The Road To Addiction: One Reader's Story

09/10/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011

For the past few months I have been writing about substance abuse and the road to addiction as a weekly blog. I have received many comments and e-mails from responsible, caring people and I am grateful that they have taken the time to share their opinions and sometimes their own personal stories with me. Though all have touched my mind or my heart in one way or another, I would like to share Darrell Hampton's comments which he wrote regarding my blog about how trauma can lead to addiction. Darrell's story may shed some light on just how challenging addiction and substance abuse can be to overcome in ways you may never have imagined.

Thank you Darrell for allowing us to post your letter which represents both emotional humiliation and unabashed courage; you are an inspiration to us all whether we are dealing with substance abuse issues or not.

In addition, my personal thanks to my editor Russell Bishop and the Huffington Post for extending me the opportunity to explore and discuss the difficult and painful arena of addiction; which allows the Darrell Hampton's of the world to respond freely and openly.

Dear Carole,

Reading your column in The Huffington Post was a Godsend for me today. I'd never heard of you and have felt for years that my opinion on my reasons for substance abuse were only my own.

On August 9, 2001 my mother suddenly and unexpectedly died. Six months later, on February 14, 2002 my only daughter was abducted, held at her captor's home and brutally raped for six very long days.

I responded with the worst experience of substance abuse imaginable, ending a 25 year marriage and concluding in treatment at the VA Medical Center. While there, trying to get a handle on what was happening to me and rejecting this antiquated theory that I was genetically predisposed to be an addict, it became a personal goal of those providing treatment to put me in my place and break me into a "time to go to a meeting" 12 step addict.

My storied experience persisted for over 6 years and has culminated in acts of patient abuse that would make your hair stand on edge. It did not help that I am black and my abusers are white. Racism dominated these relationships and concluded with seven VA. employees no longer holding positions in the Mental Health Care Line of the Dayton VA. The last person to be forced out for my charges of patient abuse was actually the Director-Chief of the Mental Health Care Line.

I have been free of substance abuse for five and a half years now and I live a productive life again. I knew that something horrible happening to me combined with my lack of the coping skills to deal with catastrophes was the cause of my problems but I was in the minority.

Having an entire department of Mental Health professionals pounding everyday to convince me that I was wrong and I was simply a hopeless addict actually hindered my recovery by years. It made the mountain so much harder to climb.

Thank you for bringing new thought and new words to recovery.
Sincerely yours,
Darrell Hampton

Clearly, not all addicts wind up with substance abuse issues triggered by this kind of personal tragedy and not everyone is equally prepared when they do arise. Thanks, again, Darrell for putting your very human face on this difficult issue.

If you, or anyone you know needs assistance with a loved one's substance abuse, please feel free to call me, Carole Bennett, toll free at (877) 222-6002. I invite you to visit my website at