Is there anything else you would like to add?
The only thing that I would add, and I said it earlier, is if you are facing addiction in your family whether it’s your child or whether it’s your spouse or your parent, just love them and keep loving them. They need that love. They need to know they are loved. They need to know their family is not shunning them, because other people are taking care of that. It’s a hard battle. But I’m not going to give up. And I open myself up to anybody who wants to talk. I get texts and emails all the time. It’s amazing and intimate. It is nice to let people know they are not alone. I’m so elated that I have other people I can talk to about this and know that I am not the only one whose child has this disease. I’m pretty upfront about our story and I’ve talked to Jack about it and asked him if it was okay that I shared. And he said “If it’ll help other people, do it.” Jack’s goal is to work in the field. But he has to get himself better first before he can help other people.
Don’t give up on your child. Children that are supported through their addiction are much more likely to survive than those that are not. We did some tough love by telling our daughter she could no longer have her kids. But we didn’t throw her out on the street either. Most importantly, be there for your child. Your child has a disease. You wouldn’t desert them if they had some other disease.
A lot of times where parents will say “I don’t know how you do it.” And I’ll look at them and I’ll say “I don’t know how you have done it because your son has been in prison more than once and he has stolen everything that he could from you guys. We didn’t have to deal with any of that.” So my heart goes out to these families who have dealt with their loved ones’ addiction for years and years and years and all of the negative stuff that comes along with it.
Travis: What we probably didn’t talk much about is family support. We spent most of our time talking about addiction and the person who is in active addiction. We haven’t spent any time talking about what that does to the family. How this impacted our daughters. How this impacted Shelly and I. How this impacted grandparents. There need to be programs out there to support families. The stigma associated with this disease won’t even let me say, “My grandson struggles.” I won’t even say, “My nephew struggles.” Right? Because I don’t want a nephew who is struggling with addiction. So families are held in shame. And so there needs to be more support for families.
Shelly: I’m hearing more and more that the addict is sick but the family is just as sick. And it’s true. It’s not like you’re trying to be, but you’re sucked up into it and you’re dealing with it the best way you can. And you pull 11-year-old and 14-year-old younger siblings into that. That is a lot for a family. I would have done anything to have some kind of support. I had a couple friends who prayed for me and would talk to me, but they weren’t in my shoes. It is incredibly powerful to sit and talk with families that have also gone through this, so I could start feeling like I wasn’t a failure.
Wayne – We are curious about what your project is going to turn into. We hope it will do some good. Sounds like you are going down the right path with this. In yesterday’s paper, there were 2-3 articles on different groups doing different things. One of my vendors said to me “Drug addiction is the most unregulated field. There were 3 articles in the paper yesterday about it. And it seems to be such a mess.” Rehabilitation is unregulated.
Christy – It feels really chaotic to me.
Wayne – We’re incarcerating addicts that committed a crime. The crime needs to be punished. But the main reason they committed the crime is because they have an addiction. And there are no mental health places anymore. That got deinstitutionalized 20-30 years ago. Now people are self-medicating and then commit a crime to get the drugs or they committed a crime while they were on drugs. Now we have a prison system that’s full of mentally ill people and addicts. Look at how jacked up we are? How did we get to that point? If you’re mentally ill, you need help. There should be hospitals for the mentally ill. Mental illness is like outer space. We’re not sure. But addiction – it’s getting a lot of attention now. As it should.