My Name Is Ellen
My name is Ellen and I am an addict’s mom.
I grew up in a small college town in the mountains of North Carolina. After graduating from college in 1978 I married my high school sweetheart and moved to Los Angeles. After having adventures living in various large cities across the southeastern United States we settled in Atlanta, my husband’s hometown, and had two children.
When our oldest child was 15 we moved to south Florida. The “pill mill” crisis was just cranking up and the epicenter was not far from where we lived. The south Florida lifestyle is quite different from what we had experienced living in Georgia and my oldest child told me she felt like she had been dropped on another planet. She smoked her first OxyContin pill at her high school graduation party and was almost immediately addicted.
I did not know for a long time that my daughter was suffering from substance use disorder. When I look back now I realize that I missed a lot of signs but at that time I had never known anyone in active addiction and I knew nothing about the disease at all. I didn’t even think it was a disease.
I became completely lost in the sadness of addiction. On the outside, to the world, I appeared to be doing well. I had personal and professional success. It looked like I was living the American Dream. But, on the inside, I was broken, fearful and shattered. It was through my own brokenness that I found the support groups that saved me. I was surprised to find that there were a lot of people out there that were going through the same horrors that I was. “Normal” people who did everything they were supposed to do and it still went terribly wrong. Families are often forgotten in the mayhem that comes with the disease but we are broken too. We need to shatter the stigma and shame and misunderstanding about addiction. There is no shame in being sick. We are in the middle of an unprecedented epidemic that is killing a lot of people every single day. For it to get better people need information and ideas. The way addicts are treated by the legal system, by the rehab system and by society in general needs to change. As long as I have a voice I will continue to bring information out of the shadows. If you are suffering from the disease of addiction or love someone who is you are not alone. There is hope. That is why I am a MIRACLE IN RECOVERY.