Addiction’s Effects on Loved Ones

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By ERIN COONEY

Staff Reporter

On Wednesday, Feb 27, Liberation Program’s CEO John Hamilton spoke to the Sacred Heart community regarding the effects addiction has on loved ones. Following Hamilton’s speech was a mother-daughter duo who opened up about the daughter’s struggles with addiction.

The colloquia was held in a completely full University Commons. Alcohol and Drug Intervention and Prevention Specialist Janice Kessler opened the event by discussing why people take drugs. The stage then turned to John Hamilton who spoke on the topic of addiction as a whole.

Hamilton emphasized the difference between being an addict and merely doing drugs.

One-time drug use does not necessarily mean that tragedy will strike, but those who are initially uncomfortable in their own skin are the most concerning cases. These people will take drugs to disconnect, and often have mental health disorders as well.

A statistic Hamilton shared was that there are 175 Americans that die each day due to a drug overdose, and when alcohol is factored into the equation, the number of deaths rises to 415.

The acronym CRAFFT acts as a self-assessment tool for your risk of addiction. It’s a series of questions concerning substance abuse:

C – Car: Have you ever been behind the wheel while drunk or high?

R – Relaxed: Do you drink or use drugs to relax?

A – Alone: Do you drink or smoke alone?

F – Family & Friends: Are they concerned about you facing addiction?

F – Forget: Have you ever forgotten things due to drugs or alcohol?

T – Trouble: Have you ever been in trouble for your actions or consumption of drugs or alcohol?

If the answer to two of these questions is yes, the risk of addiction stands at 40%. With three “yes” answers, the level of risk rises to 63%.

After Hamilton discussed addiction with the audience, the mother-daughter duo explained and emphasized the effects of addiction on loved ones with their personal, first hand account.

Young adult Allie Carnan opened up to the listeners about her drug addiction. Carnan came from a “normal” home in a “normal” neighborhood, but as she highlighted in her speech, addiction does not care about normal.

Carnan’s older brother and relatives faced addiction issues, but she never thought it would be her being charged with twelve felonies and issued a nine month prison sentence as a result of substance abuse.

“My addiction stemmed from years and years of untreated mental health disorders,” said Carnan. “I didn’t even know I had anxiety.”

Carnan started by smoking weed, then transitioned to prescription pills, and followed shortly thereafter with steady cocaine usage.  “I would not remember my trauma, or feel anxiety or depression. I could go to class without any problems when I used it,” said Cana.

After college, Carmen’s life fell apart because of her addiction. After multiple rehab sessions and recovery periods, she managed to sober up and is currently working at a nonprofit organization in Norwalk that works to enhance the mental health of drug addicts.

Carmen’s mother then came to the stage and shared her experiences and emotions regarding her children’s battles with addiction.

“The rug was ripped right out from under me. I felt guilty, wondering what I did wrong,” said Allie’s mother. “Why did they not listen to me?”

“The mother and daughter that spoke almost brought tears to my eyes. Their story was told so truthfully that I could feel the emotion. I appreciated hearing both sides to addiction present in a family,” said junior nursing major Vincina Bivona.

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