Today, I heard a song that said, “We’re all lost on the yellow brick road.” Those lyrics took me back to the days of Aaron’s addiction. The Wizard of Oz is one of my all time favorite movies, but those lyrics made me think of it from the perspective of our family’s journey through addiction. If you’ve experienced watching a loved one struggle with addiction, you know that addiction brings all family members along with the addict, just as Dorothy took others on her journey to find the wizard. As I pondered on Dorothy’s travels, I thought of it as in acts like a play….sort of how our journey with addiction began.
In the beginning, Dorothy landed in Oz, and as we all remember, her house landed on the Wicked Witch of the East. She had freed the residents of Munchkinland from their adversary. Their was a festive celebration in the land, and Dorothy joined the Munchkins and Glenda the Good Witch in the joyous occasion. That’s how life was before Aaron’s addiction took over our family. No times weren’t always that joyous, but times were good. Our family lived in bliss…no major struggles….no major tragedies….just life and all of its little ups and downs. As our family continued our journey down the yellow brick road, it was pretty uneventful in the beginning. On this journey, we met new people just as Dorothy did, and we experienced minor setbacks and struggles. At one point in Dorothy’s quest, however, she and her friends encountered the Wicked Witch of the West….that’s kind of how our journey with addiction began. There were signs of looming trouble, but it hadn’t fully grasped Aaron and our family yet. Despite the encounter with the evil witch, Dorothy and her companions continued in their pursuit of the wizard. And our family continued our journey in life, even with the trouble that was beginning to stir. I felt I had things under control, despite the warnings that there were changes taking place inside of Aaron….just as Dorothy and her companions felt they had control of their surroundings regardless of the ominous threats made by the Wicked Witch of the West. Little did I know that the spells of the witch were more powerful than I could ever imagine.
Shortly after Dorothy’s encounter with the witch, she and her friends came across a field of poppies…effected by the witch in an effort to gain possession of the ruby slippers. As the group ran through the poppies, the spell overtook them and they fell asleep. This mirrored Aaron’s struggle with addiction and my naïveté to the power of addiction. Just as Glenda helped Dorothy and her companions on their journey, Aaron had times of remission, if you, will…times where he was working hard to overcome his addiction. It was a roller coaster ride between sobriety and relapses. That roller coaster was extremely emotional for all involved, because you experience times of hope that make you feel as if things are going to work out. But….As soon as you begin to feel that hope, the rug is jerked out from under you as the addict succumbs to the craving and relapses. In the end, all worked out for Dorothy and her friends…they defeated their foe and received the desires of their heart. For some families that deal with addiction, their story ends well…just as Dorothy’s story had ended. However, for others, the spell of addiction wins…which is what happened to our family…which I never even thought was possible….because it never happens to you….right?
As you travel down your yellow brick road, remember….anything is possible…just because you think it can’t or won’t happen to your family doesn’t mean you are untouchable. Tragedy is no respecter of persons….it can strike anyone…just as addiction can touch anyone.
Our country is facing a drug crisis…now described as an epidemic. Keep in mind that epidemics randomly affect the population. We are all just as susceptible as another. If you choose to judge addicts…remember….you never know what lurks ahead of you on your yellow brick road.
In honor of Aaron Langford, Christopher Sullivan, Dane McCoy, David Coffey…and the countless others who have lost their battle to addiction…
And to their mothers…Jan, Sherry, and Rhonda…and the numerous others that I don’t know….my heart hurts for the pain you feel.