I was shocked when an article showed up on my Facebook page today. Sesame Street has created a character whose parents are addicts. They are talking about actually drug addiction and the opiate crisis on frickin’ Sesame Street. I couldn’t believe it. Since losing my son’s father I have been very vocal about addiction and how it has affected me and my family. I have been very clear that keeping this kind of thing “hush hush” doesn’t do anyone any good and that mental health in general needs to be the topic of more conversations… but I had no idea how many little children are going through the same thing my son did.
According to the article I read of a similar name, “We’re not alone – ‘Sesame Street’ tackles addiction crisis “, 5.7 million children under age 11 live in households with a parent with substance use disorder. That number is disgusting. I’m sorry. I wish I could say it any other way, but it is. It is disgusting to know how many kids out there have parents who are struggling with addiction and mental illness and can’t get the help that they need. How many parents have kids that are struggling with addiction and mental illness and can’t get the help that they need.
I say that they can’t get the help that they need because I tried. I called every long term rehabilitation center that I could find in the tri-state area to get my son’s father into a real treatment program. Not just a 2 week or 30 day dry out, but a real 6 months or a year program. Of course he protested at first saying that it would disrupt his life to be gone for so long, but I finally made him realize that it was much more disruptive to keep having relapses.. to not actually fix the problem and only band-aid the symptoms. It would have been a lot less disruptive on his life to take a year to get healthy then to die alone in a “sober house” with his family 3 cities away and his sober house manager swearing he’s fine… he doesn’t notice anything wrong with him.
I made at least 20 phone calls to every long term facility that I could find all saying the same thing. Sure.. he’s more than welcome.. that’ll be $50,000… right.. how many addicts do you know that have over $100 in their pockets. None of them take insurance.. and none of the ones that take insurance do any real treatment.. they just clean up their puke while they detox and then then send them on their way telling them to find some sort of out patient program like NA/AA to help.. yeah.. stay away from other addicts… but go find meetings where all you do is meet other addicts.. great idea.
I’m not saying that NA/AA are bad programs. They just aren’t for everyone. They have a very strong link to God and surrendering to a higher power and trusting in that higher power to help. Only problem.. not everyone believes in God or a higher power. I know Neil didn’t. I know he stayed clean out of shear will power. He told me repeatedly that everything that he did was for me and our son. That he was living for his family and he knew that he had to stay clean in order to have us in his life.
Now I read this article about Sesame Street talking to millions of kids about their parents. Millions of kids whose mommies and daddies have to stay sober using nothing but will power. My son is not the only kid I know whose parent has died from the crisis.. my son is not the only kid I know that needed a monitor to make sure he was safe when his Da was using. I do not live in an urban city. My child goes to private school. We love in a small town. We go to church every week. To look at us we are not who you would assume would have an addict for a loved one. But that’s the point. None of us are… and we all need to start talking about it if we want to save the mommies and daddies of those 5.7 million children. If we want to save the life of just one.