I have worked with people struggling with addiction for the past eighteen years. In that time, I have noticed that a lot of shame is attached to people who struggle with addiction. This shame is sometimes called a "stigma."

Even though addiction is a common struggle, people stuck in addiction often feel alone and that no one will understand. They feel ashamed of their addiction and fear what will happen if others know they are struggling. So, they struggle by themselves instead of asking for support from others.

This is especially true for mothers who struggle with addiction. They may even know their addiction is harming their children, but they fear judgment from others and maybe even losing their children. So they try to hide the signs of their addiction.

I once asked a young mother who was in recovery from addiction about her experience in seeking help. Her addiction had started after the birth of her son when she was struggling with extreme postpartum depression. She said she felt guilty that she didn't have that "happy joy" about her little baby the way she thought she should. She was too embarrassed to admit to anyone how she was feeling, so she turned to prescription painkillers to keep from feeling so sad and overwhelmed. Then her painkiller habit turned into a heroin habit. It wasn't until her husband found empty heroin bags in the car and confronted her that she was forced to get the help she needed.

This mother, like so many others battling addiction, was ashamed and fearful of what would happen if she reached out for help.

But it doesn't have to be this way. It is true that some people in the world look down on mothers who struggle with addiction. But many people understand how difficult a battle with addiction can be and want to help.

The mother I mentioned got the help she needed and recently did a radio broadcast sharing her story to give hope to other mothers struggling with addiction. There are treatment centers all over the country that will look at you as a whole person, treat you with kindness and love, and walk with you as you fight to conquer your addiction.

If you are struggling in silence with addiction, you don't have to! Be brave and seek help. Maybe your story will help someone else be brave, too.

MaryAnn Gardner, MS, M.Ed-HS-BCP, currently is the Director of Life Change Programs of the Bridgeport Rescue Mission. She is passionate about inspiring hope and teaching life skills so her clients will have the help needed to become all they can be. If in Bridgeport, CT, tune into to her radio show on WICC 600 AM every other Friday at 9:05 in the morning dealing with the crisis of opioid addiction.

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