Two years ago, Bill Williams ’69 and his wife learned that their 22-year-old son, William, was addicted to heroin. Shortly before William’s 24th birthday, he accidentally overdosed. When it was clear William would continue in a persistent vegetative state, his family removed him from life support.
“In the beginning,” Bill Williams writes in his New York Times op-ed “Ending the Secrecy of a Child’s Addiction,” the family kept their battle secret, both to shield their privacy and also out of a sense of shame. “How could we possibly explain the corrosion in the midst of our well-reared, respectable family?” Williams writes.
Williams reflects on how he and his family learned to open up and share their story, which in turn prompted others to speak about their experiences with addiction, all of them “quite separate from a world racing on.” These stories need to be told, Williams insists. “Secrecy and anonymity are part of the disease, for addict and family alike,” he says.