Your Turn

Share Your Stories of Addiction

Addiction
Geoffrey Bennett, NPR

In August, we'll kick off a new, month-long series on addiction. We'll hit issues like drugs and alcohol, but we'll also delve into lesser known topics, the physiology of addiction, and interventions.

To that end, we're soliciting your stories. Have you or a friend/family member suffered from or battled back from addiction? If you are open to speaking with us on the air, please leave an accurate e-mail address — which will not be made public — and we'll get back to you.

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.

Thank you NPR! All too frequently the media focuses on the drama and chaos of active alcoholism and addiction. Regrettably, since 22 million people have alcohol or drug problems, the public knows all about the drama and chaos. What the public doesn't know or apprecaite, is the reality that millions of individuals and families are in recovery and how to get help! For over 60 years, the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD)and our National Network of Affiliates have focused on information and referral, education, prevention, intervention, training, treatment, recovery support and advocacy. In the process we have assisted millions of individuals and families find recovery and we thank NPR for taking on this life-saving project. On behalf of the millions who will benefit from the information that NPR will provide, NCADD says thank you!

Sent by Robert J Lindsey President/CEO | 5:43 PM | 7-29-2008

I've been in recovery for seven years now. i was a daily user- first weed, then meth, and always alcohol. in the end the alcohol took me to my bottom. when i went to AA and heard people talking about doing things i thought only i did, i realized i'm not crazy. i have a disease, not a lack of willpower. this was a huge relief. today i have a relationship with my family again and a life beyond my wildest dreams. only because i don't pick up a day at a time, go to meetings, and help another addict.

Sent by grateful girl, nyc | 10:32 AM | 7-30-2008

I have been in recovery for two years now. I am open to speak with anyone about the disease that I still fight everyday. I am a chronic pain patient and I never thought that I would get addicted to the medicines that were designed to keep me out of pain. I did not know that I was pre-dieposed to the disease of addiction. Any other drugs that I had experimented with at a young age did not hook me in like the pain pills. Once I got out of hand I was seeing two different doctors and ordering pills off the internet. At my worse I was taking 25 to 30 pills a day. I am lucky to be alive and I am lucky to have the job I have today. I now can help save lives of addicts. I can now help people realize that they are suffering from a disease. Let all addicts rise up together and help lift the age old stigma of addiction.

Sent by Mauri Satterfield Patient Advocate | 11:21 AM | 7-30-2008

I have been in recovery for 23 years from addiction to alcohol. In that time, I have learned many ways to address the challenges faced by me and others who have had the good fortune to get the support needed to begin and remain on this journey. I would be willing to share my story with NPR listeners.

Sent by Allen McQuarrie | 11:26 AM | 7-30-2008

On August 5, 2008 I will celebrate 9 years of clean and sober living since my liver transplant 1n 1999. I suffered cirrhosis of the liver as a direct result of my alcohol consumption.I now teach Health and Physical Education and continue to practice law, and have achieved many milestones in recovery.

Sent by Sharon Brass | 11:30 AM | 7-30-2008

On behalf of the Nantucket Alliance for Substance Abuse Prevention, Inc., ASAP, (an affiliate of NCADD) we applaud NPR's efforts to give addiction and recovery a 'voice'. As we approach September's National Alcohol and Drug Addiction Recovery Month its important to highlight the success that people have in treatment and recovery, and to show that substance use disorders are medical conditions that should be treated as such. As a collaborative of local organizations, committees, town departments, and the public at-large, together ASAP serves as a community-wide prevention coalition whose mission is 'to provide leadership, education and support in the community for the prevention and treatment of alcoholism, addiction, substance abuse, and related problems.' While Nantucket is an isolated island community with limited access to treatment, we, like many, recognize that access to treatment is not only critical to a community's health and well-being, but essential. Kudos go out to NPR -- for your insight in recognizing and highlighting the human successes, as well as the challenges along the road to treatment and recovery. Thank you!

Sent by Karyn S. Lindsay, Executive Director | 1:17 PM | 7-30-2008

I welcome NPR's coverage on addiction. It is so needed. I am the oldest of three brothers, all three of which suffered from alcoholism. On 9/11 I will celebrate 28 years of recovery. My youngest brother has 21 years of sobriety, our middle brother died of this disease four years ago. I was fortunate enough to have been relatively young (thirty-one) when I realized every problem I was experiencing in life was attributable to my drinking. I sought help and became a student of recovery. I went into a treatment program and then got involved with self-help. I went back to college, got a degree and went to work in the field of addictions as my life's work, which I have never regretted. Virtually everything I have in life today, a happy marriage to a beautiful woman, two great kids, a mortgage on a wonderful old home, a career I enjoy, self-respect and happiness...every one of these things are due to sobriety. I see myself as not unique, both in terms of suffering from alcoholism and also in terms of recovering from it. There are millions of us in recovery but you wouldn't necessarily know it because too few of us are willing to put a face and voice to recovery. The shroud of stigma still hangs over addiction thus many of those with many years of sobriety stay silent. Today, I work for the National Council on Alcoholsim and Drug Abuse in St. Louis. Nothing makes me feel better than seeing someone get help, achieve their potential and become the person they were meant to be. ~ Dan Duncan

Sent by Dan Duncan | 1:18 PM | 7-30-2008

On behalf of NCADD Sacramento Region Affiliate, the clients we serve, families we help and community in which we work, I would like to thank NPR for telling the story of recovery and successful lives.

Too often the public only sees the drama that is portrayed in addiction - and the recovery process is forgotten about. We watch hundreds of people come through our program yearly, and the successes are great! Families reunited, clients going back to school, getting job, becoming productive members of society. Those are the stories that need to be told.

Sent by Nikki Buckstead Pane - NCADD Sacramento Region Affiliate | 2:29 PM | 7-30-2008

As an Adult Child of an Alcoholic, I applaud the individuals who are battling the disease of addiction. Unfortunately, the stigma of seeking help is still with us. I presently work as a Prevention Educator at the Erie County Council for Alcohol and Substance Abuse in New York State. I was recently approached by a woman who worked across the hall from our office for the entire year at a preschool. She walked into the office the day before the school year ended, asking for information in regard to her husband's addiction. She disclosed that she wanted to walk in all year and ask for help, but "was afraid of what we would think of her". People know that help is available, but the stigma in asking for that help is still alive and well.
Thank you NPR for sharing these stories of addiction and recovery so that more individuals will seek out the help they need to make a positive change for themselves and their families.

Sent by Janice Burns, Credentialed Prevention Specialist | 2:32 PM | 7-30-2008

Townsend is a network of physician supported intensive outpatient addiction treatment programs. We have facilities located throughout the Southeast with physicians and counselors in 4 states. Our Chief Medical Officer sits on the board of the American Society of Addiction Medicine. We are thrilled that NPR has decided to tackle this serious subject and are offering all of our resources to make sure the series is informative and educational for all NPR listeners. We look forward to hearing from NPR and joining in your fight against the chronic brain illness.

Sent by Amy Jones | 4:19 PM | 7-30-2008

I am so glad that NPR is doing a comprehensive look into this tremendous problem for many people. I am recovering from Alcohol addiction. I have begun to recover again. This time I have been sober for 14 months. My family had an intervention on me in June 2007. I went to The Bridges of Hope for six months before returning home in December. It was the scariest and best thing I have ever done. The bridges is in Louisville, Georgia. It is a self sustaining farm where alcoholics and addicts live and work together everyday and night. I still return there to work with others and hope that I always can be of service. There is so much I could say about myself and The Bridges. I owe them my life. Thank you for this chance to help someone. Sincerely, Michael

Sent by Michael Wood | 7:49 PM | 7-30-2008

In a way, mine is a story of both personal and professional recovery and growth.
As a psychiatric social worker, I started working in the field of alcoholism in 1969 at a State Hospital in northern California. I became associated with NCA and other organizations dedicated to the prevention and treatment of alcoholism, including the local AA Hospital and Institutions Committee. Later I moved to San Diego, where I continued to work in treatment, and finally, research and teaching in the field. During that time, I married a man in alcoholism recovery, and participated in Alanon and as an associate of AA. Unfortunately, my husband relapsed and his violent drinking eventually led to our divorce. However, I recognized my own need for ongoing recovery and continued in Alanon and as an active family member of local alano clubs.
I was also professionally involved in NCA (later NCADD), and was a Board member of the local affiliate in 1972, again in the 1980s, and from the late 90s to 2004, when I retired and moved out of state. In 1981, I had returned to UCSD for my PhD. in Sociology. My thesis was a study of AA and is now a book, published in 2007, called "The Social World of Alcoholics Anonymous:How It Works." I am now living in southwest Florida, where I continue on my own spiritual path, and to support the recovery community in any way I can.

Sent by Annette R. Smith | 10:48 AM | 7-31-2008

THANK YOU, NPR, for your planned series on addiction. My family tree is rife with many generations of alcoholics, all of whom also suffered from severe depression and an alarming number of suicides. My mother is in the late stages of alcoholic demetia; I myself found the gift of recovery 25 years ago, and am eternally grateful. Through the grace of God, I am the first in many generations of my family to finally break the cycle of addiction. I have three grown children, none of whom suffer from addiction; my sincere prayer is that they will never have to experience that hell.

Five years ago, I became the Executive Director of the Alochol & Drug Council of Middle TN, which is an affiliate of the NCADD. I've never felt more at home in any other job setting--this is truely my calling. I've learned that over 80% of all the people currently incarcerated in America state that they need treatment for substance abuse and many report that they were high at the time they committed their crime. It boggles the mind to imagine that if treatment were more readily available to people at all income levels and that if America were better educated about this disease, what vast improvements we would see in our entire culture. THANK YOU for your enormous part in helping educate America about the disease that causes more deaths each year than cancer and heart disease combined.

Sent by Mary McKinney | 11:39 AM | 7-31-2008

I am looking forward to your show. I am a recovering alcoholic/addict...in recovery for 19 years. I have worked in the addiction/recovery field as a nurse since 1989. Loving Life! Debbie/ Jacksonville Fl

Sent by Debbie Messinese RN BSN | 12:01 PM | 7-31-2008

Around Super Bowl "79" I began my recovery journey. Today as an African American male living life in recovery,I'm proud to say and to be that example that it is possible.Today I know the power of "one day at a time"

Sent by Fred Martin | 1:46 PM | 8-1-2008

Thank you NPR for the gifts of Willingness, experience, Strength and Hope. Representing the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence of Greater Kansas City, I would like to support and contribute to the series on alcohol and addiction. We are an affiliate of the NCADD and would welcome the opportunity to speak, share and educate on the opportunities we provide, to our community, in recovery, prevention and family struggles. The stories we have are amazing! And the most common thanks we receive is the statement, "thanks, you saved my life!" Thank you for being a part of our successful mission!

Sent by Michelle R. Irwin | 4:08 PM | 8-1-2008

I began using alcohol at the age of 13 as a result of childhood sexual trauma. Not an excuse for my behavior, but more of an explanation as to what drove me towards drugs. I moved from alcohol to cocaine, to methamphetamines, to, "Hey what's that." As a result, I lost my friends, job, family, car, home, and soul to addiction. Once I became homeless I resorted to criminal behavior to support my addiction. I was so angry at the world; I would break into people's homes while they were at work just so I could eat and shower, and have a home for two hours. In 1991 my mother (God bless her) had me arrested for breaking into her home. A savvy judge realized that I was an intelligent girl, who had fallen prey to a deadly disease. Instead of prison, I was ordered into a drug treatment program named KIVA.

Based on that reality I was ordered to complete a four-month residential treatment program, remain drug free and crime free, and to comply with and complete the terms of my probation. I am pleased to say that I not only completed the four-month residential treatment program, but also completed a two-month after-care component, and a six-month transitional living program.

My treatment experience provided me with insight into the underpinnings of my addiction and allowed me to take personal responsibility for my life and behavior. I do not make excuses for what I did, nor do I deny having committed a crime. Moreover, I have dedicated my life to helping others to adapting to a life of recovery.

Upon completion of my treatment program I gained employment I enrolled in college, worked full-time, completed an internship program, and received a degree in Behavioral Sciences Alcohol and Other Drug Studies. I graduated on the Dean's list with High Honors.

Having received my degree, I began working in the chemical dependency field first as a Case Manager, later as Substance Abuse Counselor, then a Program Manager and now as Associate Vice President for Mental Health Systems, Inc Alcohol & Drug Division.

In my current position I oversee three Regional Recovery Centers in San Diego dedicated to helping others who suffer from the disease of addiction and alcoholism. I am also the program manager for the Serial Inebriate Program. The Serial Inebriate Program began in January 2000, and was initiated as a problem-solving effort to reduce the revolving door serial inebriate syndrome wherein chronic, homeless alcoholics go in and out of Detox Centers, County Jail, and local Emergency Rooms for the criminal offense of drunk-in-public. SIP is now a nationally recognized project that is featured in the Department Of Housing And Urban Development's "Strategies for Reducing Chronic Street Homelessness". The United States is now funding similar programs to address the growing problem of Serial Inebriates across the nation. I am privileged to be a part of this project.

What's important to know is this...We are not pariah, we are not evil. We are your sons and daughters, we sat next to you in church, we were your third grade student, we worked next to you, we prayed with you, we are group of men and women who suffer from the disease of addiction for which there is no known cure...but we DO recover!

Sent by Deni McLagan, CATC | 4:55 PM | 8-1-2008

Although not always looked on as an addiction--I celebrated 4 years of recovery from anorexia and bulima this past March. I had been dealing with eating issues since I was in the 5th grade and eventually found myself down to 88 pounds in 2004 (I am 5'10"). This is a very complicated disease that thankfully is getting more information out there. Doctors wondered how I was still alive when I decided to get help. It was not easy, that's for sure--but I am definitely a stronger person because of it.

Sent by Lindsay McDaniel | 7:21 PM | 8-1-2008

In December, 2008 I celebrate 27 years of abstinence from all substances. It has been an exceptional journey and one which I am eternally grateful for. In addition my two children were afflicted with the disease and now both enjoy over 20 years of recovery. My journey which was torn apart by excessive use and abuse of drugs and alcohol has evoved nad for the past 25 years I have been involved in the field of alcoholic treatment, primarily as an interventionist, participating in over 1000 interventions. My profession has been very rewarding personally and has given me an opportunity to introduce an alternative to others. I commend NPR for taking a stance and publisizing the horrible problems and dire consequences caused by the use and abuse of alcohol and other drugs.

Sent by David S. Burr | 12:02 PM | 8-2-2008

I work for a drug, alcohol and gambling treatment center in California and think your series will be well received by NPR listeners across the country.

One thing that would be worthwhile for you to explore in addition to personal stories of addiction and recovery is the extent to which insurance companies are reducing their coverage of drug and alcohol treatment even as the incidence of addiction continues to climb.

The financial challenges facing America's drug and alcohol addicts are well documented. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), the federal agency that provides grant funding for drug and alcohol rehabilitation centers across the country, conducted a survey in 2006 and found that 45 percent of addicts were unable to afford treatment for their addictions.

Government funding for addiction programs, meanwhile, has been on the decline. As a result, those who do ultimately seek treatment through low cost, government funded facilities often have to wait many months or a year or longer to get the treatment they need. Clearly, the medical insurance industry and the federal government need to do more to help America's addicts get the treatment they need.

Sent by Jeff Crider | 7:25 PM | 8-2-2008

On behalf of the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD) of Middlesex County, Inc. we would like to commend NPR for implementing efforts designed to highlight addiction and recovery. NCADD of Middlesex County celebrates National Recovery Month each September by awarding the "Tree of Hope" to an organization that promotes recovery. Too often, the public's image of an alcoholic or drug addict is that of someone in, or one step away from, the gutter. The Tree of Hope aims to change that image by bringing together individuals who have experienced the life-changing transformation that true recovery brings. These individuals are our neighbors, friends, and family members. By recognizing these individuals publicly, they not only help change the perception that addiction is hopeless, but their example can be a powerful inspiration for those just starting on the road to recovery themselves. As such, NCADD joins our friends in applauding NPR for recognizing recovery and providing a national platform to celebrate it.

Sent by Ezra Helfand, Public Information Coordinator | 10:48 AM | 8-5-2008

Thank you NPR for taking on such an important topic! I am the Coordinator for Community Partnerships for a Tobacco-Free New Jersey. I have witnessed the destruction caused by addiction with two uncles on my mom's side and an uncle and cousin on my dad's side suffering from multiple addictions. I say multiple addictions for all of them because they were all addicted to alcohol and tobacco. My two uncles on mom's side reached the point of homelessness before they were able to achieve sobriety.
Unfortunately, I lost my Unlce Ted last year at the young age of 53. While he was 23 years removed from alcohol, he had only been 8 years free of tobacco when he died. He was in the best shape of his life when he died, but the ravages of alcohol, tobacco, and the recreational use of other drugs in his younger days left him with heart disease that went virtually undetected until his sudden death last July. All too often, people are able to break free of their addictions to alcohol and other drugs only to be killed primarily by their tobacco addiction. I don't claim to have the answers to this problem but, it's a problem that certainly deserves more attention from the treatment community.
Today, I work for the Passaic County Council on Alcoholism & Drug Abuse Prevention, an affiliate of the NCADD, in the hope that I can prevent as many young people as possible from falling into the trap of tobacco addiction which, in many cases, leads to other addictions. I also do all I can to get people to quit smoking as it is still the number one cause of preventable death in the U.S. today.

Sent by Philip Berlier, BS, CHES | 12:14 PM | 8-5-2008

I have been an addictions counselor since the 80's. I have seen the devastation of addiction in families and the joy of recover. Today, I want to focus on "gateway drugs". So often in today's society tobacco and alcohol are "excused" because they are legal substances. Yet, I would be hard pressed to find an addict I have treated that did not first begin their course of addiction without tobacco or alcohol. I often see parents buying tobacco or alcohol for their teens with the rationale "at least they don't engage in those other illegal drugs" or "its good for them to learn at home". If you were to go to NIDA's web site you would see how the pleasure pathways/reward system in the brain activates similarly whether it be tobacco, alcohol, cocaine, etc. In reviewing School Tobacco Policies, I often find a punitive response connected with students caught using tobacco, opposed to plan to assess and assist the student stop their tobacco use. All too often, I see school professionals turn their heads...not my job. I work at a university and train professionals across the country to help their patients quit tobacco use. Getting them to understand that this is an addiction, not a bad habit...but a disease that will kill their patients is imperative and a serious treatment plan needs to be put into place just as if you were treating any other disease. www.tobaccoprogram.org
I also serve on a township alliance to educate parents about the dangers of drug abuse. It has been a chore to get parents to attend programs to learn about these important issues facing our youth and communities. Our alliance decided to mail the information right to their doorsteps ...with the hope that they would read about the serious underage drinking problem we have across the US.
Thanks to our ongoing relationship with NCADD for this opportunity to post.

Sent by Nancy Speelman Edwards | 1:23 PM | 8-5-2008

I am thrilled to discover that NPR is doing a segment on addiction, but what I'd really like to know is when can I hear it? I searched the schedule listed on the main website, yet I cannot seem to find it-- I'd love to listen in! Just tell me when its on.

Sent by Olivia | 3:36 PM | 8-5-2008

Hello I have beeen in rercovery for 2 years now and have spoken to teens al over the state I would love to share my story on air My EMail Address ic joeyb 523@ yahoo.com Thank you

Sent by Joseph Brancaccio | 11:54 PM | 8-5-2008

Thank you for addressing shoplifting as an addiction. Lisa P was very brave to speak publicly. I have not been able to find a local support group, because no one will admit to this anti social behaviour, and yet there are many people who share this addiction.

Sent by Susan Johnson | 1:20 PM | 8-11-2008

thankyou for promoting addiction knowledge.we are a family struggling with recovery,while our daughter will be one year "clean" she is 3 months pregnant with depression and the cravings to use. her male friend is 6 months clean and has 5 years probation ahead.

Sent by joyce | 9:28 PM | 8-11-2008

2 years ago I had a surgery.I now have a horrible pain pill addiction. I hate myself and am so ashamed. I am only 2 days clean, I have hit rock bottom and I want to be me again. If anyone can give me any pointer to fight these demons please help. I need to be me again!!

Sent by sarah | 9:48 AM | 8-12-2008

I also have had difficulty with addiction, though I did not know what it was I had my first panic attack when I was 14 and for the next twenty years i did not know what I had. To relieve myself of this I had trouble drinking, gambling and going to strip clubs. When I finally found medicine to help with the panic attacks but I still did not realize all the work needed to fight the addiction even though earlier I went to college and got a degree in psychology.

Sent by jason | 11:17 AM | 8-14-2008

I loved NPR's recent broadcast on Implicit Attitude Tests Reveal Buried Bias with Siri Carpenter and Bruce Nosek. I hope the NPR Addiction series explores other forms of addiction like that of Racism. As noted in the above broadcast, many researchers are looking in to ways to address the hidden bias the plagues society and ways to treat it. I found these books helpful on the subject, "How to Recover from the Addiction to White Supremacy" by Marvin X as well "White Like Me, Reflections of Race from a Privileged Son," by Tim Wise.

I also hope the series is not 12 Step-centric since there are many, many recovery alternatives other than AA such as Jack Trimpey's Rational Recovery.

Sent by A. R. Jenkins | 7:31 PM | 8-16-2008

When you think about stories of addiction, do not miss the following collection of photographs and stories:
www.expressionsofaddiction.com

Sent by Jeff | 9:28 AM | 8-23-2008

NPR is doing a major service by calling attention to the broad range of behaviors (not just substance use) that form the basis for addiction. As my writings and research document, our stereotypic view of addictions get in the way of identifying our own and others addictions--even our health care providers routinely miss their patient's addictions.
In broadening our view of the kinds of behavior that can be addictive, I hope NPR will also encourage its listeners to look beyond the usual dramatic portrayals of addiction that appear in the media to consider the far less dramatic early warning signs of addiction ( as discussed in my work Addicted? Recognizing Destructive Behavior Before It's too Late). Just as we have learned to recognize cancer's early warning signs-- we can learn the early warning signs of addiction before the cost of addiction means loss of relationships, jobs, and even one's life.

Sent by Marilyn Freimuth, PhD | 11:33 PM | 9-7-2008

What is most needed is an honest and open dialogue, and perhaps debate, on addiction causation. The prevailing hypothesis, known as the hi-jacked brain hypothesis (HBH), isn't adequately supported by current relevant scientific research, yet it (the so-called plasticity model) is still widely accepted and used despite its lack of efficacy. Addiction causation is paramount to finding correct prevention, treatment and recovery from this disease. Wrong theory = wrong treatment, for every disease.
Please review www.hypoism.com for more information and let your readers / listeners know about it. Its free, and will save lives.
Thank you

Sent by Marcus M | 3:55 PM | 9-11-2008

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