“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.” Helen Keller
The feeling of being alone, experiencing something that no one else could possibly understand, believing there is no person you can share your “story” with…this is how a young child may feel when they live with someone who suffers from addiction. The process of maturation includes gaining an understanding that we all have shared life experiences, but a child who grows up dealing with an addicted parent or sibling often concludes that their experience is singular. They conclude they are alone.
Sharing one’s story or reading someone’s story about growing up in a home with an addict can provide a realization that you are not alone…armed with this realization you can do much for yourself and others.
Hooked: When Addiction Hits Home
On March 5, 2013, a new book by Chloe Shantz-Hilkes will be published. This is a collection of ten true stories based on interviews with people who spent their childhood living with an addicted parent or sibling. As the Canadian Broadcasting Company (CBC Radio) reports:
“Ultimately, the aim of her book is to let other young people confronting addiction in their families to know that they’re not alone, and to share examples of coping strategies. One of the most lasting results of writing this book for Shantz-Hilkes was developing a deep appreciation for how strong and resilient children can be.”
Calgary Eyeopener aired an interview with Chloe Shantz-Hilkes
Working with family members living with the disease of addiction
Growing up in a family where any family member suffers from a chronic disease can be difficult. You may have had a childhood friend whose parent or sibling suffered from such diseases as diabetes, multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophy, asthma, cancer…the list is endless. However, with the disease of addiction children determine early that they should not admit to or discuss this disease with their friends, teachers, school counselors and maybe even their physicians. And as the years go by, they isolate themselves and find their own ways to cope. As one reader who received an advance copy of Hooked: When Addiction Hits Home eloquently offered:
“The feeling of isolation can be suffocating, trying to take the burden of everything alone can do more damage than the addict themselves. Even though I would have rebelliously scoffed at this book as a teenager, I know I would’ve read it in secret and soaked it in. Living with an addict is a lonely world especially when you fear that something bad may happen to you or the addict if you speak up.”
At Cottonwood Tucson our Family Program serves as an important component for treatment of the addict, as well as educating family members about the disease of addiction and mental health. Additionally, we often blog about addiction as a family disease, as we know our readers are eager to learn about new resources available to all family members.
If you happen to read Chloe Shantz-Hilkes’ new book, let us know your thoughts.