Let me start with a quote from one of our moms:
“. . . drowning in despair…watching you die right before my eyes.”
When I read these words written by a member of The Addict’s Mom, I immediately understood. Any mother who has had a child with a disease understands. Any mother who listened to doctors tell her how sorry they are to tell her that her child has cancer, leukemia, diabetes, cystic fibrosis, or any other chronic, life threatening disease knows how this mother feels. We all feel like we are “drowning in despair.”
However, addiction is a disease where only other mothers of addicts understand. No friends rush to comfort and console a hurt and grieving mother of an addict. No plans are made to bring hot meals to an addict’s mom. No Hallmark cards come with comforting messages to say so sorry to hear your child is ill. No one calls to see if they can help in anyway, or to let you know they are there, if you need to talk. We have mothers who cannot even go to local grief support groups after the loss of their child to addiction because of resentment from other parents.
The family, especially the mother, is left in the solitude of despair without a real support system. When it comes to addiction, myth, misinformation, and outdated, ineffective treatment still prevail. It a disease where some well-meaning, but misguided person will tell a mother her child just needs more willpower. Can you imagine any sane person telling a mother of a child with diabetes that they lack willpower? Can you imagine anyone telling a parent whose child just died from cancer that it was a choice?
If a mother of a child with diabetes, leukemia, or aids was told treatment couldn’t start until their child reached a crisis or until the symptoms became severe there would be protests from all sectors of society. What would happen if a diabetic teen was left untreated until they lapsed into a coma? You would hear such public outcry and people would investigate.
But this is not the case for the addict. Moms beg and plead for help, for information, and intervention, but are often forced to wait by myth, by apathy, by lack of health insurance, or worse health insurance that won’t cover the treatment. Mothers are often forced to wait until the symptoms of addiction become so severe that their child faces criminal charges, and they will. Criminal charges are often part of the progression of this disease if left untreated. They may even have to wait until, as one mother posted recently, they find their “child not breathing with a needle still in their arm.” Even worse is the lack of support mothers whose children have died from drug overdose receive. Grieving mothers of addicts tell me they have been made to feel unwelcome and even asked to leave local grief recovery groups.
On top of this, we have family-members, friends or complete strangers weigh in by daring to say that our child did this to themselves and therefore doesn’t deserve sympathy or help. This just compacts the despair and lack of support addicts moms deal with and leave them to silently retreat in pain, shame and despair. I did, until I found “The Addict’s Mom.” Joining “The Addict’s Mom,” was the beginning of new hope for me. Through the stories and voices of other members, through the resources and inspiration, I discovered I had also been living with my own myths about addiction. Most of all I found the support I needed, and our members tell us they have found the support of other moms helpful as well.
Now when personally confronted by people who tell me my son’s addiction was a choice, I ask them “who says so?” I know I have the support of thousands of mothers dealing with a child with the disease of addiction. I know I have the support of medical doctors, psychologists, psychiatrists, treatment professionals and government organization all stating addiction is a brain disease. I have found I can respond by sharing facts, by telling them the dedicated neuroscientists and other professionals who study and understand addiction say this is not a choice. It is important to educate those who don’t understand how the brain is physically changed by the process of becoming addicted. Addiction so drastically alters the brain that people genuinely cannot change without treatment and help. This is not a matter of will-power, it is a matter of biology.
And recently when sharing my story of my son’s addiction at a local conference, for the first time ever, I was given a hug by someone who did not have a child or any other close family member suffering from addiction. This young woman, just heard my story, hugged me and said, “I am so sorry you and your son are suffering.” It isn’t a landslide of support, but it is a small spark. And just maybe this small spark will become a flame, so that other mothers will not find themselves alone, drowning in despair without support.
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For more information and statics data:
You can also sign SAMHSA’s National Substance Abuse Prevention Pledge. www.samhsa.gov/prevention/docs/PreventionPledge_09192012.pdf
Founder – The Addicts Mom
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The Addict’s Mom reaches out to families dealing with addiction. We invite them to join us, where they can “Share without Shame,” the daily struggle, their sorrows, their victories with other families who understand the impact of this devastating disease. We off resources, groups, referrals, but most of all we offer hope and the knowledge that we are not alone in this fight to change perceptions and save lives. The Addict’s Mom is currently registering for non-profit status and growing by the hundreds daily. Find us on Facebook as well as the web. We Are Not Doctors or Therapist. We Do Not Give Medical Advice or Opinions or Engage In The Practice of Medicine or Therapy. Opinions expressed by our members are opinions and should not be used as therapy or medical advice. Always see guidance from your doctor or therapist before proceeding with any treatment or procedure.
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