There are seeds that blow in the wind and are sent helter skelter through forests and fields. Others are firmly planted in fertilized gardens ready and waiting to grow and produce fruit. In these gardens of love and tender care, certain plants grow and as they do, the expectation is for the product of these seeds to be a plant that was promised.
With the seeds that fly through the air, tossed from blades of grass to tumbled, jumbled weeds; these seeds produce the unexpected. In the fields of corn waving in a gentle wind you might find a tall thorn bush or a strange craggy tree may become part of the landscape. No one expects these to be a part of the harvest, yet they are there. And, so it is with addiction.
When are the seeds planted that produce this unexpected, unwanted hell and become a part of a family’s life? No one saw this coming. It was not part of the plan of becoming a couple and having a family, and yet, we are faced with this harsh, thorny presence. It’s not just you but not me. It is my family, as well.
The randomness of seeds being sent far and wide may not be exactly how these family dilemmas begin, yet, dilemmas they are. It is a family epidemic of proportions no one could’ve imagined ten, five or even a year ago. Statistics of over 100 people a day passing away from drug overdose shock our nation until we have become numb and seemingly held hostage to this horror.
We see our families as these patches of land that must adjust, acclimate to this terrible anxiety filled heartache in our lives. The wail on every person’s lips is “WHY?”
Seeds begin as small, innocuous, seemingly nothing-harmless things that infiltrate a space. When did this start, who and what is to blame for these things happening to our family unit?
Addiction appears to be as random as the seeds showing up unbidden. It is not as random, yet, is shocking and difficult. Addiction is generational and universal. The seeds of addiction are planted in the fertile soil of a family riddled with chronic anxiety, miscommunication and family systems with at least one-person demanding perfection in an environment steeped with rules and operated with unrelenting power and control. This seems to be where the seeds find that there is no way out but to grow where they are planted.
It is a gentle, journey of grace that those of us who work in this field take by asking the entire family to work together for the sake of each other.
The member or members of the family who stagger down this deadly path of destruction seem to have willingly chosen this, and often, made a decision to end their lives. As a disease, the choice is not theirs. Yet, substances kill, sometimes quickly with opiates and sometimes more slowly with alcohol. A combination of both of those is sure to kill.
There are answers out in the world a plenty as to why these deaths are happening which lay blame on the family who are already reeling from a diagnosis of addiction as if it were cancer. It is, in fact, a sort of cancer.
The American Medical Association states that Addiction is a disease as it has the three criteria:
It can be diagnosed because there are definite symptoms pertaining to Addiction.
There is no cure.
These diseases are fatal, if not treated.
The journey of love begins by understanding the entire family is being horribly impacted. The ones within the family unit usually deal with the onset of addiction in the family with denial, blaming and secrecy.
Is it possible that learning how to transform our family’s ways of communicating, and finding the ones who are most vulnerable and who hold the most anxiety and self-hate, could affect a change? Can we learn to be honest and open with one another about how we, ourselves, have been raised? Most adults were either raised in addiction or raised by someone who was raised in an addictive environment.
Harm reduction professionals state that methadone, suboxone and narcan are the answers to creating an environment for those struggling with addiction. It is believed this is safer, less harmful, so to speak. Not true. Narcan does not save lives, it prevents death. Methadone and Suboxone allow the seeds of the disease to settle in and make deep roots without addressing the emotional components of what is really going on.
WITHOUT blame, without shaming anyone in our family system, is it possible to acknowledge that seeds of addiction were planted generations ago? The situation we find ourselves in currently shows that we are faced with more lethal ways to numb and cope with anxiety and self-hate than ever before.
Education of what addiction is and the ways we, as a family, can transform ourselves is the journey. We are not alone, yet, we seem to be tip-toeing around these areas where the seeds of addiction have been scattered as if there is no way out. There is a way through this. By working together as a ‘family in treatment’ more will be revealed. It means each person becomes a part of working on themselves and helping to shift a situation from hopeless to hopeful.
If there is love within the family, enough to bring about transformation, there are professionals who are willing to guide and work with them. The very best situation can come out of the very worst.
Let’s talk about it.
Debra Whittam is the author of “I'm I Going to be Ok?" For any media inquiries or questions please contact: Contact@DebraWhittam.com