Letter to the Editor:
Addiction: A Mother’s Story
The disease of addiction is at epidemic proportions in every town and city across Canada and throughout the world. For the first time in modern history we see the age expectancy decreased because of the number of young people – predominantly in the 20 – 40 year old demographics dying because of drug overdoses due to the toxic nature of the drugs in circulation today.
Lives of those struggling with drug mis-use and those of us who love them, parents, grandparents, siblings, partners, children, live with the devastation the disease of addiction causes.
Too often people keep secret, the struggles of a loved one’s addiction, out of feelings of shame or blame, fear of judgment, and fear of isolation. That secret keeps people trapped.
Would we hide the diagnosis of any physical disease? Not usually. But for some reason we treat diseases that affect the brain, that affect behaviors, addictions, mental illnesses, depression, anxiety, PTSD, differently. As if there is something to be ashamed of. And so we often suffer in silence rather than risk being stigmatized.
One of my five beautiful children struggled for 23 years with hardcore addiction. Addiction has nothing to do with your up-bringing, the moral fabric, weakness, lack or will-power. Having the disease of addiction is solely because of differences in brain chemistry, genetics, your DNA.
I want to thank my friend, the father of my children Doug Bowman for bringing the third edition of my book Addiction: A Mother’s Story into Roy Lane Coffee Shop for Nancy Roy, my dear friend from high school, to read. After reading it Nancy asked me to send her copies for availability in her shop.
Nancy has very, very generously sold my books in her store this past month without taking any commission at all. 100% of all funds generated from book sales goes to helping those I work with living with addiction, homelessness, poverty and hunger and mental illness on the streets of Surrey. B.C. Nancy’s incredible generosity has allowed me to give additional support to those who so desperately need it.
I also want to thank so many people from the community of Sioux Lookout, my hometown, who have now read my story and have written wonderfully thoughtful notes letting me know that my story is also their story. And by reading Addiction: A Mother’s Story they have felt understood. They don’t feel quite so alone in their own family’s struggle with the disease. That their feelings and emotions have been validated.
As well, I have received very thoughtful notes from some in the community who indicated that although they personally have not had to deal with addiction within their own family, that my story allowed them to truly understand the impact of addiction. To the ones we love who struggle while being held hostage to the disease of addiction and to those who love them being held hostage to the behaviors.
Thank you Doug and thank you Nancy at Roy Lane Coffee Shop – by sharing our stories, our experiences, we open a dialogue that can at times be uncomfortable but needs to be shared.
Addiction to drugs and alcohol is a disease. As a society we have to make accessing help more readily available and embrace harm reduction. We have to get to a place where when someone asks for help, it must be immediate. The window of opportunity is often very small. Tragically even a one day delay can be one day to late.
Addiction impacts all of us in one way or another. Knowledge, awareness, compassion and understanding is crucial.
I want to thank the Sioux Lookout community for embracing my story and for your very kind and thoughtful notes. I am humbled.