Bigger Than Me, Addiction is a Family Disease

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On week 3 of the Bigger Than Me podcast Rocky brings his mom on the show, he wanted her insight on the show as a parent of a child in active addiction/recovery and as someone in recovery themselves. At the age of 15 Rocky’s mom brought him to his first AA meeting. It was Father’s Day, and she thought maybe hearing the experience of fathers who had been through addiction and lost their children in hopes he would get a better understanding of his father who wasn’t in the picture. It didn’t work, and the more Rocky was around the program, the more he tried to set himself apart from it in his mind.

As many newcomers do Rocky compared instead of identifying. He saw these people who had DUIs when he didn’t have a license, people with failed marriages when he couldn’t even get a girlfriend. His mom realized that he had this chip on his shoulder or a “granite boulder” as she put it. She thought maybe it would help him. Due to his thoughts and the image him and many of us had to have an alcoholic in his mind made him separate himself from the meetings and what was being shared.

Rocky’s mother had been through her bought of addiction with Rocky’s father which lead her to shooting dope for years with him until she finally got sober. The one piece of advice she had for those struggling with going down the rabbit hole of addiction is to try to think of the long-term consequences of your actions; she contracted Hepatitis C due to her addiction and Rocky’s father down the line had contracted HIV. She knows most addicts’ minds don’t work that way because they are trying to self-medicating underlying mental health issues that they don’t know that they have. All we know is that we’re in mental anguish and we want it to stop.

Mental health played a huge part in both Rocky and his mothers’ story. Rocky’s mom talks about how she had struggled with depression through her addiction and even before. Rocky is very open about his struggle with bipolar disorder that he still deals with to this day. Just as addiction and recovery are life-long processes so is handling mental health. Having a strong recovery community where many people are dealing with a dual diagnosis, it helps us to grow and learn new routes to help ourselves.  

Life isn’t something any of us get through alone, just like recovery we must work together. It takes a village to raise a child, and many of us genuinely grow up in the rooms of 12 Step Fellowships, and we don’t do it alone.