Addiction is one of those issues that we often find easy to ignore until it touches us personally. Unfortunately, it hits home for almost everyone eventually. On the bright side, those who’ve struggled with substance abuse themselves or walked that road with a family member or loved one are often inspired to use their experience to help inspire others.
Some are doing that through events like UNITE to Face Addiction, a national gathering set to take place in Washington, DC on October 4, 2015. Their goal is “to build a movement to address one of the most pressing health issues of our time by gathering more than 600 organizations from around the world in a show of solidarity and collective force.” And because addiction has always been a problem in the entertainment industry, it seems only fitting that the event will celebrate sobriety by featuring live musical performances from Joe Walsh, Steven Tyler, Sheryl Crow, Jason Isbell, The Fray, John Rzeznik and more. (Find out more at facingaddiction.org.)
It’s just one way that treatment and recovery advocates are working together to help the 22 million Americans with addiction by standing up for the 23 million more in recovery. It’s a positive response to the tragic statistic that 350 lives are lost each day to addiction.
Other events, like Heroes In Recovery’s 6K races, take place across the country throughout the year, drawing attention to those everyday heroes who are working everyday to maintain their sobriety. The grassroots organization also providing support via an online network and the sharing of personal stories. (For more info on upcoming races or to join the movement, go to heroesinrecovery.com.)
Even the U.S. Department of Education is getting into the act, including the topics of addiction and recovery in their Education Policy Briefing Series this fall. And organizations like Partnership for Drug-free Kids are urging the US to change the way to talk about – and treat – addiction. Under their drugfree.org umbrella, this group that began as anti-drug advertising campaign is carefully watching the upcoming election and tracking how presidential candidates are talking about the topic of addiction.
Hillary Clinton called heroin and prescription opiate abuse a “quiet epidemic” before announcing a $10 billion plan to address drug addiction and curb incarceration for nonviolent drug offenders. On the road to the White House, other presidential hopefuls have expressed their views on addiction and the proactive steps they have taken to act on this public health crisis too. Governors Chris Christie and John Kasich are re-igniting a national conversation that drugfree.org believes can lead to real change in the way we treat substance use disorders in America.
In the U.S. alone, 85 million people have been impacted by addiction, including Republican hopefuls Jeb Bush, Ted Cruz and Carly Fiorina, drugfree.org reports. These well-known public figures have spoken openly about their loved one’s addiction and how their families have been directly affected by this preventable disease.
This kind of public attention can only help the cause. While addiction is a disease just like cancer or diabetes, many who battle addiction feel they must suffer in secrecy. What sort of reaction they will get if they disclose their condition? Will it hurt their career? Relationships? Friendships? Despite all our advanced knowledge, there is still a stigma that exists around mental illness, with friends, family and employers often misinformed and unsure how to react. But the more substance abuse is addressed publically and those who are in recovery share their stories, the more hopeful it is for everyone involved.
Profiles on CNN.com, as part of their Turning Points series, also makes an impact as it showcases individuals who have faced dramatic turning points in their lives. One recent profile highlighted a father who lost his teenage son to drug abuse. Despite attending a treatment program and actively participating in a 12-step program, the 16-year-old began inhaling computer-dusting spray, a toxin that didn’t show up on drug screens. When he and his friends heard that inhaling the spray while underwater intensified the rush, the results were deadly.
That tragedy led to another one when the late teen’s father began taking prescription medication to help him cope with his grief. Addiction ran in the family and the college administrator began drinking in excess too. Paired with Xanax, the dangerous mix led to an incoherent blackout that had his family insisting he get help.
This hurting dad went from addiction to advocacy and began to share his story. He and his wife have since devoted their lives to helping other families, advocating for more evidence-based treatment and more training and support for other parents, CNN reports. In 2006, they started a private foundation called the 24 Group, which awards small grants to addiction and treatment recovery providers in central Indiana.
Often, it only takes a small act to inspire others. Just being brave enough to speak up or reach out to someone else who is struggling can be enough. If you or a loved one is battling an addiction and a co-occurring disorder, call us today. We’re available 24 hours a day, seven days a week and can provide information on treatment programs, help with insurance and answer questions about the treatment process.
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