The following op-ed piece appeared in The Beatrice-Daily Sun (NE) on Thursday 9/6/07
For the last nine years September has been recognized as National Alcohol and Drug Addiction Recovery Month. As our knowledge continues to expand on the costs of physical and emotional pain caused by addiction, there are still some facts that affect us all.
The Center For Disease Control believe that 25% of Americans die of substance abuse. 95% of untreated addicts die of their addiction. 50% of traffic deaths are alcohol related. 50% of homicides are alcohol related. Every year over 100,000 Americans die of alcohol. The sad part with these figures is that too many people die from alcoholism and drug addiction. Too many deaths that can be stopped. They are not all "skid-row" bums. For the most part they are good people. They are our mothers and fathers; our husbands and wives; our brothers and sisters; our sons and daughters. They could be our neighbors or our co-workers.
I know first hand of the pains of an alcoholic death. Well over 30 years ago, my mom froze to death behind a bar. She was found on February 5th, frozen face first into the ground, during a brutal cold spell.
Four days before her death, she left our home, after days of savage beatings delivered by my father. They were both alcoholics and the only thing that was a constant in our house was fear. My mom was out of control, my dad was out of control, and they were in control of me. It’s not a healthy environment for anyone to grow up in.
The sad part was that my folks were good people. Mom was active on many church committees, while my dad coached legion baseball teams and was an avid florist. But no one saw what happened behind closed doors. They were good people who were alcoholics.
I, too, followed my parents path, and somewhere along the line social drinking turned into an addiction. I don’t blame them for my addiction, it was my choice. Just as it was my choice to seek out help. By the Grace of God, I have been blessed with 13 years of sobriety.
Today I share my stories through my books, websites, and yes, this newspaper. I share my experience, strength, and hope, in a way that keeps me sober and hopefully guides others on the path to recovery.
But my efforts are only a drop in the bucket. Over 5,000 young people die every year from alcohol-related causes. The only way we are ever going to stop alcoholism and addiction is through our children.
I support common-sense, research-based measures that will help reduce underage drinking, including:
- Increasing alcohol prices through taxes, particularly on beer;
- Limiting alcohol advertising and marketing targeted at young people;
- Implementing a national media campaign that counters alcohol industry messages and uses social marketing to affect attitudes and behavior;
- Adopting and enforcing laws to prevent alcohol-related deaths and injuries among young people;
- Promoting alcohol free events for kids;
- Expanding counseling and support for kids, especially those with addicted parents.
This is part of a national campaign to stop underage drinking. These measures can be found at the website www.GetSerious.org I signed it and sent it to all our state senators as well as our governor. It takes about five minutes of your time to fill out the information and voice your concern for the health of our young people.
On a couple of different occasions I have talked to different law enforcement agencies. I’ve mentioned to them about a statement I heard years ago and they all agreed. That 90% of the crimes committed were by 10% of the population. And out of that 10% - 90% was alcohol or drug related.
From law enforcement, to our medical facilities, to our community, everyone wins when the alcoholic/addict starts their recovery. Please offer them your support.