Wednesday, September 30, 2020

National Stage, Local Story

Addiction took the national stage last night. It’s an important issue and needs to be addressed. But that was not what happened. Instead it arrived as a mocking barb from one candidate about the other’s child. In response, Joe Biden had this to say:

My son, like a lot of people, like a lot of people you know at home, had a drug problem. He's overtaken it. He's fixed it. He's worked on it, and I'm proud of him.

We don’t always like to talk about things we perceive to be personal weaknesses in Howard County. We like to be “world class”. Parents whose children struggle with addiction often feel shame as they live through the ongoing pain of trying to get help. There’s so much stigma. We all think we should be above average. We see so many preconceived notions of “what kind of people” have drug and alcohol problems. That can’t be us, we think. What would people say if they knew?

And so, that moment of outright ridicule by a nation's president must have hurt a lot of hearts around town last night. 

In Howard County there have been some very good people in recent years advocating for better local supports for people in addiction. Parents have created social media supports for other parents. The push for more local residential treatment beds is ongoing. 

From an article in the Baltimore Sun about a drop in opiod-related deaths:

This past May, Ball opened Howard House, the first county-owned treatment facility for individuals on the road to recovery. Grassroots Crisis Intervention, a nonprofit organization in Columbia, opened the New Beginnings Crisis Stabilization Center in December to prevent delays in treatment for those in need of referrals for substance-use disorder treatment. (Ana Faguy, Baltimore Sun)

Howard County has a sign that regularly notes fatal and non-fatal overdoses. It wasn’t always there. People had to advocate for getting that information out there. It’s meant to educate. To me it bears witness to a communty willing to face something painful and ugly rather than sweep it under the rug. 

Howard County Government has a page loaded with resources. If you or someone you know were in distress it might be hard to navigate so much information. It looks as though Grassroots might be a good first call?

Grassroots 24/7 Crisis Assistance - 410-531-6677 (local) or 2-1-1(statewide)
Resources and Referrals - 410-313-6202

It always helps to feel as though you know someone when you embark upon something scary and unknown. I’m going to recommend to you local advocate Debbie Nix. I’ve been following her local efforts for some time now. If you need someone to point you in the right direction or even to be supportive listening ear, reach out to her through the Addiction Support in Howard County Facebook Page. 

From a recent post about the process of recovery, Ms. Nix writes:

It works if you work it! Any way you participate in recovery, I am proud of you and want you to know that you are loved, your life matters and you bring light into this life. If it's one day or 30 years or more, recovery happens moment by moment. Be brave and keep on keeping on. You are not alone!

Local stories of addiction and recovery are happening every day in Columbia/Howard County. They are every bit as much a part of our story as a community as land use, business profit and loss, school curriculum, environmental initiatives, traffic studies, because each human being affected is also a working piece of all of those other stories. 

Being ashamed doesn’t change that. Mocking people who suffer brings no lasting improvement.

I’m hoping that, at least here in Howard County, support for those facing addiction isn’t up for debate.

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