Read an Excerpt
Out of Love for Our Children
Nothing makes parents’ hearts sink faster than the thought of their child suffering. And addiction is a uniquely dark and deep form of suffering. Over years of addiction, families are worn down, trust is lost, and relationships are strained. No logic or science can adequately explain how the disease mutates the afflicted, how they no longer resemble the loved ones who once seemed so familiar. All too often, this is the tragic lens through which society views the young who lose their way. But that is a book and a story for another time. This book is about something much more hopeful. In medicine, I have been a humble witness to humanity’s enormous capacity for compassion and sacrifice. Whether on an oncology unit or on a psychiatric floor, I have rarely experienced a virtue more profoundly awe-inspiring than the love that parents have for their children. (A child’s love for a parent, on the other hand, can be surprisingly conditional.) The lengths to which families will go to help their children give me faith, at least momentarily, in a greater potential for all of us. Of course, it is delusional not to take note of the strife that accompanies young people in treatment for addiction. Often they are irritable, physically worn, resistant, and lashing out at the world. It can be hard to maintain a sense of emotional objectivity when working with this group. With all of that in mind, however, we need to make a point to see more than the disease in these youth. When we relate to young addicts at Hazelden, we also remember the wonderment and promise they possessed as small children. We envision them on their first day of school. We remember the thrill of their most memorable achievements and the nostalgic times spent in the company of loved ones. In them lie the collective hopes and dreams of generations past that spark so haltingly nowand the yearning of families to see those dreams rekindled once more. Our children are our greatest treasures. There is nothing of greater value, nobody for whom we’d sacrifice more. We recognize and celebrate their changes and their maturity from adolescence into young adulthood. And yet our children always remain our childrennot because we are naïve, but because we see them through this beautiful capacity for unconditional love. It is in this spirit that I want to connect with you, the reader, in helping those most precious to us.