Sticks & Stones

“I look forward to the day when someone has to ask, ‘What in the world is a junkie?’ ”

The other day I walked past a playground.  It seemed like there were hundreds of kids playing and having a ball. They were riding bikes, running, skateboarding and playing Double Dutch. There was so much energy. Everyone and everything seemed to be moving at a thousand miles an hour.  But, amidst all the laughter and youthful chatter I overheard one young boy call another a really, really, really, vulgar name, (the kind of name that got a kid’s mouth washed out with soap). I was amazed at how the young boy who was called the really, really, really, vulgar name responded.  He shrugged it off and simply said, “Sticks and stones can break my bones, but words can never hurt me.”  Then he ran off and initiated a game of “tag you’re it!”

I couldn’t help to stop and think if only it was this easy for people living with a drug or alcohol addiction.  They are called some of the most vulgar words I have ever heard; junkie, crackhead, drunk, abuser, addict and dirty.  And they don’t just shrug it off.  I’m not a doctor.  So I don’t fully understand the epidemiology of this disease, but I do know that these vulgar words can hurt, bring shame and lower self esteem. It can result in someone not seeking treatment because they don’t want to be labled. It can lead to families feeling ashamed and guilty.

So, with the exception of this blog post, I’ve made a personal commitment to never ever use any of these words again.  I challenge you to do the same.  There are 1,025,109.8 words in the English language and millions more from other languages. Surely you can find more uplifting and supportive words.  And if you can’t …make some up.  I look forward to the day when someone has to ask, “What in the world is a junkie?”

DID YOU KNOW?
Your words have power. They can build someone up or tear them down.

When Addiction Hits Home

“Our isolation made us feel like we were the only family in the world with a loved one battling an addiction. We thought we were all alone.”

It seems like yesterday when this photo was taken. Mom, stood proud and tall with her four children; Cerves- her oldest son, Theresa- her youngest daughter and Lawrence and Lorraine- her fraternal twins. It was a few days after my Dad’s funeral that’s why he’s not in the photo.  My older brother and his wife, Liz were headed back to California, so we decided to take one last photo.  On that day, little did I know this would be the last photo with all four siblings.  Over the next few years there would be lots of phone calls, Christmas presents, birthday cards, graduations and celebrations…  but there would never be another photo with Mom standing proud and tall with all four of her children.  On that day, little did I know that a few years later my twin brother would lose his battle with addiction and die from a drug overdose and never again be part of our lives.

Larry (Lawrence) struggled with his addictions for many years and I knew he was struggling that day. I knew because he always wore dark sunglasses whenever he got high.  His sunglasses hid his fiery red eyes which was a dead give-away whenever he got high.  We struggled as a family to try to help him and help ourselves.  We never talked about his addiction outside of the family.  At times we were frightened, confused and overwhelmed, but there was nowhere to go.  No one to talk to.  Our isolation made us feel like we were the only family in the world with a loved one battling an addiction. We thought we were all alone.

FACT:
There are 23 million Americans addicted to drugs or alcohol.