Dear Artie,

I have been one of your biggest fans since way before many people ever heard of you.

I was lucky enough to see you on stage in the early 90s, when you performed in an improv group with a mutual friend of ours. That same friend produced an independent film that you were featured in (that no one has ever seen) and of course you were brilliantly funny as always. I had a special interest in that film as that friend used my home for one of the locations. I couldn’t believe you would be in a movie that was shot in my home, and I’ve followed your career ever since, seeing your stand-up a zillion times, listening to you over the years on Stern, reading your books, (showing up at book signings like a loser) watching every episode of mad tv, and your movies and just generally embracing your wonderful “Artie-ness.”

We’ve met several times over the years, but maybe you were too high to remember. I finally snagged a coveted lunch with you, years ago, but had to back out due to a nasty stomach bug. I still regret that sickness more than any other.

I was so distressed every time I heard about your substance abuse problems, but had faith that you would rally — 'cause after all, you’re Artie Lange! You always get back up again! Everyone who’s ever met you has said you are the sweetest, most genuine, most down-to-earth famous guy there is. And I agree. Also amazingly talented. And I don’t want you to die. (First of all, that would be sooo cliché — the fat funny guy dying of a drug overdose. That’s sooooo overdone! And You are ANYTHING but a cliché.)

In light of this, I have reason to feel positive:

You told my friend Steve Trevelise on the air the other night that you’re ready to get clean and you’re going to rehab. But you’ve said that before. And you’ve been to rehab before. Maybe the other times, you said it lightly, without realizing what that would entail. Maybe you weren’t really ready. Maybe you weren’t adequately prepared for the harsh reality of rehab, or the grueling task ahead of you. Maybe you STILL aren’t.

So In the interest of relapse prevention, I want to remind you of the sobering experience you’re about to embark upon. Just so you can be honest with yourself. Remember, Artie, When you’re in that rehab facility, you won’t feel like a star, the way you have for the past 25-plus years. In fact for the most part, You won’t feel good about yourself at all. You will be surrounded by people you feel you have little to nothing in common with, yet you have the one thing in common that matters there: you’re all addicts.

You’ll feel horrible physically and mentally way before you feel better. And you can’t take a drug to help you cope. It will be the most difficult thing you’ve ever had to do, and your chance of success is slim: According to the National Institute of Drug Abuse, 85 percent of individuals relapse within a year or treatment and men are more likely to. You have to know this going in and fight hard to be in the 15 percent. The most common reasons for relapse are stress, negative mood, anxiety, drug-related cues, temptations, boredom and lack of a positive environment. You are loved by so many and have the means to surround yourself with positive people, so look out for those triggers and don’t fall for them.

You may not have hit your rock bottom, yet, but if you get out of rehab and relapse, you may. And if you do relapse (and I pray that you do not), I want to remind you of a tweet of yours I read last year that said “No matter what, I promise you guys, if I get knocked down on the canvas I will always get up.”

So keep that promise to us, your fans, and to yourself. And we are rooting for you. And we love you. Come back clean and sober and make us laugh again.

Oh, and by the way, you owe me a lunch.

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