My adult son is a drug addict: currently an addict in very early recovery. He has been in and out of detox and sober living so often that I have honestly lost count. I haven’t even written down the date of his last detox.

My hopes have been shattered so many times throughout the years. But maybe the current sober living situation will work? Maybe this time he will conquer the beast?

I often ask myself this, as he has struggled for years with this disease. He has deceived, lied, stolen, overdosed and caused so much hurt and pain to all who love him. He is killing himself and I can’t help him. I can only hope for the day that he will truly commit to recovery, or he will be in the mortuary with a toe tag, another victim of the opioid crisis.

I know what you are thinking.

“My child would never become an addict.”

“My child is from a ‘good’ home and is smart and knows better.”

“I raised him well.”

“My child is not a loser.”

“My child would never be so stupid as to do drugs. He knows better. He would never shoot poison into his veins. Only stupid and ignorant people do that.”

I thought that, too.

The beast of addiction and shame lives within him. I loathe this beast that lurks in my son, but I love my son and I always will. His smile lights up a room. His heart is kind. All of this vanishes when he is captured by the lurking beast.

Addiction is a stigma. While there is more awareness and help, it is still a mostly silent disgrace and a shame in the eyes of the public. The shroud needs to be lifted. People judge and disparage the addict, but if my son had any other life-threatening illness, my friends and few colleagues who know of his addiction would ask after him once in a while. Instead, almost total silence. Certain “friends” of over 25 years no longer mention his name. That hurts. But what if it were their son in the throes of a confounding disease? Wouldn’t you ask after their son if he had a life-threatening disease? Or rather, do you choose to ignore the very existence of the addict who is my child?

So the next time you skip the article in the paper about another overdose or the opioid epidemic, pause to consider that this person was someone’s child, sibling, spouse or parent. This person had been loved. This person had a family and friends.

Nevertheless, I still  have hope. I need this hope. I must have hope for his recovery.

Read more stories from Maine at www.pressherald.com/meetinghouse.

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