A Family Disease – Wendy Blanchard, MS, CHHC

As a woman who has survived Substance Use Disorder, I offer my story to offer hope to others, and to their families.

Substance  Use Disorder  is a family disease in that it affects the entire family. As I continue to rebuild after 5 1/2 years in recovery, the devastation that this life threatening brain disease has left behind still continues to follow me. I think about others who are diagnosed with other life-threatening diseases whose families do not blame them for their illness, yet stand strong beside them to love and comfort them during their illness,  and most especially in their time of recovery.

My hope for other families is to offer compassion and empathy to their loved ones during, and  most especially after, their disease goes into remission. Having the love and support of one’s family in recovery from any disease is the most important factor in a sustainable and successful recovery for the patient, and for the family as well. Connection is the key to recovery and the love  of one’s family keeps the door wide open.

If loved ones continue in an ongoing dialogue, resentment and hurt feelings don’t have a chance to build, and we feel safe expressing our thoughts and emotions where we experience a deeper bond…where we have mutual love, support and healing.

When loved ones hold everything in where they are not sharing their fear, and  feelings of hopelessness that their loved one will not survive, or the disappointment that may be born from the specific behaviors associated with Substance Use Disorder…we experience a broken foundation that, without the proper tools, may never re-cement their relationships. If we wait years  to share our feelings and emotions where we are hiding behind a mask, we cannot expect others to know what we need in healing ourselves, or our relationship. With kindness,  with empathy and compassion, and with a clear understanding of this disease, we can remain in a loving and healing space…together.

It’s all about being educated on this disease as a tool of empowerment in navigating through as a family, as well as staying connected  to one’s feelings, and the feelings of our loved ones with respect and compassion for the wide range of emotions of all who are affected…validating everyone’s emotions without judgement.

Substance Use Disorder is a complicated disease with many components  that need to be managed simultaneously. As a family, we must support each other, seek outside professional guidance and support for ourselves, and lovingly ensure the continued recovery of our loved one.

Love, empathy and knowledge of this disease offers healing.

Love and blessings,





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