The Global Search for Education: Dr. Margaret Dowell on Addiction and the Role of the Family
This month on the Planet Classroom Network, audiences can screen Dr. Margaret Dowell’s Addiction: The Impact on Family, Episode 2 in the Addiction and Art series. The series is hosted by Margaret Dowell, the award winning artist and art educator who has taught in both US public schools and higher education, most recently for the College of Southern Maryland. In 2010, Dowell co-edited the book, Addiction and Art (Johns Hopkins University Press), which received much attention including a Highly Commended Award (Psychiatry Category) from the British Medical Association.
The Global Search for Education is pleased to welcome Dr. Margaret Dowell.
What was your overarching goal for creating Addiction: The Impact on Family? Are you speaking to drug users, their families, ex-drug users, or people entirely removed from them?
As I created this video especially for the Planet Classroom Network, I am of course primarily addressing young people. But certainly the information would be relevant for anyone willing to listen. In the video, I talk about generational addiction. That information, that knowledge could certainly help the young with decision making, with prevention. I also address the pain, the grave impact that addiction can have on the family unit. It is important for all family members, including those in the throes of addiction, to understand that they do not have to be alone — compassion and support from a variety of others can go a long, long way.
Your setting for filming Addiction: The Impact on Family is an old schoolhouse, rather than a traditional classroom. What influenced this creative choice for your video series?
We have been shooting the Addiction and Art videos in an old one room schoolhouse. More than 150 years ago, students huddled around a woodstove in this building learning the simple basics of reading and writing. Although education about substance abuse has been around for many decades, it’s staggering to know that last year more people died of overdoses in the United States than in any other year in our history. So it seems that focusing on the basics in this building, once again, is more than appropriate.
Your video features 3 powerful artworks: Inheritance and Consequences by Kevin Grass, and Family by you. How do you think these 3 artworks speak to your audience?
What I love about the viewing process of art is that communication happens when the viewer’s history meets the history of the artist. That’s why responses to a work of art can vary so much — which can be the case with these works. What we now know is that addiction is a family disease, and it is widespread. We all know of at least one family or more impacted to some degree. The artworks selected for this video illustrate pain experienced. That’s it. No judgment. Just artists depicting what they understand — what is in their history.
What are your top recommendations for families struggling to deal with an addiction problem?
There is no one size that fits all for families, as addictions vary, people vary, and family dynamics vary. But, within any family unit, it’s important to own up to what is happening. Unfortunately, there are stigmas to confront, and there are nasty things out there like judgment, fear and shame that often impede owning up. It can all be overwhelming. But if a family can own up, and can focus on the likes of compassion, support and treatment, versus condemnation and rejection, miracles can happen.
C.M. Rubin and Margaret Dowell
Don’t Miss on the Planet Classroom Network Dr. Margaret Dowell’s Addition: The Impact on Family.