It can be hard to see your parent struggle with addiction only to have them lose their battle with it. By keeping the memory of your parent alive by remembering the good times you had with them, they will always stay with you. One teen in Egg Harbor Township decided to take it one step further by raising money to spread awareness of addiction in honor of her father.
State data says that there have been 1,304 deaths in New Jersey in 2014 and have doubled in 2018. Four years ago, Megan Herbein, a 16 year-old girl from Egg Harbor Township High School, lost her father to an overdose. He would have been 49 years-old this year. One way that Herbein decided to break the stigma of addiction was by speaking highly of her father. When others ask her about her father, she always wants them to know that he was always happy, telling jokes, and always nice to strangers. That just because her father suffered the disease of addiction did not mean that he was a bad person. Herbein remembers her father going to dance competitions, loved roller coasters, and would drive his daughter to school.
Atlantic County Sheriff Eric Scheffer and his office wanted to help connect the community with treatments and services by launching the Hope One mobile addiction outreach van. This unit is meant to help promote substance abuse and mental health awareness. Contributions and donations were received through the nonprofit Atlantic County Sheriff’s Foundation. Ever since the start of this program, at least ten people who sought out help with at least one person requesting treatment. Services and arrangements were made for that person in helping them with transportation and finding a residential treatment center.
Herbein’s mother heard about the Hope One project through social media and made sure to tell her daughter about it. This project inspired Herbein to want to raise money in honor of her dad. She emailed everyone she knew asking for donations in her father’s memory towards the Hope One van. In ten days, she was able to raise $1,100 with more money coming in.
By the time her parents separated, Herbein knew that there was something going on with her father. Her half-sisters knew more about their father’s addiction since they were older at the time that it escalated. The older Herbein got, the more that she started to understand the way addiction worked. It was hard for her to see her father like this since she “idolized” him very much.
Herbein hopes that this fundraiser that she created could be an annual thing and to be on the lookout for more opportunities to volunteer. Her, her mother, and grandmother are figuring out more ways that they can raise money for next year. By speaking about the person her father was, Herbein was showing to the community that her father was more than his addiction and his struggles but a human being like everyone else.
It may be hard to know what to tell a child when you know one of their parents is struggling with addiction. They may feel anger at their parent for not being able to stop or their age can make it hard for them to understand what addiction is. Herbein’s message that she wants others to know is that when someone is struggling to stop themselves from their substance abuse, it is no one’s fault and it does not mean that your parent does not love you.
Adults should let their children know that addiction is as much of a disease as when you need medical attention for a physical condition. That your parent might be behaving badly and saying mean things when the truth is, they have no control of what they are saying when they are drunk or high. Children should also know that addiction is not their fault or responsibility to try to stop it. All they can do if offer suggestions and find support towards when the situation becomes hard to handle. You should let your child know that there are many others out there whose parents struggle with addiction. You can give them the number in terms of statistics or find a support group for children to be able to speak about their experiences.
Let your children know that it is okay to speak to someone. There is still a big stigma of addiction where people tend to forget who the person struggling with their addiction was before. They do not need to be scared or embarrassed to speak about their parents. There should be no secret to having an addiction as people are going through it every day. Megan Herbein knew how important it was to speak about her father as people who heard about his death only know about the cause of death and not the person behind it. By letting people know who someone was outside of their disease is honoring that person in the highest light. By making attempts to break the stigma of addiction and mental illness in their own area will help honor the lives of those who died and making sure no one has to go through that type of loss again.
Located on the shore of Southern New Jersey, Enlightened Solutions is a recovery center that uses evidence-based therapies and holistic healing to treat addiction and mental illness. With the opportunity to learn about therapies that are keyed in to healing the human spirit and learning about new stress reducing techniques centered around a 12 step network, you will be ensure a lasting recovery. For more information, please call us at 833-801-LIVE as we are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
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