Pubdate: Fri, 11 Jun 2004
Source: Worcester Magazine (MA)
Copyright: 2004 by Worcester Publishing Ltd
Author: Beverly Conyers


While I commend your efforts to call attention to the challenges faced
by families of addicts (WM, City Desk / "A new drug to end drug abuse"
and Cover Story / "Addict in the family," May 27), your coverage
seemed to reinforce the stigma of addiction rather than offer a
helpful perspective.

When a loved one becomes addicted to alcohol or other drugs, families
experience grief and desperation. They want to help, but their efforts
may only make the problem worse. What's more, while addiction has long
been recognized as a disease, it carries a stigma that leads many
families to suffer in silence. Addiction -- an obsessive/compulsive
disorder linked to chemical changes in the brain -- is one of the few
diseases that continue to provoke an attitude of shame and blame.

Families of addicts need all the help they can get. They need support
from groups such as Al-Anon and Nar-Anon (please note the following
correction: Narcotics Anonymous is a mutual-support group for
individuals seeking recovery from substance abuse. Nar-Anon -- the
meetings I attended -- is a mutual-support group for families of
substance abusers). They need to learn everything they can about the
disease from reliable sources. They need to learn how to establish
boundaries and to offer encouragement without enabling and to work on
their own personal growth.

Finally, families and their addicted loved ones need support from
communities that are fully committed to the prevention and treatment
of substance abuse. Addiction can strike any family. It is in
everyone's best interest to work toward public policies that remove
the stigma and make effective treatment more widely available. It is a
community-wide approach that offers the best hope for eradicating what
one writer called "this modern-day plague of addiction."

Beverly Conyers