A Philly mom’s message for families dealing with addiction during the holidays

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It’s been too long since Muriel Alston enjoyed a festive, joyful holiday season with her family.

“This time of year is difficult,” she said.

The Philadelphia resident spends her time working as a life coach and minister with Victory Outreach Ministries in West Philadelphia.

In recent weeks, her daughter — who has struggled with substance use disorder since 2007 — was released from a 10-month stint in jail.

“She is sober at the moment, but she’s only been sober for a few days,” Alston said.

The cycle of opioid use and periods of sobriety has been going on for nearly a decade. And as the addiction deepened, it made Muriel’s daughter increasingly estranged from the family.

“The last Christmas that I spent with my daughter was probably 10 years ago,” she said. “The holiday itself is one of love and it’s one of family, and when you have that one person that is missing from the gatherings, from dinner, from the gift exchange, it leaves a hole.”

She says there is also a constant sense of anxiety and stress knowing that the next time her daughter uses drugs might be her last.

“You have all of these things plaguing your mind at the same time around Christmas,” she said. “You’re trying to celebrate while your heart is broken all at the same time.”

  • December 25, 2023
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