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WHY WE SHOULD LOOK AT DRUG ADDICTION AND THE OPIOID EPIDEMIC DIFFERENTLY

Everybody deserves second chances

I founded a drug and alcohol treatment center five years ago and have witnessed, first-hand, the sheer destruction drug addiction and the opioid epidemic have had on our American community.

Every day, I worked with addicts, their families, their loved ones and people in recovery. I have heard stories of hitting rock bottom and shared tears as some died of opiate overdoses.

I have spoken with parents about their heartbreaking, but necessary, decisions to stop enabling their kids and just walk away. I have also heard inspirational stories of the climb back toward recovery and a clean and sober life.

My day-to-day work in the substance abuse field changed the way I look at drug addiction and the opioid epidemic. I hope other people will shift their views and the narrative regarding addiction.

Based on my experiences, I created Addiction Unplugged; a new television series that humanizes (not glorifies) drug addiction and the opioid epidemic.

Our mission is simple: show the human side of drug addiction so people can connect with real people, real human emotions and real stories, both tragic and inspirational, so the American community can change the conversation and, perhaps; change the stigma regarding drug addiction and mental skills.

According to the U.S Surgeon General in a 2016 report, approximately only 10 percent of people with a substance use disorder receive any type of specialty treatment, in part because of this stigma in our society.

So why doesn’t the media cover the opioid epidemic in a manner commensurate with events that, in 2016, killed roughly 65,000 people in the U.S. and even more in 2017?

Think about it – these “events” resulted in more U.S. deaths than gun violence or car accidents.

Drug addiction and the opioid epidemic in the U.S. are two major societal issues that are, in my opinion, under-reported in comparison to the sheer number of deaths and severity of the problem that “we” are facing.

65,000 deaths IN ONE YEAR are more than our rational minds can fathom. Every one of these overdose deaths was someone’s son or daughter, brother or sister.

People, understandably, cannot “connect” with these statistics versus the human stories of addiction in EVERY neighborhood across the U.S. and the daily life and death struggle for addicts.

We can all relate to the awful and senseless tragedy of the Parkland school shooting because we can relate to the students and staff that died and to the survivors.

Perhaps the “old school” overriding sentiment of our society is that drug addicts “did it to themselves” and are “getting what they deserve” is still alive.

Drug addiction is a very complicated issue and to “solve” opiate abuse, we must delve deeply into sensitive societal foundations like parenting, family structure and mental health. As a society, I don’t think we are prepared to shake up our foundation and self-examine the dysfunction in everyone’s family.

The opioid epidemic is NOT a crisis that has a beginning, middle and ending that works the news cycle. This is a long-term problem and will require a long-term solution.

As the survivors of the Parkland community are proving to us: a resilient and passionate community can move mountains and arrive at a place where solutions are possible!

Addiction Unplugged is our platform to connect people, humanize drug addiction, show people they should care and, as a community, change the trajectory of this crisis.

Get involved. Give second chances. Be part of the solution!

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