In August of 2007 a bright and talented young man left his home in Columbia to pursue his musical dreams at a college in New Jersey. By October he was dead: a heroin overdose. He was among the best and brightest that Columbia has to offer. I'm not going to dive into the particulars out of respect to his family. But I thought of him yesterday when he turned up in my Facebook memories and that got me thinking about the recent push in Howard County to address the opiate addiction crisis.
Alcohol and substance abuse happen in Howard County. It's easy to ignore if it doesn't touch you. Recently Laurie Lundy, a parent in Howard County, has taken to social media to get people thinking and talking about addiction. Ms. Lundy suggests that Howard County needs its own treatment facility for addiction. She has shared her dream of what it might be like.
Howard County should build a State of the Art Treatment and Recovery Center, next door to a Recreational Facility for addicts in recovery.
First it should be built on 20 acres of land with woods, a stocked pond, a jogging trail, and a barn for horses and equine therapy.The in-patient center will house between 40-50 clients. No more than 2 people to a room, each room has a bathroom. It will be co-ed. There will be offices, each with a window, for counseling, a meeting room for visitors, a kitchen where only healthy food is prepared, a dining room, and a family room with lots of couches, books, games, and a TV. There will be at least 2 dogs living there that the clients take care of.
Then there is a separate recreational center for in-patient, out-patient and recovering addicts living in our community. The rec center will have an outside half court basketball court, a gazebo with bird feeders, a space for gardening, and hammocks. Inside will have a gym, a large room for yoga, and meetings, a cafe with tables, couches, and music, and a separate room with a pool table. Everyone at these facilities, should be treated with respect, compassion, and dignity.
The responses to her ideas have been mixed. She has gotten quite a bit of pushback, along the lines of, "Why should people be rewarded for bad behavior?"
We need to get serious about education initiatives to prevent future addiction. But we also need to educate the public about what addiction means, how it wrecks lives, how it can happen to anyone--even "nice" people. The editorial cartoon on this subject depicts a car meeting up with the Grim Reaper on Route 40. While there's nothing inaccurate about that, it reinforces that view that drugs are happening far from our suburban neighborhoods and schools.
That's just not true. And it makes us feel more comfortable. We don't have to think about it.
It's interesting to note that at this recent opiate addiction summit, the Howard County Schools were not represented. They didn't send anyone. HC DrugFree is hoping that there will be more collaboration in the future.
So am I.
Laurie Lundy has also started her own Facebook Group, Addiction Support in Howard County.