I have been sharing some of the events I’ve attended recently regarding the opioid epidemic plaguing our county. I’m excited to share a couple of positive, hope-bringing experiences, too.
Awhile back it was my privilege and honor to have been invited to a graduation from Marco Manor by a person on whose case I’d previously worked. Having seen this person struggle mightily with addiction, it was tremendously powerful to witness the graduation from treatment and celebration of sobriety. Three points were clear to me: (1) while finding help is difficult, truly accepting it is more difficult, (2) it takes a web of support to get and stay sober, and (3) people really do remember how they are made to feel by people in the system. I honestly had no idea at the time that I had even registered with this person, so to learn that I’d gone from adversary to ally simply by doing my job the only way I know how validated my belief that how we treat people truly matters. It was deeply humbling to hear that I’d been some small unknowing help on this person’s journey, and an honor to be part of the web of support. The struggle for sobriety will always continue, but I’m hopeful it will get easier with time and that this person will continue to succeed.
I was also able to attend a session of Manitowoc’s new drug court, and it was powerful. I was struck by the number of people on the team there supporting the participants, how many family members of participants were in attendance, and how individualized the program is for each participant. It was invigorating to see this program in action, and I was lucky enough to attend on a day when we were able to celebrate clean and sober weeks across the board.
The problem is enormous, but for so long it has felt as though there was no hope. There is hope, though, in these examples. These six people are but the tip of the iceberg, but these six people also represent our current best chances at a systemic response to the crisis. My takeaway from this is how important it is to recognize the humanity behind the addiction. The best programs work individually to coax the person back to existence, necessarily loosening the drugs’ evil grip in the process. In this way we can start to loosen the drugs’ evil grip on the community. The people involved matter, on all sides.