Tribute for Mothers Fighting Addiction
Author: Justin Mckibben
Mothers are probably the greatest gift we have been given, because with a mother and a child there exists a love beyond what we can accurately describe in so many wonderful words. Mothers give life to the future through their children, and with them the very concept of connection and nurture is born.
As a proud momma’s boy who openly admits that everything good I am is a result of the unconditional love I have for the woman who gave me life and taught me that love and faith is truly all you need, I can say that the mothers of the world deserve our gratitude every moment of every day for giving us life to live.
One thing my mother told me was that compassion and kindness are never out of style, and that if my heart was right my life would be full enough to share it. As we celebrated Mother’s Day this weekend I was reminded of the moments when my actions in addiction brought suffering to my mother, and then I was reminded of the mothers I have known who have battled with their own debilitating dependencies.
So while this may be a little late for Mother’s Day, I’d say we cannot ignore the need to acknowledge the mothers of the world who have stood by their children in their struggles, and the mothers of the world who have fought through fear and addiction to regain their lives with their families as inspiring women in recovery.
The Champion of Change
This year President Barack Obama selected Barbara Theodosiou, the founder of The Addict’s Mom, as a recipient of a White House Champion of Change award!
The Addict’s Mom (TAM) is a movement started 10 years ago and stands strong with over 70,000 members across the country. Barbara Theodosiou fearlessly shared the struggles she lived with and the tragic suffering she experienced at the death of her son Daniel due to his drug addiction. Her conviction and perseverance served as inspiration to other families, allowing them to receive support, education and resources for dealing with an addicted loved one.
Barbara and TAM are being recognized for doing amazing things to improve their communities and raise awareness, and getting people engaged in conversations while fighting to overcome the stigma of addiction and substance abuse.
Also this year, TAM welcomed Director Michael Botticelli of the White House Office on National Drug Control Policy as a member. Working with Director Botticelli through a brand-new initiative from his office TAM members have been given an opportunity to voice their concerns for their children who are suffering from the disease of addiction. TAM was the first organization to be chosen for this initiative, and their continued efforts as a grass-roots organization show astonishing strength of mothers in communities across America who are fighting to overcome addiction.
In the last few years statistics show that both alcohol and drug abuse are on the rise among women. Some reports have shown:
- Number of women ages 30 to 44 who report abusing alcohol has doubled over the past decade
- Prescription-drug abuse has sky-rocketed 400 percent
We increasingly hear about moms who use alcohol or drugs in dangerous combinations and frequencies, and some experts profess that women are even more likely to hide their addictions than men. These same experts would also say women are also less likely to seek treatment than men because they worry about the people that depend on them- this is especially true of the moms out there.
I can personally say I have known young mothers who admitted to having very serious issues with drug abuse, but resisted any attempt to suggest treatment citing their children as the reason they could not leave the home. So many mothers are afraid to part from their children for that long, and some even fear their children would be taken away if they were discovered to have a drug or alcohol problem.
Then there are the children born to addicted mothers. In America a baby is born dependent on opioids every 19 minutes, according to some sources. Some states are trying to fight this aggressively by imprisoning mothers who have used drugs while pregnant, but others argue that prison isn’t the answer and treatment should be sought for those moms who are suffering. Some states have specific programs in place to help pregnant mothers who are addicted, including but not limited to:
As this issue intensifies with the growing issue of opiate abuse in the country, many believe there should be more states actively pursuing progressive programs for helping mothers who are dependent on drugs to get treatment and carry out a healthy pregnancy instead of locking them up and persecuting them; treating an addicted mom with such contempt only stands to support stigma and not recovery and rehabilitation.
Addicted moms are still moms, and we should honor our mothers.
We Heart Moms
There are incredible examples of mothers on both sides of this conflict. There are mothers who have fought for their sobriety against all odds and discrimination who now lead amazing lives with healthy and happy families, and there are mothers who have endured the heartbreak and pain of watching addiction take away the ones they loved most and live to tell their stories to teach and inspire others.
The fight to overcome addiction in America would be nothing without the moms out there fighting it with us. Whether it is the mothers working tirelessly within the recovery community to help other women escape drug abuse and grow, or the mothers who have helped hold us addicts up when we were wavering close to slipping over the edge.
My mother is my hero. Every mom is a hero. We thank every mother in every home for every instant of time they have put into helping shape the future, and we hope that every mother finds the peace and fullness of life beyond the struggles of addiction.
Pregnant women with drug addiction face very-real barriers to getting help: those of shame and fear. Mothers fear leaving behind their families, and others fear losing their children to addiction. There is help. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-777-9588