Bill Williams ’69 Tells the Story of Son’s Drug Addiction (New York Times)

William Head Williams

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.


  1. Eric Weis '73 says:

    Kudos to Bill Williams for sharing this pain which afflicts so many of us. Bowdoin has an old and nearby connection to the world of substance abuse. The Hyde School in Bath was founded by the Gauld family. Its program is based, in part, on the 12-step AA model. Buy one of Joe Gauld’s books. Or find a Hyde alumni (students and parents alike).

  2. I was friends with Will in high school. This breaks my heart. I cannot believe it.

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