Removing the Stigma of Addiction

On the heels of our last Do No Harm event we had at the Newark Museum for the faith-based community, the notion of recovery and the community’s role in this development has been on my mind. One of the speakers who came to our event, NJ Recovery Advocate, Patrick Roff, also spoke about his own recovery and the mindset of a person who is entering into treatment. He described it as a frightening process for someone who wasn’t sure they could even live without their substance. Another speaker, Henry Mohammad, spoke at great length about his addiction, how it nearly ruined his life, and the long road he has taken to come out of it. Mr. Mohammad urged everyone in the audience to remove the stigma of addiction, to stop thinking of it as a character defect and as a disease that can be treated. Our partners at the Governor's Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse were also present at Do No Harm and their speaker, Rebecca Alfaro, also spoke at length on this topic and about their new campaign aimed at this very goal: KnowAddiction.nj.gov.

There are few people that embody this ideal more than another of our Do No Harm speakers, Glen King, Executive Director of the Freedom House in Clinton, NJ. At our event last Thursday, Mr. King spoke at length about the notion of long term recovery and the mental and physical health effects someone going through this can experience. The Freedom House is a recovery organization that concerns itself not only with helping to curb a patient’s addiction, but with the well-being of the person themselves. The Freedom House doesn’t only want the people who come to them for help to get better, they want them to succeed.

A major take away from our faith-based Do No Harm is that it truly takes a village help someone fight an addiction. Those who are suffering from this issue are not bad people, they simply need help. Our responsibility as members of the community is to give them the support they need to move into long-term recovery. This ideal also holds true when it comes to prevention. Parents and family members need to be mindful of changes in behavior or attitude in their loved ones, as this can be a symptom of substance abuse. 

It’s time we did away with the stigma of addiction once and for all. It’s time we realized the enormous power we have as community. It’s time to put an end to addiction and substance in New Jersey.

For more information on the signs and symptoms of opiate abuse, please visit TalkNowNJ.com.

For more information on recovery resources in New Jersey, visit http://drugfreenj.org/sandyresources/

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