As any parent will tell you, raising a confident, caring child in today’s world is incredibly difficult. But when drugs and alcohol are added to the equation, families can become the opposite of what we would hope them to be. It’s hard to overstate the corrosive effects that a family member’s addiction can have on a child. Instead of love, support and security, families afflicted by addiction often flood a child’s life with fear, guilt, sadness, anger and confusion.
Children of addiction feel a tremendous sense of isolation. When no one cares enough to talk to them honestly about what is happening, they believe it is their fault – that they’ve done something wrong, and their lives are not important.
It’s no wonder then that children of addiction are at the highest risk to 1) become addicts themselves, 2) form relationships as adults with other addicts, and 3) need help from mental health and family service agencies. They are more likely to be physically, sexually, verbally and emotionally abused. These children tend to lose hope; their sense of optimism dims, and they have a hard time learning how to love and trust another person, because they haven’t felt those emotions themselves.
Addiction is an epidemic on the rise in our country, yet children of addiction are left to their own devices to cope. The family is too impaired to help, and society typically doesn’t respond until a child ends up in the juvenile justice or mental health systems.
But in different areas of our country, community members are rising to the need of this staggering number of young people. On November 16th, The Meadows sponsored a table at a celebrity dinner and fundraising auction on behalf of Pitch4Kidz.org here in the Phoenix area. PITCH 4 KIDZ offers an educational and support program for children ages 6 – 12 who grow up in families struggling with addiction. Stacey Beck, wife of former Major League Baseball Pitcher Rod Beck, founded PITCH 4 KIDZ to help children affected by their parent’s substance abuse. After losing Rod to addiction in 2007, Stacey’s 12-year-old daughter, who had experienced a five-day children’s program at the age of 8, told her mother they needed to make meaning from her father’s life and death. Stacey then pursued a mental health degree becoming a family counselor and uniting with Bobby McGinley, another local Scottsdale therapist, creating this incredible organization. Jim Sharpe, a local, well-known radio host, co-hosted the event. Music laced the background and comedian Lawyer Johnson brought the audience to great laughter and then tears as he spoke eloquently about his own childhood struggles and the need to know what you stand for. Multiple current and retired professional baseball and football players and coaches were in attendance, with sports items being the most predominant items up for auction. Our Sr. Fellow Claudia Black offered a poignant thirty minute keynote discussing the impact of addiction on children and the underlying impact of trauma, reinforcing the need for resources for young children and how we can all individually and collectively make a difference in their lives. The Meadows is proud to support this organization and recognizes that together we can all make a difference in the lives of youngsters struggling with addiction and trauma.
Pictured are Dr. Claudia Black (center) and Stacy Beck (far left), founder of PITCH 4 KIDZ, along with The Meadows staff who attended the fundraiser.