When the crew of the Titanic first saw the iceberg that led to the ship’s terrible fate, it appeared to be something they could navigate around.
After all, the Titanic was heralded as unsinkable.
The crew’s tragic miscalculation was the existence of an unseen threat below the surface of the still water: an enormous, deadly frozen mass that ripped a gash in the vessel’s bottom causing the loss of life that haunts history to this day.
The underbelly of the iceberg that sunk the Titanic offers a lesson to families struggling in the midst of an addition crisis.
And it is this: to always be on guard about what we think we know about the cunning and powerful disease of substance use disorder. Because when a loved one is in the throes of the disease, there is almost always some threat to their safety that is not readily visible.
For many years while my son lived in heartbreaking dependence on alcohol and opioids, my husband and I truly believed we knew the full story of what was going on in his life.
But, over time what we learned was that there were a lot of life- threatening influences that trapped him more deeply in the disease of substance use disorder that we had no clue about. We were clueless because this family systems disease thrives on denial and secrecy.
We sought ways to help our son get help, but we did so, for a long time, without the true facts about the extent of the addiction-fueled choices he was making. And in that haze of lack of information we were less effective at helping our son help for himself to establish recovery. Substance use disorder is a disease that feeds thrives on secrecy and our son in the throes of that illness hid many aspects of his life.
Seeking support from a variety of sources helped us to understand that we only knew about the tip of the iceberg of the impact of substance use disorder on our son’s life. Speaking to recovery professionals, members of 12-Step fellowships and counselors specializing in family addiction issues helped us to learn more about how to break the denial and secrecy surrounding this disease that impacts every family member and, ultimately, help our family heal.
What sources of support does your family have to help understand the impact of substance use disorder in your lives?
What has helped your family deal with the denial and secrecy surrounding the disease of substance use disorder?
Please share here. We can all be inspired by our collective experience. strength and hope.