For several years I've had this father-of-an-addict blog and have been writing about my son's addiction and recovery journey. I've also been very involved in advocating for addicts and the recovery movement. And I belong to more Facebook groups dealing with addiction and recovery than you can probably imagine. Two of those groups are The Addict's Mom and The Addict's Dad.
As of this writing, here are the membership numbers for those two groups:
The Addict's Mom = 7,936
The Addict's Dad = 104
Seriously? Yup. Those are the numbers. The mom's group has more than 7,832 more members than the dad's group does.
It should be noted that these numbers are not necessarily indicative of how many moms and dads actually belong to each group.The reason is that both groups have members who are of the opposite sex. (Dads belong to the mom's group and vice versa.) But I think you get the idea.
These lopsided numbers have me wondering: Are mothers of addicts more passionate about the cause than fathers of addicts are? It sure seems like it.
The Addict's Mom group page on Facebook is constantly humming with activity: Mothers posting about the status of their addict son or daughter; asking for help from other mothers; opening up and venting about how frustrated, angry, and hurt they are; offering stories of hope; and, sadly, letting the community know that they've lost their loved one to drugs.
The Addict's Dad group page is different. Most of its activity is people posting links to articles and blog posts; photos with affirmations on them; etc. There is very little--if any--back and forth discussion among dads. You don't see status updates on addicts or venting or any of the more personal stuff you see every single day on The Addict's Mom page.
As a very compassionate and empathetic father, this troubles me a bit. Why are moms so open and willing to discuss their child's addiction while fathers, it would appear, are content to keep things to themselves?
Is it the whole "men should be tough and macho and not show their feelings" mentality? Are fathers more ashamed of their child's addiction than mothers are? I suppose it could be a combination of those things...and more.
If the disparity in the "Mom" and "Dad" Facebook numbers weren't enough, let me add this to the mix: The Addict's Mom also has a separate website that has over 20,000 members spread across the United States and 52 countries. Wow. That's saying something for the mothers of addicts and their passion about the subject. "The Addict's Mom: Sharing without Shame." That subtitle of the website says it all, I think.
I would be remiss if I ended this blog post without extending kudos to Barbara Theodosiou, the founder of The Addict's Mom; and Duana Wilkins and Kathy Frasier, the group's executive and regional directors. Both the Facebook page and the website are incredibly useful resources for anyone with a loved one going through the horror of addiction. It doesn't have to be your child, and you don't even have to be a mom. You just have to need a place to share your pain and help you heal. Believe me: The Addict's Mom is just that. If you haven't visited their pages, I urge you to do so.
I also want to point out that there are dads out there who are passionate and on fire when it comes to advocating for addicts and recovery. I know many of them. But there aren't enough. If you're a father of an addict, stand up for your son or daughter. Share your story on Facebook pages and websites. Doing so won't make you any less of a man. In fact, it might just make you feel better about yourself and lift a tremendous weight off of your shoulders.
Mothers and fathers of addicts are some of the most heroic people there are. We are all human beings and we should never be ashamed. Because none of us are alone.
P.S. I'd like to note that The Addict's Mom is a community sponsor for the Heroes in Recovery 6K race in South Florida on May 3rd. As a lead advocate for Heroes in Recovery, I would like to thank The Addict's Mom group for their participation.