From Humans of New York: Addiction, a Family Disease

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Picture of young family: young parents holding hands with small female child / daughter

Started in November 2010 by photographer Brandon Stanton, Humans of New York (HONY) is a photoblog and bestselling book featuring street portraits and interviews collected in New York City. With more than eight million followers on social media, HONY now provides a worldwide audience with daily glimpses into the lives of strangers in New York City.

One story about a family affected by the mother’s crack addiction was featured recently in HONY. Addiction is a family disease, and at Mountainside, we believe a family must recover together. To see a snapshot of how addiction affected this family, read the story below.


“From the ages of 7 to 12, we were pretty much on our own. Sometimes we’d be left alone for days at a time. We wouldn’t have lights, water, or heat. At night we’d huddle around the stove for warmth. We lived in a bad neighborhood, so we knew what was going on. We even knew where the crack house was. We’d walk down the street to see if our mom’s car was parked out front. We ate whatever we could find. Some days it was just cereal and sardines. We shared what we had. My younger brother was the hustler. He was nine. He’d knock on doors in the neighborhood, looking for jobs. He mowed lawns, raked leaves, shoveled snow. Then he’d always share his money with us to buy food. But a lot of times our mom would take it for herself. One time my mom brought us home a dog. We pooled all our money together to buy it food, and took care of it for a while. But it got sick one day, and we didn’t know what to do, and we couldn’t find our mom. So it died.”

“It got so bad that we started hiding our mother’s keys just to keep her from going to the crack house. My grandmother finally rescued us from her right before I went into middle school. When we got taken away, my mother really went off the deep end. We never heard from her. There was a lot of resentment from my side. It was an awkward age. And whenever there were events at school and my friends brought their parents, I’d get angry all over again. Things started to change when I was 15. I got a really bad case of the West Nile Virus and I almost died, and suddenly Mom got serious about rehab. She didn’t laugh it off anymore. She’d call and talk about the things she was learning in her counseling sessions. She’d tell me about the milestones she reached. She finally got clean and now we’re best friends. We talk every day. Out of all my siblings, I’ve been the most forgiving. I think it was easiest for me because I managed to separate the addiction from the person. Even with how bad it got, and with everything she put us through, there was never a moment that I doubted she loved us.”

To see more stories from HONY, visit its Facebook page. And remember: Recovery is possible.

If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, Mountainside can help.
Click here or call (888) 833-4676 to speak with one of our addiction treatment experts.