Before I met Ali, I knew that she'd developed an addiction to drugs and alcohol when she was only 14-years-old. I instantly had an image in my mind of the type of person I was going to meet, an image that, after the fact, could not have been farther from the truth. After meeting Ali, I was reminded that it's the stigma that surrounds addiction that forms our perceptions about the addict. We fail to look past the illness and see the person.
That's the reason Ali doesn’t go around telling people that she was an addict, even though she is in recovery. “People only hear the addiction part.” she says, “and they think I'm someone who lacks will power, and that I'm weak.”
As you'll see in this video, Ali, despite early attempts to get clean, finally found a treatment method that worked for her, a treatment method that included the support of her family, and help and guidance from other recovering alcoholics and drug addicts.
The impact of addiction is never limited to only the addict. Addiction can devastate a family, and when dealing with teenage addiction, parents can often be pulled apart. That's why I decided to interview Ali’s mother, Ramona, to find out how her family pulled together, and stayed together, as Ali fought her way back to recovery.
In the video below, Ramona tells us about her family's experience, the warning signs that existed, and the therapy everyone received, so that the whole family could recover together.
Next week, as Voices of Mental Illness, our web-exclusive video series as part of TVO's Mental Health Matters special continues, we'll be profiling people with bipolar disorder and personality disorder.