Letter: Work together to address local, national epidemic By Beth Brantner from Moorhead Today at 4:36 a.m.
This letter appeared in The Forum on 3/27/2015
Recently, there have been stories in The Forum depicting the pain watching a loved one destroyed by addiction. We are let into the ache that families experience as they love and try to help their family member.
Recent statistics indicate that one out of 10 people struggles with addiction. Then for every person who is addicted, 15 to 18 people are significantly affected. Two-thirds of the families in our country have been affected by addiction. The numbers are staggering. According to NIDA (National Institute of Drug Abuse http://www.drugabuse.gov/related-topics/trends-statistics), drug and alcohol addictions cost the country $417 billion each year. Nicotine costs would add another $295 billion to the tab.
I think the emotional costs of addiction are even higher. There is no question, alcohol and drugs are a huge problem in the Red River Valley. Addiction is seen in the young, the old, and all ages in between. The confusion, pain and dismay experienced by those who love the addicted can be deeper than can be described in a few words.
What is often not realized is the chemically dependent person also tends to suffer from an inordinate amount of guilt and shame; although they don’t tend to show it. For most suffering from addiction, there is often a diagnosable mental illness that needs to be addressed at the same time. So what can be done? Recovery is possible, but like most endeavors that are worthwhile, the path is not necessarily easy.
Addiction is a chronic complicated brain disease; it deserves to be treated and supported by a team of knowledgeable and skilled people. There are a variety of groups in our community that can provide support to the chemically dependent person as well as those who love him/her. We are fortunate to have quality professionals who can provide education and therapy for all involved.
What can others do to help address this national (and local) epidemic? Learn what you can, be informed, do not judge, be supportive and help break down the stigma surrounding addiction. Support those working at getting into recovery. Learn good ways of helping. Find compassion.
Recently, one young lady came to Lost and Found Ministry, and said it is one place where she could come and not feel judged; she had eight months of clean time.
We need to have other places where she can go and feel safe. Remember, this is a chronic, life-threatening disease. No one raises their hand to the universe saying, “take me, I want to be chemically dependent.” Let’s work together to help people get well and stay well from the disease of addiction.
Brantner, Moorhead, is a licensed professional clinical counselor with Lost and Found Ministry and reGROUP: Peer Advocates for Addiction Recovery.