< A recent educational workshop on “Understanding the Addicted Brain” held by Drug Crisis In Our Backyard in Putnam County, New York.
Outside New York Senator Charles Schumer’s office, May 19, 2016. The group had just met with one of the Senator’s aides asking for the senator’s support of both passage and appropriate funding for the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act. >
In each photo above it’s possible to play the Sesame Street game “One of These Things is Not Like the Others.”
The answer, sadly, is “a man.” Certainly in the second picture the answer is also, “a father.” I know. I’m the father wearing a shirt with a picture of my son, William, who died following an accidental heroin overdose.
I’ve said this before. What I’ve come to observe as I’ve spent time reading, writing and engaging with people involved in drug education, treatment and recovery is that men are, way too often, among the missing. I’ve studied pictures and videos of rallies and marches and meetings. I pay attention to numerous postings on social media. There are plenty of women involved, mothers especially. Fathers are in noticeable short supply.
We can speculate about why so few men are afraid or unwilling to ask for help, or to participate openly and vigorously in the battle against substance use issues. There ought to be no speculation about how our reticence to come forward and deal with addiction openly only serves to perpetuate the shame and stigma that keep the individuals afflicted, their families and the community at large from moving forward toward solutions to this epidemic.
The other day I ran across this post on Facebook:
My first reaction was, “What about me?” I lost my son. I can always use a few hugs. I’m grateful for those I’ve received, literally and figuratively. Then it occurred to me that it is possible men have fled the emotional territory surrounding addiction so completely that women are left alone, to plead for a hug on Facebook.
All of us, men and women alike, who contend with family members, especially children, suffering from substance use disorder, are haunted by loss. Whether potential or actual, loss and the change that comes with it become the moth holes in the fabric of our lives. What becomes frayed and torn, especially for men, is our ability to talk about what haunts us, to tell our stories.
This week I had the opportunity to talk with Don Downey, a father who lost his son, Kyle, only several months ago. We talked about handling grief, coping and figuring out what to do surrounding addiction issues that can enable our sons’ lives. Don wrote me an e-mail later in which he said: “I would very much like to place my feet in the…line and walk with you. Men need to start carrying some of the responsibility for issues of the heart. In truth, this epidemic is a present threat to us all and men have always stood up to threats. It should not all be on the shoulders of our brave women.”
Perhaps this Father’s Day can be a day where fathers everywhere can emulate Don. We can begin to be fathers in a fuller sense, to reach out, to share our stories, and to pass out a few hugs. Who knows? We might even get one back.
Families concerned about a loved one using heroin or any drug of abuse can contact our toll-free Helpline at 1-855-DRUGFREE (1-855-378-4373) where they can speak with a caring and trained specialist who will listen, help develop a plan of action and identify community resources.
Help us end the heroin epidemic in our country. Please visit drugfree.org/heroin to gain an understanding of this vital issue and learn how you and others in your community can take action to affect change. #endmedicineabuse
Read Bill’s blog post Yankee Fan Reflects on October Baseball, Loss & Ending the Silence on Addiction.
The post This Father’s Day I Invite Dads to Help Fight the Heroin Epidemic appeared first on Partnership for Drug-Free Kids.
Communities across the country – regardless of geographic location or economic status – are experiencing an alarming uptick in deaths related to heroin overdose. So why is this happening? Why are so many teens becoming addicted to heroin in this day and age, when it seems nearly everyone knows the dangers of this drug? It’s beginning with something you might have at home right now. Nearly half of young people who inject heroin start by abusing prescription drugs.
To help you understand how the transition happens and what you should be aware of to keep your family and community safe, we’ve developed an interactive infographic. Follow the journey of a teen; hear stories from families who have been down this road; and find the tools you need to take action – whether you’re a parent, health care provider, educator or community member.
Need help with a family member’s substance abuse problem? Call our toll-free helpline at 1-855-DRUGFREE and talk to a specialist today.
Opioid addiction is ravaging our communities. The time to take action against this epidemic is now. Learn more >
Resources like this are available free of charge because of generous donors. Please consider making a donation now so we can continue to help families every day. We appreciate your support.