Hilda’s Place. Have you heard of it? From their website:
OUR MISSION IS TO PROVIDE THE TOOLS OF RECOVERY TO THOSE WHO HAVE BEEN AFFECTED BY THE DISEASE OF ADDICTION. WE OFFER AN EVIDENCE-BASED TREATMENT MODEL IN CONJUNCTION WITH OTHER COMPLEMENTARY THERAPIES THAT HELP OUR CLIENTS LEARN WAYS TO LIVE DRUG AND ALCOHOL-FREE LIVES AS THEY BUILD RESILIENCY.
I think most of us are aware of how underserved Howard County is when it comes to helping residents who struggle with addiction. The County Executive is working to make the opioid crisis a priority in his administration. Community Advocate Laurie Lundy has been pushing to change local attitudes about addiction and the need for local treatment facilities for years now.
So the news that Howard County has a (relatively) new choice for addiction treatment should be good news. Right?
Maybe not if it’s in a shopping center in Glenwood. (Cooksville, technically)
Some folks are up in arms that a drug treatment facility could be in their neighborhood. They fear for the safety of local school children who frequent the shopping center. They recoil from the “criminal element” that, in their view, a drug treatment facility most certainly entails. Why, they wonder, would you put a drug treatment center in our neck of the woods?
Because that’s where the need is?
Addiction touches people from every part of society, in every neighborhood. It is all too easy to think of those with drug problems as “other”. They are thugs, criminals, dangerous, low-lifes. We look the other way to avoid acknowledging that they are also our neighbors, friends, and family members. Some of them just might live in Western Howard County.
Councilman David Yungmann has been working with the community and the owner of Hilda’s Place. He facilitated a meeting where folks could have their say, and also learn more about the real workings of the treatment program. From what I can see on social media, Councilman Yungmann is working very hard to balance the rights of both the neighbors and the treatment facility. The language he uses avoids fanning flames of fear yet attempts to acknowledge neighborhood concerns. All of this makes me wonder if we in Howard County need to look at our attitudes about addiction. Saying that there’s a crisis is just one step. Where are we when it comes to supporting treatment? Does it depend on who we think the clients will be? Do we advocate for people getting help as long as it’s not in our neighborhood? There’s plenty of racism and classism and fear of the bogeyman all wrapped up in public attitudes on this topic. I raise the issue of Hilda’s Place not to mock or accuse the residents there but to point out the issues involved. It might be easy to judge them, but, would we be any better?