Comedian Artie Lange says his dead father sent him a secret word of support in rehab

Comedian Artie Lange says his dead father sent him a secret word of support in rehab

Battling addiction isn’t easy, but Artie Lange says he’s been getting some support in his recovery from someone beyond the grave.

The former “MADtv” star, who was arrested in a halfway house for violating his drug court program in May, opened up about his struggle with addiction in an interview on New Jersey 101.5 radio station published Tuesday.

In the interview, Lange recalled how he’s felt the support of his father, who died about 30 years ago, through his recovery.

According to Lange, before his father’s death, the two chose a code word so Lange would know if his father was sending him a sign.

“My old man was about to die, and he kind of knew it,” Lange said. “We were talking, and he said, ‘Why don’t we have a word,’ me and my dad. ‘Like a secret word, that if you ever see this word, you’ll know I’m taking to you and I’m watching out for you.’ ”

The word they decided on was “Otis,” Lange said, because Lange’s grandfather was a factory worker at Otis Elevator Co.

Years went by and, though Lange said he’d see the word “every once in a while,” he never thought, “Wow, that’s really like he’s talking to me.”

Then Lange got to rehab, where he said he met a former prisoner who claimed to know his father.

“He said, ‘Artie I knew your dad,’ ” the comedian recalled. “I knew your father, and, you know, your father hated drugs. Your father was a crazy guy, but he hated drugs. He would hate that you would become a drug addict, but he would love that you’re getting better.”

“I love seeing you,” the man continued, according to Lange. “He was crying. ‘It’s almost like I’m talking to you for your dad.’ And he hugged me, and he goes, ‘He would love that you’re getting better. Please do this for your dad.’ ”

As they got to know each other more, Lange said he asked the man what prison he was in.

“And I swear to you, he said, ‘Otisville,’ ” Lange recalled. “I got taken aback. … I told him that story, and he started to cry. I said, ‘That is the single most spiritual thing.’ Not just Otis, like, Otisville. Like a land of Otis.”

Lange said the word has come up in his life more since this incident. The first thing he saw on one of his stand-up gigs after rehab was an “Otis Elevator truck,” he recalled.

“Now it’s like, ‘Get the hell out of my way!’ ” he joked.

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Lange’s time in the drug court system dates back to a May 2017 traffic stop on the Garden State Parkway in New Jersey. Lange was originally charged and placed on probation, but violated probation by using drugs, said Katherine Carter, spokeswoman for the Essex County prosecutor’s office. A judge ordered Lange to jail, but he applied and was accepted into drug court, which landed him in a residential treatment program.

Lange has struggled with substance abuse through his life. He’s been vocal about his addiction. In December, he tweeted about using cocaine shortly after leaving rehab.

“I’m a bad addict,” Lange tweeted. “I had to see if I could get high. It was awful.”

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