Thursday, July 27, 2006

Addict in the family

There was an article in USA Today about a week ago that opens with a man’s comment that without his wife and 4 kids he would be dead. Mr. Ryan is an addict. He has only been sober about half of the last 16 years of his life. However, he has been a functioning addict. He has held his job, he has kept his family (barely), and probably hasn’t looked out of the ordinary to his neighbors. Probably 75-80% of our deaths in our county due to drug overuse and abuse (which includes alcohol) are of functioning addicts.

The USA Today article is about addiction being a family disease. It affects more than just the addict. It affects the whole family. The entire family needs to be considered and have access to treatment.

One in five adults (that would be 40 million individuals) report an immediate relative who was and/or is addicted to alcohol or drugs. "For every person who's alcoholic or dependent on other drugs, there are at least 4 or 5 people hurt on a regular basis". Think of the size of the problem. Beyond the addict that needs treatment are the family members who need support and care.

We (society) need to make certain that there are treatment and care options for the Ryans in our country so that they don’t become coroner’s cases too early, so that lives and families are not destroyed, so that children don’t repeat the cycle.

I applaud Mr. Ryan, who was willing to bear his life for the article. His and his wife’s comments are blunt, likely painful, but really bring the story home. My thoughts and prayers are with Mr. Ryan and his family. I wish him success in sobriety and strength in his continued battle.

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