My name is Beth and I HATE labels. But I want to use them in the hope that I can change your perception about some of them.
I started life as a DAUGHTER of wonderful, intelligent, creative, resourceful and supportive parents.
I am a SISTER with two siblings.
I am a WIFE. Married to a funny, smart, patient man for over 25 years.
I am a MOTHER to two exceptional children, different but equally loved even though they liked to ask that question “If the house was burning down and you could only save one of us, who would you save?” Of course being a “trophy’s for everyone” kind of mom, I always made up a story about saving them both…..and the dogs.
I was a BUSINESS OWNER and EMPLOYER who ran a successful consulting group for many years.
I am the EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR of an education non-profit serving low-income families in Baltimore.
I am a FITNESS INSTRUCTOR.
And I am an ALCOHOLIC who recently celebrated 11 years of SOBRIETY.
We say we are IN RECOVERY but the other term we could use is IN REMISSION.
This is an important distinction because the AMA categorizes addiction as a disease and relapse is often part of having a disease.
But I want you to think for just a moment about your reaction to this label. Would you hire me if you knew this about me? Could I babysit or drive your children somewhere? Alone? Would you trust me?
Although many who know me don’t KNOW I am THAT. I hid it pretty well from others. But eventually I could not hide it from myself so I got help from a therapist who SUGGESTED I might try a 12 Step program.
I did and is has worked for me.
Addiction is a complex disease. The most common symptoms of addiction are severe loss of control, continued use despite serious consequences, preoccupation with using, failed attempts to quit, tolerance and withdrawal.
As a society, there is a stigma about the labels ALCOHOLIC, ADDICT, IN RECOVERY, SOBER. But WHY?
We share funny stories about “Having one too many?” Don’t get me wrong. MOST of you who have “One too many” aren’t suffering from the disease of alcoholism. We have 10 too many! Every night!
I chose to share who I am in this context to change perceptions about what WE look like and WHO we are.
People who are RECOVERING are taking responsibility for their disease. RECOVERY is about getting well, finding ways to support ourselves in not drinking or using and living healthy, productive lives.
And If can reach JUST ONE person seeking help for themselves or a loved one, it will be worth owning this label.
There are 40 million who have a substance abuse problem so what can we do to help?
Educate our children and the medical community to understand that care should be taken when taking or prescribing pain medication. Over 80% of heroin users start with opiates they were prescribed for pain.
Advocate for IMMEDIATE TREATMENT. If we go to the ER with a broken leg, they don’t tell us to come back for xrays and a cast in a week.
This is usually the case with addiction and often the window of opportunity you have when an addict is willing to get help closes quickly.
Talk about it….. in ways that help people understand the issues.
Facilitate connections for people seeking treatment. With over 23 million Americans in recovery, there are many willing to share their experience, strength and hope with those struggling with addiction.
Several national organizations are working to solve these problems.
Facing Addiction held its launch in DC with a concert headlined by Stephen Tyler and Sheryl Crow and works to change policy in the areas of prevention, early intervention, treatment, recovery, and research.
As part of their campaign, celebrities, authors and politicians in recovery “came out” to help dispel the stigma surrounding this disease - it doesn’t discriminate.
After you read this, know I am happy to speak to anyone about what has worked for me and other members of my family who are currently in recovery. And for any of you who don’t want to talk to me because it is hard to reach out, find a 12 Step meeting in your area.
For alcoholics and addicts AA or NA.
For parents, friends, partners, spouses or brothers and sisters, ALANON.
Here in Howard County there are several meetings EACH DAY!
Today, I own my label and celebrate recovery.
To contact Beth, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.