We were “that” family, the family that everyone knew and thought of as the “perfect” family in our community.

While we couldn’t imagine something like this happening to us, we could no longer deny our son’s drug addiction. It was no longer something that happened to other people, it was happening to us, it was happening to “that” family.

I am here to tell you it can happen to any of us – and it did. Our family lived through and is still navigating the long road to recovery.

Everything changed when we decided to stop hiding from the reality our family was facing addiction. It was time to stop being ashamed and afraid, and time to speak up and ask for help. That decision changed everything for us and put us on a path to recovery. We also realized there were more families just like us who were suffering in silence.

For families like ours throughout Lexington County, it’s time we stand up to the stigma. We’ve all seen the images – “the dirty drug addict” in the alleys and shadows of a big city. The young man or woman in torn and tattered clothes with a needle in their arm.

But these images create a stigma that don’t tell the whole story. The disease of addiction can affect any of us. It’s an athlete burdened by the pain and pressure of their sport, it’s a mother just trying to balance the demands of work and family life, it’s the college student who starts taking pills to manage stress and stay awake in class, it’s the youth group leader who is trying to manage their pain, it could be any of us and, the reality is, addiction impacts all of us.

It’s time we stop being ashamed and feeling disgraced and reach out for help. Because if we don’t, this deadly disease is going to continue to find its way into more and more families in our communities.

Let’s end the stigma of addiction. My son is more than his addiction, our family is greater than this disease. We choose courage over stigma.

Lori Porter

Chapin