Aspire is actively participating in a project with Ball State University entitled, “Facing Addiction”. The objective of the partnership is to strengthen communities through the stories of people. What stories would the people who face addiction every day have to tell? I think they will say that they feel shame and guilt and stuck with their addiction. I think they will say that there are not enough resources for them and that they are tired of feeling sick and tired. I think they will say they are terrified and angry and sometimes feel hopeless. As treatment providers, we hear their stories and their pain. Our clients often hear the voice of their addiction that tells them that they will never be free of their addiction.
The truth is that today, there are not enough treatment providers or facilities to take care of all the people who need care. Incarcerating people who are addicted without treatment doesn’t help them recover. It doesn’t help to shame people about why they started in the first place. Nobody ever wakes up one day and thinks, “I want to be an addict.”
Addiction does not discriminate and neither should access to recovery. There remains a very large gap between people who have the ability to access treatment and those who do not. At Aspire we join others in advocating for people who need treatment versus incarceration and we invest in recovery supports, like medication assisted treatment to help people get back on their feet, get back to work, and support themselves and their families. We come alongside our criminal justice partners to educate and work with them so that there is a mutual understanding about what trauma does to a person’s spirit. People who are not able to abstain from drugs frequently have a history of trauma, whether that trauma is physical, verbal, sexual or emotional. We want to help without judging because many treatment providers have traveled on the same road, albeit years ago, and know that, but “for the grace of our Higher Power” we may not have lived long, useful and happy lives.
My hope for the Facing Addiction project in which we are participating, is that we continue to chip away and finally eliminate the shame and stigma that prevents people from coming to treatment. I think we are actually making some progress in this battle. More and more people who have struggled with addiction are coming forward to tell their story and how they came to accept that they needed help. Few people recover without supportive others who are holding them accountable and helping them understand that they aren’t bad people. Today, Nov. 3, 2016, my father would have been 100 years old had he lived. What is important to me is that he died at age 85 as a sober man who enjoyed life, sports, and his grandkids. People who suffer from an addiction are ill. As we hear the stories of family members, co-workers, friends, and those who are addicted, we hope to shed more light on recovery, and help our communities understand that addiction is treatable, and treatment works!
Susie Maier, LCSW, LCAC & Business Development & Marketing Director for Aspire Indiana.