My family and nearly every other family I know has been touched by addiction to drugs (legal and illegal) and/or alcohol. That’s one reason my wife and I were drawn to a book I want to recommend to everyone: Broken, by William Cope Moyers. It is published in the U.S. by Viking and, for my readers downunder, by Penguin Books Ltd. in Australia and by Penguin Group in New Zealand.
William’s story is hard to read. His pain and the pain of his family is palpable. His journey is heartrending and heartbreaking but finally victorious. Several times I had to lay the book aside, recover my equilibrium, then force myself to reenter the fires of agony that scorched William, everyone who loves him and singed my soul also. You see, the agony is never confined to the addict. It splashes over to scald the addict’s family and friends.
Broken changed me. I turned the last page (I read everything…even the acknowledgements) with the confidence that I was a better person and a better advocate for the addicted because of it. I believe it will work the same for you.
I am aware of those who scoff at the concept that addiction is a disease. I may have stood among the scoffers once upon a time. That has not been true for many years because I know and affirm that addiction is not just a disease, it is a chronic condition. The victim did not choose it but is never free of it. Life-threatening relapse is a constant possibility. The addict must truly take life “One day at a time for twenty-four hours.”
Any addict will tell you that quitting is not the problem. Staying sober is the problem – and that cannot be done without help. As Moyers told Larry King when he asked, “So, William, how do you stay sober?” “Well Larry,” he said, “I lean on the collective wisdom of thousands of people who have come before me.” Sobriety is not a solo flight. To stay sober requires the fellowship of fellow-sufferers. It requires establishing and nurturing a daily connection with God.
With the pictures of an intoxicated David Hasselhoff circulating through networks and websites, the topic is hot once again. Predictably, shame and disgrace are being heaped upon him. One observer wrote, “David Hasselhoff, the star of the latest scandal, has once again confirmed that the cup was more important to him than work.” Oh really? That’s kind of ignorant oversimplification that does much more harm than good. He may have chosen the cup once, but now the cup chooses him. If you’ve seen the video, you must know that no sane person would choose to live like that.
Our world needs to be educated about addiction so that we will stop filling our jails with addicts and begin filling treatment programs with them. Treatment works! Support groups (Alcoholics Anonymous) work!
Education will help erase the stigma of addiction. Perhaps then we can stop throwing public dollars down the black hole of the failed war on drugs. As Moyers writes, “The war on drugs must shift from an obsessive focus on trying to reduce the supply through interdiction and criminal justice to promoting what works the best—recovery.”
Here is how to educate yourself:
1. Attend an open meeting of AA with your addicted friend or family member and remember to be “teachable.”
2. Read Broken.
3. Read AA’s “Big Book.”
4. Attend meetings of Alanon as often as possible.
Let’s meet the challenge of addiction with enlightened compassion and help repair those who are broken.