Substance use disorder robs many of the lives that they deserve to live, leaving families distraught and looking for answers. Addiction today is seen as a moral failing rather than a disease and the stigma surrounding it makes it hard for some to get help. The issue needs to be shifted from a criminal justice issue to be seen as more of a public health issue.
“Substance use disorder is not a moral failing,” Sean Rodgers, lead outreach coordinator at Humble Beginnings Recovery Center, said. “It’s an actual disease and it needs to be treated properly and we need to let people know that it’s okay to ask for help and say ‘look, I might have a problem here’ or ‘look, I might need to take a look at this.’”
Children need to be educated and programs need to be brought into schools. If youth can be educated before they come in contact with the dangers that addiction brings, then the problem can be stopped in its tracks.
“If parents are still afraid to talk, their kids are sitting in bed at 10 o’clock at night when they’re supposed to be sleeping googling answers to their questions, because they do have questions,” interventionist Pat Brown said. “And if mom and dad aren’t willing to talk, then they’re going to find answers.”
Treatment options are available for those in need, but how many are truly getting the help that they need in order to get, and stay, sober?
“I’m in the drug and alcohol field, and when you shake the leaves off of the tree, the core to all of the other addictions and disorders, it is all born out of the same place,” Brown said. “It all comes out of the same dirt.”
So, what are we going to do to help?
“Doing the digging and looking at this, the guilt, the shame, the trauma, drives so much of this, but if we’re talking about it, we can find solutions,” Brown said. “But, if we’re afraid to talk about it, we’ve got no hope.”
Written by: Jill Nawoyski