Substance Abuse: 775-825-HELP

Just a couple of weeks ago, JTNN and a number of our partners held a press conference at Reno City Hall featuring Mayor Bob Cashell, his wife, and his son, Pat who is openly in recovery from an addiction problem. The purpose of the press conference was to raise awareness and money for a heroin prevention campaign that we are putting on early in 2011.

During the event, Mayor Cashell faced the media, who were there in force, and said, “When my son Pat had an addiction problem, his mother and I didn’t know what to do.” Here is one of the most influential people in the Reno community saying, “I didn’t know what to do.” With tears in his eyes, the Mayor went on to talk about how his son had a problem for many years but now is sober and doing well.

There’s a lot we could talk about in that story but what really reaches out to me is the heart of a parent.

When a child, whether grown or not, has an addiction problem, so much goes through the parent’s mind. Some of these thoughts include, “I’m a terrible parent,” “What did I do wrong?” “What happened to my little one that used to play with toys and watch cartoons and was so excited about birthdays and Christmas?”

When a child becomes addicted, a parent’s heart breaks. It may look like anger or disappointment or depression or any number of things but it’s all about a broken heart.

I’ve talked to many parents and they all say something similar: “I didn’t know what to do but I would do anything that I could.” A parent’s heart may be broken, but that heart still hopes and prays and wants and works for the best outcome for his or her child.

Some parents get their child back and some don’t. Some of these children get into recovery and all is well. Some die. Others keep using drugs. And others may quit but they are never the same again. I remember one mother telling me that after her daughter used methamphetamine for a number of years, she finally received treatment and is doing well, “But,” the mother added, “She’s not the same person that she was…I miss that part of her.” That mother still loved her child and was thrilled that she made it out to the other side but she grieved for the child she lost to the addiction.

There’s more on my mind but what I’ve also learned about a parent’s heart is that most want to help. We are excited about the number of parents that have come forward during our heroin campaign. We hope more parents come forward for support from other parents, to volunteer, and to share their stories. I look forward to meeting each an every one of you.