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WhatFriendsDo: Kitchen Chats

Mar 30, 2023

Aimee sits down with Dawn McCord, author of “Chasing Carson: A Family’s Journey through Adolescence, Addiction and Recovery.” Dawn’s son Carson struggled with addiction during his high school years, ultimately leading to a drug overdose. On the episode, Dawn speaks candidly about the shame and stigma that often accompany addiction. She also shares how her friends offered support by just showing up when she needed it most, and how she’s helping other families in a similar situation not feel so alone.

Episode Highlights

Addiction comes with stigma.

Although many people know somebody with a diagnosed or undiagnosed substance use disorder, such as alcoholism, addiction is not something many people openly talk about. Dawn says this is partly because our society doesn’t do enough education about addiction as a disease.

“Our schools, our homes are not educated enough on the disease of addiction that we already have this form of bias that it’s something they can control or something the parents can control,” she said. “They didn’t choose to become addicted. It can happen to anyone.”

Shame can make it hard to ask for help.

The social stigma surrounding addiction often comes with feelings of shame for families with a member with a substance use disorder. This fear of being judged can make it hard for them to ask for help when they need it.

“Oh my gosh it’s so hard, and pride gets in the way,” Dawn said. “We all think it’s not going to happen to our kid. I was a Sunday school teacher. I was his youth leader. We went on mission trips.”

Just reach out.

Because of the shame and stigma, families may not know how to reach out for help when a family member is struggling with substance use and addiction. The best thing that Dawn’s friends did for her was to let her know they were thinking about their family and just show up at crucial times without being asked.

“You don’t want to ask for help,” Dawn said. “You don’t want anybody to see your kid like this. But when people do just show up, they’re just saying to you, ‘We don’t care. We’re here for you. We love him. We love you.’”

Addiction affects families.

For every person with substance use disorder, there are about 8-10 other people affected, and the disease can affect everybody's confidence levels. When Dawn’s son struggled with addiction, his confidence level was “belly crawling” and hers wasn’t much higher.

“Whether it’s your child or your spouse, you’re struggling with your confidence level because you can’t fix them,” she said. “You can’t. You’re helpless. You try, and they’re trying.”

Addiction goes together with mental health.

Addiction disorders often have links to mental health. Even before Dawn’s son started experimenting with drugs, he noticed a change in his thinking that affected his self-confidence. Also, genetics appears to play a role in addiction. In Dawn’s case, both of her son’s grandfathers abused alcohol.

“I bet all of us have known somebody that’s in our family or close friend that struggles with substance use disorder, whether it’s diagnosed or not,” Dawn said.

Resources + Links

About Aimee and WhatFriendsDo

Aimee Kandrac is a speaker, consultant, and the co-founder and CEO of WhatFriendsDo. Her work is instrumental for organizing support during life-changing events, and she speaks to organizations about creative ways to help friends and family during times of crisis. Aimee has been recognized as a Top 50 Mompreneur by and is the first female CEO in the state of Indiana to close a $500,000 funding round. She has been featured in Forbes, Time, the LA Times,, the Indianapolis Star, and more.

WhatFriendsDo is a simpler way to create organized and actionable support during a time of crisis. The free, online platform empowers healthcare facilities, HR departments, families, and friends to easily coordinate meals, errands, transportation, childcare, communication, and more for those in the midst of a life-changing event. The women-founded and women-led company started as a solution for a friend with terminal cancer. WhatFriendsDo is based out of Indianapolis.