My name is Marsha Stone, and I am a person in long term recovery. I am gratefully sober and serene today, but this was not always the case. For years I was in and out of rehabilitation facilities, desperately trying to arrest my illness, all the while, hurting friends and families alike with the collateral damage associated with alcoholism.
There are so many misconceptions in this country and throughout the world about what addiction means, and further about what recovery means. Many see alcoholism and addiction as an illness of the weak willed, a moral failing of some sort, and at worse a blatant disregard for self and others.
I remember as a child hearing my precious grandmother describing her two alcoholic brothers. She would talk about how much she loved them, of their quick wit, handsome appearance and then sigh and say, “The way they are…it’s such a shame they don’t want to quit…They don’t have to drink, they are just too selfish and weak to stop. They’re throwing their lives away.”
In fact those two uncles both died early deaths from the disease of alcoholism. In those days treatment was scarce, and stigma and ignorance were rampant. People hid the truth about themselves and their family members struggling with addictive disorders out of shame and of fear of public scorn. I ask you- has much changed?
If you line up ten out of ten people and ask them whether an alcoholic chooses to drink, or an addict chooses to use, most of them would answer yes. It seems obvious doesn’t it? No one is putting the glass to your lips or the substance into your body. It’s a voluntary act, clearly it seems. Or is it? Clear as mud….
I have wondered before if I would be among the judgmental and misinformed had I not found myself in a position to be suffering from an illness I did not understand, and desperate for a solution, any solution, in order to avert continued misery, and ultimately death. My guess is I would have assumed alcoholism and addiction were a choice, and proceeded to judge accordingly. Thankfully that was not to be my experience.
Not only has my struggle with alcoholism informed me about the truth of its origins and its solution, it has also opened up a huge world that I never even knew existed. On October 4, I will travel to Washington, D.C. and hear my husband speak about his recovery, joined by friends and strangers alike as we Unite to Face Addiction. This momentous and historic occasion will mark the first time in our nation’s history where people are joining together to face and speak of addiction, to break the silence and the stigma.
United we will stand. I can’t imagine what this event will be like, what it will feel like. I like to imagine that we are doing this for ourselves, and for future generations. But I also love the idea of our alcoholic ancestors, including my uncles, looking on with pleasure and pride. We have something they never did – truth and understanding, and the ability to openly put faces and stories to recovery. Oh yes, we understand, and it’s hard to hate up close. #TYG
Marsha Stone, CEO
Marsha Stone, CEO