From Addiction to Recovery: Moyers Family Shares Their Story

In 1994, Bill Moyers—nationally renowned journalist, political commentator, and Distinguished Alumnus—found himself at an Atlanta crack house, picking up his son William, then 35, from the floor where he lay in a cocaine- and alcohol-induced haze.

William has been sober ever since, penning a bestselling memoir about his recovery and now working in public affairs for the Hazelden Foundation, an addiction treatment center in Minnesota. And Wednesday night in a candid discussion at the LBJ Library, he and his parents Bill, BJ ’56, and Judith Moyers, BS ’56, Life Members, opened up about their journey back from the brink, all in the hopes of raising awareness.

“No generation is immune to the ravages of addiction,” William told a crowd of about 750 in the library’s auditorium.

Co-sponsored by UT’s Center For Students in Recovery, the event brought William’s battle with alcohol and drug addiction to light, as he spoke about overcoming addiction—and his parents spoke about almost losing their son.

“As journalists, we could not believe how ignorant we were toward addiction as a disease,” Judith said. The Moyers family hopes that their choice to speak openly about their struggles—last night’s event was only their third time doing so—will encourage others to do the same.

Judith recalled a time when it was taboo to say the word “cancer.” Next, people were afraid to talk about HIV/AIDS. “Now addiction is in that same category,” she said.

Bill called his family’s invitation from the Center for Students in Recovery to speak on the Forty Acres a testament to the courage of young people. “We’re in the dawn of a new era of honesty about a disease that is a serious affliction across the country,” he said.

The UT Board of Regents voted last fall to expand the Center for Students in Recovery’s programming to all UT System schools, and last week the Center moved to a new space in Bellmont Hall.

Bill said that he struggled with the denial and stigma associated with his son’s addiction. He compared the difficult task of talking about addiction to returning World War II veterans who kept quiet about their wartime experiences. “It’s hard to find the words to describe the reality of that painful experience,” he said.

All three Moyers stressed the importance of community. “The recovery community may be one of the most important communities in America,” he said. “Every father who has experienced a son dealing with addiction is the same but also very different. That’s a paradox that is only reconciled by telling our stories.”

Despite the serious subject matter, the Moyers’ dynamic speaking style kept the conversation lighthearted. William also praised the UT community and the Center for Students in Recovery for its commitment to helping students.

“What’s so great about what’s happening here at UT is that young people are not only coming to terms with their illness, but they’re recovering,” William said. “This [the CSR] is the exception rather than the rule, and we need more of these programs around the country.”

Ultimately, the Moyers encourage people affected by addiction to understand that they’re not alone and that there is hope.

“Addiction is a disease of isolation,” William said. “And the antidote to it is what’s happening in this room right now.”

Photo by Lauren Gerson.


Tags: , , , , ,



Post a Comment