What a journey we have taken over the past 7 years. My firstborn daughter celebrated her 4th year of sobriety last April. I can still remember the shock and total disbelief I felt when I was finally able to admit to myself that she was addicted to heroin. I did not know what this looked like and worse I was in total denial for a long time. At least I was. My wife told me time and time again that something was wrong but I refused to see it, always thinking she was getting better and that she no longer was using drugs to escape her world. This doesn’t happen to families like ours, this does not happen to my child. I believed everything she told me even when there was overwhelming evidence that it was not true.
The thing that was so difficult was in our circle of friends we did not talk about addiction openly and when it was discovered that someone we know had a child with a problem is was whispered in hush tones and judged by our ignorance. The reality was it was all around us and most of us had been touched in some way.
While my daughter was at BRC Recovery we followed her lead on how we would handle this news at home. She decided she wanted to be open so she could help others that might be suffering as well. To be honest I wanted to just get her through the program, bring her home and shut the door while we came up with our story and moved on with our lives. My daughter told me that was not going to be the way she was going to do it. She encouraged us to talk openly about our struggles and share our experience in the hope of helping someone else. We were sitting in our little comfortable foxhole where we thought no one would notice us and soon forget this even happened and the next thing I know she is running back out on the battlefield. I just could not sit and watch her, so I joined in.
I remember when she posted on Facebook a year after she was sober that she was cured from HEP C which is common among heroin addicts. I cringed and called her up to ask her if she really wanted to put that out there. She told me that after she posted it an acquaintance that she had not seen in years sent a message to her. Her friend said she too had HEP C and had been afraid to go to the doctor or tell anyone. She said after reading my daughters post that she called and set an appointment with her doctor and she thanked her for leading the way. All I could say is “I get it now”. My daughter had just taught me what it means to be truly humble.
We have come to find out we have a lot more good understanding friends than we ever realized and while I know there are some that still judge I don’t really care. We have closer relationships with our friends and we have met lots of great people who have shared our path. I know of at least 3 people who have followed our daughter to BRC and they are some of the finest young people I have ever met today.
Each of us must decide how we handle our story and I understand and do not judge those that want to forget and try to move on but I can tell you from firsthand experience that sharing your experience can change lives. I know we wish someone would have been there to give us some advice or just listen but we had no one to call. I am sure many other parents feel the same way.
As society demands a stop to the number of prescriptions written I fear there will be a spike in deaths as those in active addiction turn to heroin as a cheaper alternative. That is going to lead to more families suffering the loss of their sons and daughters. Treatment is the most important part of the equation and by speaking up in any way you feel comfortable we are helping those that battle the disease and honor those that have lost a loved one.