Winning the battle against addiction
The headline over commentator Monica Scott’s inspiring account of her triumph over addiction was exactly on point (“Success stories help others overcome substance use disorders,” Sept. 13).
As someone in long-term recovery, I’ve been on the giving and receiving end of such compelling stories at 12-step meetings and in outpatient settings.
These real-life stories offer hope, often in circumstances where hope seems distant or impossible.
The value of these stories extends well beyond their healing impact on individuals. Such success stories also can form the basis for systemic improvements in public policy that could help millions of Americans.
Elected officials and policymakers can work more closely with front-line health care providers, researchers and other experts to identify what works for people in treatment and recovery. They also can verify which prevention programs are most effective in teaching children, youth and vulnerable adults to avoid substance abuse and its dangers.
Much of this work already is underway, yet many among the public and among decision-makers are unfamiliar with stories like Ms. Scott’s.
Moreover, the misplaced stigma of addiction as a moral failing or character weakness deters many people from understanding the neurological aspects of addiction. These drugs hijack the users’ brains, first impairing and then overwhelming their ability to act rationally.
Congress is on the verge of making significant advances in reducing opioid addiction and other substance abuse disorders. Yet the recently enacted Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act did not include any funding.
The House and Senate appropriations committees have a pending proposal for $570 million to fund treatment beds, prevention programs, services for vulnerable populations like veterans and pregnant moms and their substance-exposed babies, along with training programs for doctors and other health care providers.
For every Monica Scott who has turned her life around and is now helping others, there are dozens of people across Maryland each week who are one shot, one snort, one ingestion away from death. These overdose fatalities destroy families. Congress must act now.