I recently read an article by Sandy Swenson entitled, “I Did Not Cause My Son To Become An Addict”. Her article is “Spot On”! Unfortunately, I hear too many parents ask, “What did I do wrong?” They experience blame, guilt and shame. They haven’t a clue that they enable the addict. Worse yet, they themselves are co-dependent and in need of recovery. I truly hope your article reaches the multitude of parents who believe that it is “their fault”. I hope they come out of their own denial and seek recovery for co-dependency, which is as serious as addiction itself in many cases.
Addiction is a family “disease”. Every family that has a “user” also has an enabler. Every addict needs at least one! An enabler will protect the addict, make excuses for them and manipulate so that the user does not have to face consequences of the addiction. If there is no enabler, the addict is forced to face the consequences of their own actions, and that usually will prevent them from using.
If you’re sick because of cancer, you go to a doctor for help. If you’re sick because of addiction, you SHOULD get help! Instead, you hide the disease because of the stigma, shame and guilt attached to the word. The stereotype of addiction … a stumbling drunk, crack houses, dirty needles, alley transactions. NOT!!! In reality, it is your son or daughter, your spouse, your neighbor, your co-worker. And, too often, it’s the legal stuff distributed in our local pharmacies, supermarkets and convenience stores.
Addiction is rarely a problem by itself. The “real” issue is the circumstances in a person’s life that led to the addiction in the first place. It could be something, anything or everything in a person’s past. Finally, it’s not simply drugs and alcohol … It’s the gambler, the sex addict, the food addict, the relationship addict. If the stigma goes away, so does the denial that prevents people from getting the help they need.
Personally, I love people in recovery. They are some of the strongest, most transparent, most courageous and loving people I know. They’ve come out of their denial. They have nothing to hide. They have no ulterior motives when they reach out and help another person. And, they know what it’s like to experience the stereotype response, but choose to rise above it. Who better to help an addict or codependent than someone who has walked in their shoes?
It is not enough to simply achieve sobriety or abstinence. The real cure is done by changing the way one thinks. A person must know that they have value. They have purpose. A person must be taught coping skills that empower them. It is when those things are discovered and put into practice that the real battle can be fought and won. This is the basis of the Faith Farm Ministries’ recovery program: a 9-12 month, faith based, recovery program that heals much more that simply an addiction. Our residents benefit from full physical, emotional and spiritual healing at no cost to them, and return to their families as better spouses and parents, ready to serve and become productive citizens of their communities.