Annette ask: How have you reconciled Alex's right to privacy as you blogged about his addiction and shared his story at schools? Did you have his permission, what about while he was in active addiction?
The privacy thing went out the window when his name was plastered across the front page of the paper of our little town. It was for some minor crimes here in our hometown but in a small town anything is news. It wasn’t like we were famous but most people in our community knew us. I was very active in local politics and with the schools. Darlene was in the schools all the time. His sister was a school leader and very popular. Alex was very popular when he was in school. Privacy for all of us was an illusion, at least it was in the beginning. In the beginning of his addiction and on my blog we tried to hide everything and that didn’t do any good.
Alex went with me once to talk at his old high school. He did great but he had been clean only about 3 months and he told me afterwards it was just too hard. For a while he tried blogging, he knew about my blog and he knew it had helped me. But he said writing wasn’t for him; that was a couple years ago. And, at that time he was trying recovery but relapsing.
In my mind all of those horrible things he did while he was actively using were symptoms of the disease. I've had many of my elderly relatives come down with Alzheimers disease. At times they have done things that would make your hair stand on end some even violence against family members. I was not ashamed or embarrassed of them, I loved them and they had a disease that had some very harsh and terrible symptoms. I have gotten to the point that Alex’s symptoms were nothing more than an indication of another terrible disease.
I compare the symptoms and stigma of addiction today to those that were HIV+ in the 1980’s. At times as a nation it seems we did all we could to destroy the person without understanding the disease. Remember Ryan White? No matter if it is addiction, HIV or any other disease some will choose to vilify the person and never seek to understand the disease, that is their loss.