Monday, June 2, 2014

Breaking The Stigma

You are not alone. Four simple words but being the parent of an addict is the loneliest and most desperate place I have ever been.

What I found out long into the process is that we feel lonely because we choose that place. There isn't something from on high that dictates this is our problem and others cannot be troubled. We choose this because not only of the stigma of addiction for our loved one but also the stigma of being the "parent of an addict." Over and over we replay their childhood, what could we have done different, what did we miss, if only.....

A parent playing those games with themselves makes for poor company to anyone but another parent suffering through the same trauma. Just because a person hasn't been in your shoes does not mean they do not have the capacity to support and love you.

A big part of our problem lies in the public stigma of addiction. Addiction still is perceived as a flaw in a persons character, not a disease as it is recognized by the medical community. Even today I hear people say that when we call addiction or alcoholism a disease that is nothing more than an excuse, cop-out or simply permission for an addict or alcoholic to use or drink, "I can't help myself, I have a disease."

To break the next barrier in developing treatment for our loved ones is to break the stigma.

Drugs are illegal. Many of the symptoms of the disease involve illegal behavior, stealing, dealing, driving while impaired. I am not saying make drugs legal. Now I understand that being addicted to drugs involves multiple levels of illegal activity and many times those activities are symptoms of the disease.

An addict must suffer the natural consequences of their illegal activities but there comes a time the "system" must recognize and deal with these symptoms in a different manner in which it does today. Current methods used in the criminal justice system has had minimal effect in our treatment of addicted individuals. "The War On Drugs" has turned into "The War On Addicts". Today we are doing the same thing that has been done for 50 years with the same miserable results. The strategies being employed by the justice system were developed before our children were even born and they still work just as poorly then as they do now.

From my point of view this is one of the root causes for the stigma surrounding addiction and alcoholism. This keeps us parents and society from standing up and demanding different treatment than what has been failing for so long.

I want to rid myself of the stigma. That is why I am public with my name and contact info.

I am the parent of a son that was addicted to drugs. Today he is clear and sober, a father, home owner and a contributing member of society. Your addicted child does not have to be clear and sober to stand up to the world and be proud of them and to show them they are loved.

We are proud loving parents.
We all should be proud loving parents.

13 comments:

Anonymous said...

You two are awesome. Thank you for making a stand.

Annette said...

I linked over to this post....such a great post and I LOVE the picture. Such a kind couple.

Kate said...

Thank you so much for your words. Together, we will break the stigma by speaking out about this disease. There is so much strength in your words and so many people will benefit from hearing them. Thank you!

Kate Co-Creator of www.iamnotanonymous.org

Tom Moore said...

Right on! My motto...

Share your story
Stop the stigma
Save a life!

I am not ashamed. I tell my story to everyone.

kel said...

I am right there with you!! I tell anyone who will listen how my son started using heroin right around Halloween and was dead a week after New Years Day. Literally. This drug kills and we have to stay aware.

Maija said...

You were here when I needed you! I am happy to say, that by God's grace, my son is sober and we are enjoying him so much! I finally took the necessary steps for self and family preservation to help us. My son did it all on his own- including his recovery! All is in God's hands- I know that now.

Sue Magoo 8 said...

Way to go Ron and Darlene. So neat to see both of your faces on the blog. How did the SM South presentation go? Did I miss your blog on that? So proud to say I know you and your 3 children. I hope all is well. Susan

Sue Magoo 8 said...

Way to go Ron and Darlene. So neat to see both of your faces on the blog. How did the SM South presentation go? Did I miss your blog on that? So proud to say I know you and your 3 children. I hope all is well. Susan

Michelle Richardson said...

Thank you so much for sharing your story. .I have lost friendships with family and friends, due to this disease. .it's heartbreaking.. my husband and I are raising 4 grandchildren and are world sadly is just us. all holidays are just us. No invites to anything. . So sad. God bless you and.your family.

Dad and Mom said...

Thank you Susan, I am grateful and proud to know you and everyone that reads and comments on my blog. Without the help and love of so many people I know that Darlene, Alex myself or any of us would be where we are today.

Tori said...

LOVE THIS POST!!!!

Addiction-A Mothers Perspective said...

Great post, and something that every POA needs to hear.

Syd said...

I have wondered a lot about the reasons people don't ask for help and would rather go it alone with any kind of addiction. I suppose it is shame and fear that the disease is so awful no one wants to admit they need help. But there does come a point when one needs a life ring, rather than drowning. You have provided a lot of help to people.