Saturday, February 15, 2014

Where Are the Dads?

I've been noticing something for quite a while and decided I'd blog about it today.

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.


  1. Sadly, the father of my addict is an alcoholic. He has been to caught up in his own addiction to be of any help. My son says being abandoned by his own father contributed to him being an addict, now he has abandoned his own child. I really hope we can break the addiction chain.

  2. Thanks, Dean for this evocative and great read.

    After empathizing deeply by being the son of an addict, an addict and the father of an addict, it's quite clear that addiction and its descriptive words and language have become pejorative and the community as a whole, subjugated to something we desperately want to talk about, but the culture does not.

    I have gathered in a mens group for twenty years. Weekly meetings to practice mastery in moral, spiritual and emotional intelligence while trying to quiet and quell the intellectual intelligence we're all reared to place in highest regard.

    The reason we don't gather in larger numbers is that we don't know how to do it. The culture, up until recently has not placed any value on this kind of deeper, interactive communication among men. When it's safe and clear that our sharing will add to our providing and protecting our families, more men will show up because when men can show up and stay in these ways, the world will be a safer and better place.

    Let's lose the language of "addict and alcoholic" by getting together to talk about how to do it. How 'bout "Dads in Recovery." It takes a family.

  3. Dean, you raised a great question. I like what Herby said above about the nature of our make-up to gather in groups. It is hard for men to share their humble, vulnerable side. Those that have in other areas of their life have found great power in the experience. It just is not a normal process for guys. This is a big reason I have challenged myself to step up and become more engaged is because there are a lot of dads who need love, support, and a place to safely let go.

  4. I am a 60 year old female. My husband and I have a 27 year old son who is a heroin addict. My husband would never talk to someone one-on-one or on a blog site about Matt. My husband is a workaholic and just can't seem to find the time for helping me with aiding Matt and his addiction. I am alone. It is so frustrating. My husband is all about the Dollar Bill. Making money, spending money, giving me none. Over the years he has taken to three different women that I know of to offer him comfort because of the stress at home. I have no job, no car, no bank account, no family and no friends. I am discouraged that the male population doesn't speak up about this rising problem across the country. For they are the ones that run the country, am I right? He has served me with divorce papers on Easter Sunday of 2012 and the divorce is pending as of this writing. I am in total despair but I shall soldier on.

  5. Our son is an addict. It seems to me that it is more of a shame issue with men. For me as a woman, I've them felt shame. It is better for me to talk to everyone about it and get it off my mind. I am grateful to be able to do that and feel sorry for my husband that he keeps it all built up in side. Addiction is a disease, let's find a cure.