I will be managing A Place For Mary website and will be periodically blogging on the site and, therefore, thought I would introduce myself to you. I first want to thank all of those who have followed this site since its inception in 2016. I hope that you have been passing forward any of its content that may have helped inform you about addiction and supports for families. Special thanks to Betsy, whose dedication to providing a safe place for families to visit to find resources has been admirable and never ending.
l am Kathy from Harbor and I will be taking over this website as part of Harbor’s Heroin/Opiate Initiative. The initiative is made possible through funds provided by the Mental Health and Recovery Services Board of Lucas County. It was organized in 2014 as a response to the overdose epidemic and consists of the provision of video-based presentations that bring awareness and education about the overdose epidemic. You may have seen the logo and viewed the video on this website.
I am proud to be the current provider of most of the initiative’s presentations. I am motivated to this work because of the impact addiction has made on me. As I grew up, I experienced addiction in my family…. but I had no name for it. It was never talked about. My father would brag that he never had a cigarette to his lips, and that he would never drink to access. But he did not mention that his father, a heavy smoker, lost a job as a firefighter in Detroit and that he moved his family to Toledo to find work because of his alcoholism. Although I did not know that my Grandfather was addicted to alcohol, I did know that many of my relatives had “a drinking problem.” I did not know until years later what that meant. I am describing stigma here. My heart broke when I heard Mary’s story. I identified with the isolation she must have felt when she tried to navigate through her son’s addiction. Addiction to any substance, whether it is alcohol, prescription medications, cocaine, heroin was, in my growing up, considered to be a matter of choice and succumbing to any substance, a matter of weakness. Addiction was shameful to talk about, was avoided and the consequence of the avoidance is still, in my situation, being experienced.
We know better now. Addiction, or substance use disorder, is a relapsing, treatable disease of the brain. We must not succumb to stigma, but fight stigma. The first steps are information and support. That is what A Place For Mary is all about. This site provides information about the disease and most importantly, information about the resources available for the family so that the silence is broken. My fervent hope is that no one lingers in the stigma as did Mary.