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Bangor citizens respond to call for addiction help ideas
In spite of the fact that drugs are tearing at the fabric of our communities like never before, it’s unusual when ordinary citizens take part in a public campaign to offer positive, helpful ideas to deal with it.
In fact, we usually hear a lot of negativity, blame and finger-pointing rather than suggestions that might actually do some good.
So we were delighted recently when the good citizens of Bangor, Maine and surrounding communities came forward with their own ideas about how those suffering addiction might be better served.
It all started when the Bangor Daily News posted a terrifically inspiring video of interviews with local people who have overcome their addictions.
“Over the following week or so,” reporter Erin Rhoda said, “we were inundated with responses from viewers. In total, more than 50 people wanted to tell us how they think Maine can better help those experiencing addiction. They also shared how addiction has touched their lives.”
The video that triggered the exchange was far from typical in the news media of most cities today. We’re usually exposed to tirades from angry citizens or scary lectures from politicians, which seldom lead to anything positive.
Here are a few quotes from Ms. Rhoda’s remarkable story about the touching responses from local readers:
- Addiction “brought me to my knees,” one person wrote to us.
- When one woman’s son started drinking, she said, “The chaos, havoc, fear, sadness and anguish it brought to our family was so heart wrenching; to see him suffer was almost more than we could take.”
- Another woman described how the hardest task, once she got sober, was learning to love herself again.
- We heard from someone whose relative became addicted to heroin, lost medical coverage, became homeless and lost her children. “We don’t know from day to day if she is even alive,” this person wrote.
- Another person gave the view from the other side: “[Addiction] about killed me and made my whole family sick as well. The not knowing if I was still alive crushed them.”
- One person wrote that addiction is “everywhere I go, whether I see it or not.”
- Many people gave us hope. One wrote, “If I can change, anyone can, with determination and support. They have to want it, though. No one can want it for them.”
- Another wrote, “Thankfully, after a long process of trial and error, my son found the help he needed. He has now completed his college degree and is working in his field.”
The paper asked readers to suggest ways that Maine can improve its help for those suffering from addiction. Most answers were concerned with better access to health care and long-term treatment facilities, and the need for expanded educational programs to “reduce the stigma that makes it so difficult for someone to seek help,” Ms. Rhoda wrote.
Here is a sampling of the responses from the public published in the Bangor Daily News:
- Continue to educate the community about addiction and what it does to a person. Stop blaming the person.
- It is such a multifaceted issue, and you need multiple strategies to address it. We need to lift people up, which could be as simple as listening or doing healthy activities, but it needs to be addressed as a community.
- Spreading knowledge and information about the disease of addiction and its impacts on not just the people around the addict/alcoholic but the person suffering firsthand.
- Be open minded.
- A concerted effort is needed to de-stigmatize drug addiction. Employers need to be encouraged to give people a shot at employment despite a past criminal record that was related to their addiction.
- Be more understanding, become better educated about addiction, so there aren’t so many judgments.
- We need more support groups available at all hours.
- Educate people to lock up all medications, including over-the-counter medications and medical marijuana. The state should have a media campaign about this. Keep drugs out of the reach of others.
- Treat people as sick, not as criminals.
- Know it is only to be expected that humans will experience some backsliding along the road to freedom from street drugs, just as they do when quitting cigarettes, alcohol or fattening foods.
- Know there is life after addiction, that the user you see on the street can overcome the addiction and be an asset to society.
- Know that, sometimes, just because a doctor gives pills doesn’t mean they are safer.
- Stop the war on people who are abusing drugs.
- More help paying for detox and rehabilitation services.
- There are a lot of things that can affect those suffering from addiction. The main question is: Are we willing to spend the money to create feasible rehabilitation programs and facilities to help those who are addicted?
- Financial support for longer term rehabs. For anyone not on MaineCare, these rehabs are not possible. No one can miss months of work and still have a job. Yet these safe environments — where people can focus only on getting clean — are very much needed at the beginning of recovery. It is not easy or fun to give up the drug of choice. It’s unimaginable at first. Try doing it working full time. Some can, but most will fail.
- Courts should try and force rehab or treatment as often as possible for drug-related crimes, at least those that are non-violent. Sometimes your first glimpse of recovery needs to be forced. But attend enough meetings, forced or otherwise, and it will stick with you.
- Open up more long-term rehabs that don’t have replacement therapy as their protocol.
- Provide real therapy and counseling along with methadone treatment. The methadone clinics aren’t doing enough of it.
- Provide more rehabs that connect with each other and help lessen the gap between hitting bottom and getting help.
- Make treatment more widely available and accessible, especially to those without insurance. Provide prevention and education services at a very young age, through schools and the community, and educate parents, not just kids.
Novus Medical Detox Clinic is a firm supporter of any public efforts to de-stigmatize substance dependence and addiction. We congratulate the Bangor Daily News. And we encourage anyone suffering from a problem with drugs or alcohol to call us any time to get their questions answered about detox and drug treatment. We’re always here to help.
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