Wednesday, October 28, 2009
What if your secrets had the power to take the lives of innocent people? Every day millions of people struggle with the disease of addiction under the radar of their friends and family. The stigmas that accompany alcoholism drive many high functioning alcoholics into the closet. The thought of being branded an alcoholic by one's peers is too much for a mother or father that suffers from the disease to handle. High functioning addicts work overtime to cover up their problem, with the hope that they can go just one more day undetected.
Unfortunately, those same high functioning alcoholics are the people, the Diane Schuler's, we have seen in the news lately. Addiction can be invisible and go unchecked by friends and family for many years, then, tragically one day an accident takes place that strips innocent people of their lives. Oprah recently did a special covering the topic of mothers who have managed to hide their addiction from everyone and then were in horrific accidents. She talked with the family members of the people who died in the Schuler accident, as well toxicology experts who were involved with case. What is clearly evident is that many people, even after the accident, are in denial about the severity of Diane Schuler's problem; Schuler's husband even hired a private investigator to prove that the toxicology reports were false and that there is no way she was an alcoholic or was even drinking that day - let alone high on marijuana. Only three months after the accident, Oprah's special on Diane Schuler's accident points out and makes even more clear that it is very difficult to argue with science; there is no sense trying to prove that Schuler was not an alcoholic, what matters is spreading the message that we need to confront our loved ones if we suspect there is a problem.
Denial is a major component to addiction thriving inside people unchecked. Diane Schuler's family's protestations that there was no problem is very hard to believe given the evidence. Even after the tragedy, a tragedy that took seven innocent people's lives, Schuler's husband will not face the facts. This story has brought a surge of women who are stepping up and declaring that they have a problem which they have managed to hide; before anything tragic happens in their lives it is time to start speaking out to raise awareness. There is no reason children's lives should be placed in jeopardy, if you recognize that there is a problem with a friend or family member the responsible thing to do is speak out about it. You never know how many lives could be saved by a single act of concern; there are many support networks that can be tapped in order to save someone from the disease of addiction.