Tony Luke Jr. knows drug addiction. The cheesesteak scion was hooked on crystal meth as a teen in South Philly and his son, Tony III, died suddenly of a heroin overdose this past spring at age 35. Luke – born Anthony Lucidonio – has seen how addiction can fracture the once rock-solid bond of family first hand, and he hears how the general population treats addicts with such disregard.
“People want to talk about addiction like this is some choice,” an impassioned Luke tells Philly Mag. “NO ONE chooses to ruin my own life and everyone around me. Anyone who thinks that is an IDIOT – totally ignorant and misinformed. You can’t use a blanket statement like that and say it’s a choice. Because addiction is not always a choice and it’s very difficult to get away from. Sometimes it’s impossible.”
Tony III first started abusing drugs when a doctor overprescribed him opioids following an injury. Luke believes that we’re groomed to feel no pain in today’s society, with doctors feeding into that culture by freely handing out prescriptions and refills with only a hollow warning before sending us on our way.
“Just take what you need and stop when you get better – no one’s going to do that!”
After the pills became too expensive, Tony III eventually turned to heroin. He was found dead in the bathroom with a needle in his arm in late March.
“By telling my son Tony’s story, hopefully I can help people understand that drugs have no boundaries,” Luke says. “No matter a person’s circumstance in life, addiction is a possibility. And there is nothing for them to be ashamed of.”
With that thinking in mind, Luke announced a new initiative on Wednesday that he hopes will help remove the social stigma associated with heroin addiction. Luke encourages anyone who has suffered a similar loss of a loved one to wear brown and white (the colors of heroin) and post photos on social media using the hashtag #BrownAndWhite.
Luke stressed that #BrownAndWhite is simply an awareness campaign and he has no plans for fundraising.
“Growing up I knew drug dealers,” Luke says. “They always said ‘Hey Tone, it’s a business – if they aren’t getting it from me they’re getting it from someone else.’ What I want is for everyone who lost someone to put their picture in the window. That way when a drug dealer sees picture after picture he realizes it’s not a business. He’s feeding into a disease that these kids have no control over.”
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