Discussing Addiction Makes Me Lose Facebook Friends

My Facebook wall served as a reminder to me recently that discourse rarely occurs in social media. I’ve lived long enough to know that as soon as we start using words like “liberal” and “conservative” that we’re not exchanging views.

Soapboxes are dangerous things for people like me. They give us the chance to express righteous anger and in the end we accomplish nothing but mutual offense.

Fuck that. (oops, I did it again…) I want discourse, not finger pointing and labeling.

Talking about addiction and the costs of treatment, law enforcement, and other potential solutions brings to mind the words a dear friend spoke to power many years ago:

“You’re counting beans and we’re counting bodies.” – Ardis White

I truly want to be unbiased; it’s just that people I love are dying while we debate…and try the same things that have failed historically, and refuse to learn from what’s worked in other states and countries…

I’m not so interested in what you think (the positions are relatively few and fairly clear cut) as I am in why you think it and what you propose alternatively.

If you believe that more law enforcement will solve Maine’s opiate epidemic then I need to understand your view on the War on Drugs and what it’s accomplished since Reagan started it?

That’s not an argument – that’s a question.

If you’re opposed to expanding Medicaid, which would allow more active addicts to get detoxed and participate in treatment, then I need to understand how you expect hospitals to pay for providing treatment to the uninsured.

If you favor longer prison terms for drug dealers, I need to understand why you believe that this is an effective deterrent when this approach hasn’t worked historically and I need to know why you’re willing to pay for the cost of incarceration? Further, I need to know if you make a distinction between a pusher and a dealer?

A pusher simply profits off the addicted. A dealer is often someone who is selling only to support their own addiction.

My proposal is that we simply decide what the least we can do is. Here’s what I propose:

– Detox funded. Period. Whether it’s in a hospital, a psych bed, or a detox center. The number one obstacle in addiction recovery is overcoming withdrawals and attaining sobriety. If you want to reduce overdose deaths, then this would be the common sense measure.

– Peer & Community Support

I want to defer to the experts. Nobody knows more about overcoming addiction than people who have long term recovery from addiction! Funding organizations like the Bangor Area Recovery Network allows a very small amount of money to go a very long way.

– Education & Personal Involvement

Addiction touches every life whether directly or indirectly. It is therefore the responsibility of each of us to become educated (facts on addiction, substances, and underlying causes) and address them as families, neighborhoods, religious and civic organizations. We can ask ourselves, “What are we willing to do to reduce/prevent the further spread of an epidemic?”

– Find Creative Ways to Support Recovery

For as much as people in active addiction tend to be depicted as lazy immoral people who depend on welfare, I can tell you that my experience in employing people in recovery is consistently and extremely positive. Nobody needs a second chance more and yet nobody has better work ethics.

Regardless of my politics, I’m going to hire someone to plow my driveway, do my yard work and do trade work for my home and business. By hiring people in recovery I provide opportunities and I reap the reward of great work from amazing people.

That’s the biggest secret that you may be missing out on: People in recovery from addiction are very simply awesome people well worth knowing.

Jim LaPierre

About Jim LaPierre

Jim LaPierre LCSW CCS is the Executive Director of Higher Ground Services in Brewer, Maine. He is a Recovery Ally, mental health therapist and addictions counselor. He specializes in facilitating recovery (whether from addiction, trauma, depression, anxiety, or past abuse) overcome obstacles, and improve their quality of life. Jim offers a limited amount of online therapy to those with very flexible schedules.