I don’t like sharing personal issues with people I don’t know, especially on social media. I often wonder why people find the need to share the details of their maladies in public. I really don’t need to know about color of the phlegm you just coughed up or the festering boil on your ass. Really people: TMI!!! That’s why you’ll never see me post anything about my health or personal family issues. But I do have one exception to that self imposed rule. If you know me or my immediate family, you know what that exception is. I share this because I believe there is a a great void in the understanding of the problem of addiction. My hope is that others who have not faced the challenge will learn just a smidgen from my experience. I won’t go into details here, so here is my short message to those who have family members with addiction problems:
Get informed! What you think you know about addiction is likely to be wrong. Even the word rehabilitation is a misnomer. Because of that, it is vital that you learn everything you can about it. Do not trust what anyone tells you about. Don’t trust your doctor. Don’t trust your best friend. Don’t trust your neighbor who has a child with addiction problems. Their opinions are often just that: opinions. And though offered with good intentions, they can often be harmful. If you really want to help, knowing the truth and realities will help both you and your loved one who is struggling. But you cannot find the truth easily. It will require much hard work. If you choose to accept the caricature and stereotypes, you are destined for disappointment and failure. Just know that there is no single answer to the problem. Before you begin your journey to educate yourself, you must understand one important, yet seemingly counter-intuitive axiom: The cause of addiction has nothing to do with the substance being abused.
Today marks the end of a year that my daughter began rehabilitation for addiction to opiates and opioids (yes, there is a difference). I spent much of that time educating myself, weeding through mountains of websites, blogs, opinions, literature, and academic studies. I have awarded myself a Master’s Degree in Addiction Studies. Does that make me an expert? Not a chance. No more than my MBA made me an expert in business. But it did make me smarter and more informed than 99 percent of those who’ve never been exposed to the dark world of addiction. There’s plenty more to learn, but at least I’ve gotten beyond the chaff. And if there’s one important thing to understand, the subject of addiction is littered with more chaff than anyone should have to endure. That it took me a year to learn these things is a sad, but inevitable fact.
The first thing to understand is that there is no single source of information from which you can safely gain an understanding. It takes a lot of work and a lot of research. If there was ever a subject about which one should apply critical thinking, it is the subject of addiction and the world of so-called remedies. If you ask me for advice, I will refer you to what I’ve learned, but every single addict is different and there is no single solution to gaining and maintaining sobriety. This is why I will never tell you what will work or what will not work.
Today, I want to wish my daughter a Happy Anniversary. She began a new life a year ago. She’s had some challenges and some slip-ups along the way, but she marches on, and for that I am grateful and proud of her. Today, my daughter is sober. Today my daughter is alive. For these, I am thankful. I remain hopeful. I pray I can get up each morning for the rest of my life and say these things.