Filtering by Tag: recovery
You’d be amazed if you only knew how many ideas and different thoughts that I’ve had about what to write for this first entry yet it literally has taken me months to finally sit down and just do it! In the back of my mind there was something stopping me and for what has felt like forever, I hadn’t quite been able to put my finger on it. Today, I realized what that ‘something’ has been… fear.
For the longest time, I’ve been concerned about whether what I write will be considered good enough, enjoyable to the audience, if it will be criticized or mocked, and more. There are so many things that run through your head when fear is driving the way you think and how you react. This is relative to so many things in life and something huge when it comes to addiction medicine, seeking treatment and the recovery process in general.
According to the Office of National Drug Control, 20.8 million people in the United States suffer from some form of a substance use disorder yet 89% remain untreated. Only 11% of Americans are receiving treatment. Not only is it a fact that the number of deaths per year due to drug overdoses is higher than those caused by motor vehicle accidents, but the scale of this problem has escalated to a level that cannot be ignored.
We see the shocking facts; we know about the ‘opioid epidemic’. At the same time, our culture is to blame for the stigmas that exist and are placed on those who need our help. Nevertheless, cultural stigma remains to be the number one reason why individuals who need treatment do not seek such. This too must change.
As a community, we must be responsible and help eliminate the obstacle of fear. With this eliminated for ourselves and others, individuals suffering from addiction can find recovery from a chronic disease that is not only treatable but most importantly, curable.
So, what exactly does this mean you may be wondering?
A good place to start is by understanding the power of language. As a matter of fact, considering even the White House has taken the initiative - which you can see via the Office of National Drug Control Policy’s Memorandum (released 1/9/17) entitled “Changing the Language of Addiction” - the way we speak truly impacts people and this really can have a positive or negative effect on others. A word that was flippantly used in the past may no longer be acceptable. To truly affect a change, it is important to heed the advice and findings provided to us. For example, it is being (and already has been) shown via countless case studies that using the words “addict” or “abuser” has negative connotations.
The ONDCP has stressed the import of using “person-first language”, eliminating saying things such as “drug abuser”. The previous example (in which the term “drug abuser” is used for demonstrative purposes) is one instance that shows how labels, categorizations and the power of language cause an unsurmountable amount of fear, guilt, shame and perpetuate the very stigma this country is looking to be rid of.
The First Amendment grants us all Freedom of Speech so let’s make sure to use it in a way that also empowers not just strangers but individuals who might be a best friend, a spouse, a parent, etc. Regardless, we should work together to encourage him or her to feel good about seeking addiction treatment and furthering the recovery process. If anything, this is something to always be commended for rather than shamed or scrutinized.
Last thing I want to add is feedback is always welcome. We would love to hear from you, especially your thoughts and please know that your name will never be shared unless you want it to be. Whether or not you have a topic you think should be discussed, questions to pose to the physician, etc. please reach out. Not only is there the comment section below - where you can add feedback with or without your name - but under the "Contact Us" tab you can also reach out with questions and more if you feel more comfortable via this avenue.
-Devan Mackenzie, Clinical Coordinator at RRH