The Weight of a Feather
1. Lynda, what inspired you to write The Weight of a Feather (Morgan James)? After my son went into recovery, I thought about all the parents still going through the devastating experience I had just left. I remembered how isolated I felt during the time that my son was addicted and how I struggled to maintain hope after I had exhausted every resource and avenue I knew. I shared my story because I wanted other parents to know that they are not alone in their struggle and to provide hope that recovery is available, even in what seem to be impossible situations.
2. How did you come to confront opiate addiction in your own family? I suspected my son was dabbling in drugs, but I did not really know the extent of it until he informed me, flat out one day, that he was addicted to heroin. “Well, we’ll have to find you help,” I said, naively thinking that this was going to be a simple task of finding the right resource and appropriate treatment, and we would be on our way to resolving the situation. I didn’t realize that resolving the situation was going to take years and dogged persistence to ever reach recovery. As I put it in my book, it was a game of “Chutes and Ladder”, forward and backward before we ever reached the final square on the game board.
3. Your book shares touching stories, using sadness and humor to powerfully help us understand the crisis our nation is in. How hard was it to relive these events and put them into the book? I had at least a year’s distance from the events before I started writing the book, which definitely helped, and I had a driving force within me to help people understand the sheer agony that so many families were enduring on a day-to-day basis. The media is faithful in showcasing other tragedies – floods, earthquakes, fires—and we are all moved with compassion. But because of the stigma surrounding addiction, that compassion just wasn’t there for families struggling with addiction or users. I think my motivation kept me from getting bogged down with some of the sad parts of my story. I wanted to say, this is me and this is my story, and I am just one of millions of people who are dealing with this here in America.
4. What should the government be doing to crack down on the opiate epidemic? I think they need to get a better handle on the flow of drugs into and within the country, along with a better system for monitoring the number of prescriptions being written. Treatment needs to be immediately accessible when a person reaches out for help, whether through detox or a MAT program on an inpatient or outpatient basis. ERs need to provide treatment, not referrals, and there needs to be parity in treatment. Too many lives are being lost while waiting for treatment to become available. Test strips to determine the level of fentanyl in substances need to be more readily available to users. There also needs to be tighter regulations and oversight of rehabs centers. It is no longer unusual to read about clients dying in rehab centers because of lack of supervision and medical attention. Some rehabs are just “holding zones” with no effective treatment available to clients. Many users have co-occurring disorders, i.e. mental health issues, that need to be addressed along with issues related to addiction. Finally, there need to be effective supports available to help people in the initial stages of recovery---real help in finding a job and housing, not just counseling.
5. How can parents be better equipped to help a substance-abuser in their own house? They need to become educated, not only about the disease of addiction but also about resources in their community. They need to learn about support systems both for themselves and their child. It is a good idea to make connections with a family navigator or advocate who could help them in the process. They also need to maintain a relationship with their child, in spite of their addictive behaviors, and communicate confidence that their son or daughter can achieve recovery. So often users themselves lose hope so it is important to know that there is someone in their life that is keeping that fire kindled.
6. How can we clear roadblocks to get people into a recovery program? Make treatment accessible immediately. Perhaps setting up safe injections sites is an idea to be considered—not as a form of enabling—but as a way of keeping users in contact with people who can help guide and support them in finding treatment. Develop a clear path to recovery; it is still too much of a maze that people have to navigate through.
7. Even with a Master’s Degree in Social Work, did you feel equipped to handle your family’s tragedy? It is ironic, but even though I was more familiar with “the system” than most people, it didn’t really help me. The opiate crisis hit almost everyone --- parents, educators, clinical and medical professionals---like a tsunami. No one was quite prepared or trained to deal with it, and there has been a lot of scrambling and confusion trying to find the right path to resolve it on both a small and large scale.
For more information, please see: http://thefamilyrecoverysolution.com/2018/10/09/lynda-hacker-araoz-mothers-journey/
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Brian Feinblum’s insightful views, provocative opinions, and interesting ideas expressed in this terrific blog are his alone and not that of his employer or anyone else. You can – and should -- follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at email@example.com. He feels much more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog ©2019. Born and raised in Brooklyn, he now resides in Westchester. His writings are often featured in The Writer and IBPA’s Independent. This was named one of the best book marketing blogs by Book Baby http://blog.bookbaby.com/2013/09/the-best-book-marketing-blogs and recognized by Feedspot in 2018 as one of the top book marketing blogs. Also named by WinningWriters.com as a "best resource.” He recently hosted a panel on book publicity for Book Expo America.
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