounded me, that gave me the tools to stay sober,” he shared.
Surrounding himself with the sober community turned out to be crucial for Frankie. The importance of having a supportive community is something LGBTQ+ people know all too well. “If you are gay and you don’t have people in your life to look up to, you find the LGBTQ+ community, and then you’re like, oh my God, wow I can do this, I can be a part of this, I am loved for who I am,” said Frankie.
About Taimi: Taimi is the world’s largest LGBTQ+ platform that features a social network, dating app, and streaming. Taimi offers the safest and most secure user experience on the market — with its several verification layers, 24/7 profile moderation, PIN/Fingerprint/Face ID, and live support. Taimi is the Home of Diversity, and the platform’s main mission is to make the lives of LGBTQ+ people better by creating a safe environment with zero tolerance for judgment, discrimination, hate, or aggression.
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Frankie Grande on Taimi Talks: “Everything Happens for a Reason” was originally published in Taimi Lifestyle & Community on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.