Hope for Addiction

candlesI’m part of a community of moms who support one another. Maybe you are too. There are so many different kinds of support groups for moms. We have play groups for our toddlers, girl’s night out, cooking groups, hiking and book clubs, gym buddies, diet clubs and Bible studies. Over the years I’ve been in many of these groups, including several support groups for the mothers of drug addicts. Unfortunately  waaayyyy too many moms are a part of that club… approximately 25 million Americans meet the definition of addiction and each of the lives represented by that number has a mother.

The Addict’s Mom (TAM) is a national organization that provides a safe place for moms to openly share their pain without judgment. We are also a community of women working to advocate for the needs of addicts, and to reduce the shame and stigma of addiction. Mom’s trade Facebook posts and emails, sharing fears, hope, recovery successes, and heartbreaking relapses. Some of us are doing better than others… all of us struggle.

TAM has an event scheduled in September to coincide with National Recovery Month. The event is to light candles, either publicly, or in the privacy of our own homes. We will honor the lives of our loved ones who do, or who have suffered from the disease of addiction. We will pray for a cure.

A red candle is for all who are in active addiction. It reminds me of the candle I lit for Annie at the Bassilica de Sacre Coeur in Paris so many years ago. At the time, my daughter sat in a jail cell on the other side of the world. Our local newspaper had just dubbed her a “transient” after a very public arrest.

Years later, Annie, also in Paris, lit a candle for “all of those who still suffer.”

A white candle is for the sustained recovery of those who have found their way out. I am profoundly grateful I get to light a white candle, not just for Annie, but for the many people in recovery who have become such an important part of my life.

Black, or silver, is the candle we light to remember those who have lost the battle with addiction. I will be lighting one of these too, for the addicts I have known, loved, and lost to this hellish, unforgiving disease.

I wonder if there should also be another candle? A fourth candle for we moms? A candle for every mother who has loved an addict, chased after an addict, advocated for an addict, hoped for an addict, prayed for an addict, grieved for an addict.

I think I will choose the color green. Not only is green my favorite color, but it also represents life and rebirth. While I’m powerless over the lives represented by the red, white, and black candles, I do have some power over my own life and that is also worth honoring. I can choose life and recovery for myself.

If you wish to join us, either publicly or privately, The Addict’s Mom will be lighting candles on September 1 at 9:00 p.m. EDT. You can learn more by visiting www.theaddictsmom.com

There is hope.

Author: Barbara Stoefen

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  1. Thank you so much for your comment, Karen. I agree with you that language matters. Times are changing and with greater awareness about addiction, many of us are becoming sensitized to the language used. Use of the terms “dirty” and “clean,” for example. One of the people I respect most in the treatment industry is Debra Jay, and she addresses this issue in opening comments in her newly released book, It Takes a Family. She makes a distinction between “addiction” and “substance use disorder,” and “addict” and “substance abuser,” the latter being someone who is not necessarily addicted. There doesn’t seem to be one easy, all-inclusive term that doesn’t confuse or possibly offend some. I’m looking for a meaningful noun to replace the word “addict.” I’m all ears if you’ve found one! Thank you again.

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  2. I think this is a lovely idea, but I just can not support what you are doing.

    Why are you still using the word Addict ? Labeling anyone and/or using the term addict is from the time of the drug war and should no longer be tolerated.

    I thought this was a good cause, but when I went to your facebook groups and the addict’s mom website I saw a lot of misinformation being posted there.

    Also, why is this a .com. I am confused. If you are a non profit where is your EIN number posted?

    Your leadership and the founder should be ashamed. It looks to me like you are one thing, trying to be another.

    Please, stop using the word addict!

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    • Thank you for your comment, Fran. First a clarification: this is not a nonprofit site. I am the mother of a recovering drug “addict” and have written a book about my journey through her addiction and recovery. This site contains information on my book, and I also blog about drug prevention and substance abuse disorders. I am a hardworking volunteer in my own community and teach young people about the dangers of drug abuse.

      TheAddictsMom.com organization, of which I am a member, and about which I wrote this blog post, is also not a nonprofit. The founder has applied for nonprofit status, however. It is a nationwide organization of approximately 20,000 women, and is a lifeline for many of us.

      My daughter and her many friends in recovery identify themselves as “addicts” and as long as they use the term, I will too. Hang ups about semantics and words used, detracts from the very important work being done to reduce the shame of addiction, and the stigma associated with this horrendous disease. Part of the goal is to embrace ALL human beings with kindness, respect, and without judgement and name calling… and I think that rule of thumb should apply to all of us.

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      • Thank you for your response and clarifying the nonprofit status for us. And I will respectfully disagree. While it is one thing for members of a community to identify themselves as “addicts,” it is quite another for outsiders to use the same appellation.

        An example of this is the young black community, they address and use slang that is totally inappropriate for anyone else to use.

        Second, many of our young people, my daughter included, have gone through so much and feel such shame and guilt and using the word “addict” does nothing to lift them ups and/or fulfill in your words where the “goal is to embrace ALL human beings with kindness, respect, and without judgement(sic) and name calling.”

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        • Thank you, Fran. I have taken your comments to heart. I believe addiction’s time has come, and there does seem to be quite a groundswell of change.

          I often tell people that everything I know about life, I learned from drug addicts. I use the word with much love and respect. It simply doesn’t mean the same thing to me that is apparently means to you, so yes, let’s agree to disagree and offer grace to one another for differing views. Who knows… my view on this may change as I gain greater exposure to the needs and interests of others.

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        • One last thought from SAMHSA on why language matters and how hanging on to old language impedes changing stigma and healing.


          Thank you again for responding and allowing me to express another point of view.

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          • Fran, I watched the video… good stuff. My purpose with A Very Fine House is to help educate and to help de-stigmatize addiction. I definitely value your input. Thank you.

          • Correction to an earlier comment: My mistake… The Addict’s Mom is indeed a 501c3 nonprofit organization, and they also use a .org address.

          • Thanks for sharing this blog post and others. I read quite a few today. Something written from the depth of ones soul with honesty and grace is always a worthwhile read for me.

            I’d like to briefly respond to the issues of use of “addiction” words/language that have been commonly used over time and whether that language matters.

            It’s my opinion that language most definitely does matter in most circumstances, not just in this context. The “Language Matters – Road to Recovery” video that Fran attached (above) is a very worthwhile investment of time to watch if someone thinks otherwise. I just finished watching it in it’s entirety and it makes an excellent case for whom language matters and why it matters from many different perspectives. I appreciated hearing the perspectives of those individuals highlighted in this video and was personally inspired to examine my own choice of language and make necessary changes. It demonstrates well how adopting consistent terms with regards to substance use disorders and the individuals who have these conditions can make positive steps in the right direction towards impeding stigma and promoting recovery in a more positive light for the general public, and for involved individuals, families, providers, administrators and law makers. I hope everyone will make the time to watch this video soon.

  3. I love this ritual and the mindfulness and intention it holds. Thank you for the post.

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    • Thanks Megan 🙂

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  4. Last year we included a pink candle for the moms…

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    • Cool… thanks Pamela!

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  5. Another candle….beautiful.

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