Last time, we discussed factors that contribute to happiness or our sense of wellbeing. This is especially important during this time of social distancing and increased isolation due to the Coronavirus. Many people are struggling with depression and anxiety during this uncertain time. As we discussed last time, there are some simple steps we can take to improve our mental health and wellbeing right now.
One of those simple steps is to practice gratitude. Your grandma was right. We do need to count our blessings.
Robert Emmons, a leading scientific expert on gratitude, states that gratitude is recognizing the goodness and benefits we experience in the world and acknowledging that the sources of this goodness are outside of ourselves. We are the recipients of many gifts, big and small, from people around us and our higher power. These gifts help us achieve the goodness in our own lives.
Gratitude has powerful physical, mental and emotional benefits for those who take time to practice it. It is a powerful, proven strategy to increase happiness and life satisfaction. The benefits of practicing gratitude include physical benefits of lowered blood pressure, better sleep, and strengthening immunity. People who practice gratitude tend to exercise more and take better care of their health.
Gratitude has emotional benefits. Gratitude makes us more resilient. It promotes forgiveness and strengthens relationships. Gratitude boosts positive emotions such as optimism, enthusiasm, joy and happiness. Grateful people tend to be more connected to their community, more helpful, appreciative, compassionate and giving.
Gratitude is a choice. Often, it isn't easy and may feel unnatural and forced. Our natural tendency is to focus on and remember the negative. According to The Neuroscience of Happiness by Rick Hanson, “Our brains are Velcro for negative experiences but Teflon for positive experiences.” The more we dwell on the positive, the more we overcome our natural tendency to only see the negative. The good news is, the more we practice gratitude, the easier it becomes.
The practice of gratitude is straightforward and uncomplicated. It is as simple as thinking about three to five things you are thankful for, sharing them with another person, or writing down in a gratitude journal. As surprising as it may seem, this daily practice can change your outlook on life and provide the benefits listed above. Learning to the habit of gratitude takes time and effort to become a natural part of your life. Eventually it will become automatic and happen without even thinking about it.
We have little control over our circumstances, but we can choose how we respond. Taking time to notice the good things—big and small—that happen in our everyday lives is a powerful tool to increase happiness, wellbeing and life satisfaction. Developing an attitude of gratitude is key to developing a more positive attitude and life satisfaction. So what are you grateful for today?
What makes us happy? What truly contributes to our sense of wellbeing? During this time of social distancing when we are unable to be in our normal routine, it is important to keep in mind what actuality improves our wellbeing and happiness. As I have been working from home these past few weeks, I have had the opportunity to do a little learning. Recently, I completed a free online Corsera course called the Science of Wellbeing through Yale University taught by Professor Laurie Santos.
According to research cited by Santos, the things we think will make us happy, in reality, don’t improve our wellbeing. Santos calls this “miswanting.” The things that most Americans believe will increase their happiness such as having a good job, lots of money, possessions, true love, attractive physical appearance and success do not make us as happy as we think they will. As soon as we achieve them, we want more. We adapt to the new normal, get used to having what we thought would bring happiness, the novelty wears off, and what we wanted so badly, soon becomes mundane and perhaps even boring. Familiarity does breed contempt when thinking about happiness.
So, the question is: How do we achieve true happiness? If achieving what we think will make us happy, actually doesn’t, then what will? The answers may surprise you.
According to the research presented in the Science of Wellbeing course, having social contacts increases our happiness. This is especially significant during this time of social isolation. Making a point of increasing contacts with people via phone calls or video messaging will brighten your day. Writing a letter, sending an email or text will benefit you and the recipient. Spending time with those you are social distancing with engaging in reading books, playing games, doing puzzles, cooking together, remembering past experiences, planning future experiences, sharing something you appreciate about someone will increase happiness. Even something as simple as making eye contact, smiling or waving at someone you see on the street will increase your mood and theirs as well.
Acts of kindness are another important factor. Doing something kind for someone else will increase your happiness more than doing something nice for yourself. Random acts of kindness may seem cliché, but actually improve happiness.
Taking care of yourself by getting exercise, good nutrition, and enough sleep will also increase your mood. Even changing your environment a bit, by putting unhealthy snacks in the cupboard instead of on the counter or putting fruit or healthy snacks in plain sight can improve your nutrition and wellbeing.
Participating in activities that you enjoy and find rewarding, where you lose track of time, and use your strengths is another strategy to increase your wellbeing.
Even in these days of isolation and lock-down, small things that you might not expect can brighten your day. Engaging in simple changes in your environment, your actions and thoughts can make a difference in your wellbeing and the happiness of those around you.
Next time we will discuss another aspect of happiness: Gratitude.
If you are interested in participating in free, online learning, follow this link to Corsera’s online courses: https://www.coursera.org/courses?query=free
As many of us are spending more time at home and practicing social distancing, we may find that we are entertaining ourselves with more online entertainment. In that light, I offer a review of the Netflix series DOPE.
DOPE is a three season, 12-episode docu-crime drama filmed from the perspective of drug dealers, users and police officers. It claims to be a “documentary focusing on people living both sides of the law.” Each episode is between 30 and 50 minutes long, focusing on one location or drug.
For readers who viewed the Netflix series The Pharmacist, please know that this is much harsher and more graphic. The F-word is frequently used, there are scenes from strip clubs, as well as people injecting drugs and experiencing their effects. This series is not for the squeamish or faint of heart. Many will find the content offensive and dark.
In digging a little deeper, online discussions questioned whether or not the scenes were real or re-enacted. I had that same question. “Dealers” and “users” cover their faces with masks and bandanas to disguise their identities but were still recognizable. (However, there was a news story from several sources indicating the arrest of the stars of the series.) Police are shown doing surveillance, pursuit and making arrests. Dealers and users explain why they are participating in substance use.
“You’re too Innocent for this Game,” (Season 2, e. 2) focuses on methamphetamine, (also known as ice, crystal, ice cream) in Indiana. The episode starts in Terre Haute, Indiana with “shake and bake” meth labs. We are told that 80% of crime in Vigo County is drug-related. The narrator reports “thanks to low pay and poor prospects, people in rural areas are driven to seek refuge in the oblivion of meth.” In 1995 there were six known meth labs in Indiana. In 2015 there were more than 1500. But that number is rapidly decreasing as a new form of concentrated, more potent meth has started arriving from Mexico.
The focus of DOPE then shifts to a much more concentrated, potent, manufactured crystal meth imported from drug cartels to Gary, Indiana. The meth is distributed by Gary dealers using the Indiana highway system to small towns such as Muncie, Lafayette, and Lebanon. We learn some frightening facts: Crystal meth is ten times stronger than home-baked. The life expectancy of a crystal meth user is 38 years. Once people get started on meth, they just keep coming back. The Gary dealer brags, “Crystal meth is the drug of today. That’s what everybody’s using.” He says a person can stay high on the meth he sells for 48 hours.
Diana, a homeless woman in Muncie tells of her addiction to meth and what she experiences when she injects. But in 24 hours she will need more. When her next buy turns out to be rocks and not meth, she goes into withdrawal, feeling edgy, sick, horrid, miserable. A traffic stop in Terre Haute shows a man who has been a meth user for more than thirty years. The officer wonders if he will ever get clean. The recovery rate for meth is not very successful. We see the body spasms, obsessiveness and violence caused by meth.
Viewers get a sense of the desperation of those who are addicted, the blasé attitude and anxiety of those who distribute, and the frustration of the police. “You’re too Innocent for this Game,” provides a multi-faceted picture of meth trade in Indiana.
With the new requirements to shelter in place for the next few weeks, online recovery support continues to be essential for our friends in recovery.
Another free, online recovery resource is In the Rooms. Established in 2008 by Ken Pomerance and Ron Tannebaum, both in long-term recovery, In the Rooms (ITR) was designed “to give recovering addicts a place to meet and socialize when they’re not in face-to-face meetings.” The ITR mantra is the acronym HITCH: Help, Inform, Touch, Connect, and Heal all those whose lives have been touched by addiction.
The ITR community includes more than 600,000 members, connecting them to 130 0nline meetings each week. “Through live meetings, discussion groups, and all the other tools In the Rooms has to offer, people connect with one another and help each other along their recovery journeys. Our goal was to reach people in the recovery community in every nook and cranny of the world,” according to Ken Pomerance in a October 2017 interview on thefix.com Since the CoVid 19 restrictions began, Ken and Ron report they are gaining more than 3000 new members every day. "If someone is afraid to attend a meeting due to the coronavirus, then they might be more apt to relapse, especially in early recovery," said Ken. All members support, protect, and encourage each other. Members can post blogs, add items to the newsfeed, and send private messages similar to the Facebook format. The platform also includes a place for private journaling.
In the Rooms embraces all paths to recovery, whether they are 12-step programs or focus on mental and behavioral health. ITR can be used independently or in conjunction with face-to-face meetings.
There is a wealth of information on recovery including member blogs, daily encouragement and material on recovery from experts in the field. The In the Rooms treatment locator database can help you find treatment centers near you.
Ron and Ken designed In the Rooms to be helpful to those who travel, live in rural areas, are hospitalized, or find themselves in any situation where accessing a face-to-face recovery community is difficult. In the Rooms protects the confidentiality of its members to provide a safe, private place to be surrounded by an encouraging recovery community. When you create your online profile, you decide how much information to share. The only requirement for registration is a username.
Although many were skeptical that online recovery groups would provide the support of a face-to-face meeting, Ron and Ken have found the opposite to be true. “People are much more vulnerable because they’re in the comfort of their own home, not looking into 30 sets of prying eyes.” Typically, meetings included 80-100 people. Recently Ken reported attending a meeting with more than 500 online participants. In spite of the size and format, the meetings are warm and friendly. Even though only a few can share, other attendees can message each other, connect, and share their own stories.
For more information, go to Intheroom.com or visit their Facebook page @intherooms. Other resources offer support for friends and family members of those struggling with substance use. There are weekly online video meetings for Alanon and Nar-anon as well as information and resources.
Even before the Corona virus, only 10% of those struggling with addiction were in treatment. Social distancing and closures will no doubt increase this statistic, which has been influenced by many factors: lack of treatment providers, stigma, and transportation barriers to name a few.
As we have discussed before, Sam Quinones, author of the book Dreamland, insists that the opposite of addiction is not sobriety, but connection. While we know that social distancing is required to stop the spread of disease, we also know that isolation is a serious threat to our loved ones who struggle with mental health and substance use disorder. Now with the stay-at-home order, mutual aid recovery groups such as AA and NA are unable to meet, and people in recovery may be left without support.
AA and Smart Recovery offer online meetings to assist with this issue. (Online AA meetings may be found at http://aa-intergroup.org/directory.php) (Smart Recovery online meetings may be found at Smartrecovery.org.)
I recently learned of a free recovery app called Connections developed by the Addiction Policy Forum and CHESS Health. Their website states that Connections is evidence-based with years of research to prevent relapse and promote social-emotional engagement.
The app has a variety of features including daily check-ins, message boards, AA meeting locators, goal setting activities, journaling, surveys, suggestions for activities, and e-therapy.
I was especially interested in the e-therapy section. This section provides interactive lessons on topics related to recognizing, avoiding, and coping with situations that may lead to relapse. The seven lessons discuss triggers, cravings, problem solving, how small decisions lead to relapse, and avoiding risky situations that may end in drug use.
The e-therapy lessons are based on cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). CBT helps people pay attention to their thinking, allowing them to control their thoughts, emotions, and behaviors. Each lesson description, video, alternative behaviors, skills practice, and worksheets to evaluate a person’s own behavior and thinking. At the end of each lesson, there is a CBT Challenge to test concept mastery with a series of true/false questions. Additional practice is offered for each skill as well as a downloadable review for each lesson. Viewers are encouraged to practice the skill on their own and asked if they completed the assignment at their next log in.
In addition, an online resource library provides links to online videos, music, and speakers related to various areas of recovery support.
Each viewer is encouraged to personalize the app by entering motivations for staying sober, such as a picture of loved one, a quote or a video to remind them why they are in recovery, contact information of people who support their recovery, ore reminders of risky places to avoid. The hope is that having the information at the viewer’s fingertips will allow quick access when resolve waivers.
A red lighthouse icon will immediately provide connection to a supportive help if the viewer feels very stressed or needs urgent help in recovery. (911 should always be called in a medical emergency.)
There is also an area similar to Facebook that allows the individual to post on his own wall or view the walls of others in recovery.
To gain access to the Connection app go to https://www.addictionpolicy.org/connections-app. Enter your name, email, date of birth and gender, and within twenty-four hours you will receive a link and password to sign in and begin using the app.
During this time of social distancing and sheltering in place, it is helpful to know there are online resources available to those in recovery to aid them in sobriety.
Last time, we discussed the basics of Alcoholics Anonymous and the 12-Step process; today we will look at AA meetings and how they work.
The purpose of all AA group meetings, as their Preamble states, is for AA members to “share their experience, strength and hope with each other that they may solve their common problem and help others to recover from alcoholism.” Toward this end, AA groups have both open and closed meetings.
Closed meetings are for AA members only, for those who have a drinking problem and “have a desire to stop drinking.” In a closed meeting, members can speak openly and honestly about their problem or situation, knowing that everyone else in the room has experienced similar situations.
Open meetings are available to anyone interested in the Alcoholics Anonymous program of recovery from alcoholism. Non-alcoholics, including students, family members, professionals, members of the press, or anyone interested in learning about AA may attend open meetings as observers.
Whether open or closed, AA group meetings are conducted by AA members who determine the format of their meetings. Leadership is rotated, so no one person is in charge.
Meetings often begin with the reading of AA literature, which may include the Preamble, 12 Steps, 12 Traditions, or Daily Meditations. There may be a discussion of a recovery-related topic. In open meetings, a speaker may share a story of recovery and hope. Members respond to the readings and story, taking turns and encouraging one another.
Many AA groups pass out chips to celebrate members’ accomplishments of recovery and sobriety. Chips are small round tokens of various colors marking periods of sobriety. Depending on the group, chips may be awarded at sobriety time frames of 24 hours, 1 to 4 weeks, monthly up to 11 months, and then yearly. The AA organization does not provide chips, but many AA groups have embraced this practice.
When asked which chip is the hardest to earn, a wise AA member said, “The next one.”
Another important component of the AA program is sponsorship. New members are encouraged to find a sponsor -another AA member- who acts as sympathetic friend to guide them into how AA works, answer questions, introduce them to AA resources and group members, and offer advice to deal with rough spots and temptation. In other words, sponsors help new members create a whole new way of life, not just sobriety. But the sponsor is not responsible for maintaining the newcomer’s sobriety; AA views this as the responsibility of the entire AA program. Sponsors should have at least one year of sobriety and enjoy their recovery. Established members of AA find that sponsoring someone strengthens their own sobriety. By becoming a sponsor, they are fulfilling Step 12 of the 12-step process. By helping others, they help themselves.
AA is considered one of the most successful mutual aid societies in helping people recover from substance abuse. If you are interested in learning more, go to the AA website where you will find meeting locations and resources to aid sobriety.
One of the best sources of support for those in recovery are mutual aid societies, or support groups, where people who have experienced various forms of substance use come together to support each other in recovery. Although drug misuse, especially opioids, has garnered media attention recently, alcoholism is the most commonly abused substance in the United States.
Alcoholics Anonymous is the best known and most successful mutual aid society. According to the AA website: “AA is an international fellowship of men and women who have had a drinking problem. It is nonprofessional, self-supporting, multiracial, apolitical, and available almost everywhere. There are no age or education requirements. Membership is free and open to anyone who wants to do something about his or her drinking problem.”
Formed in 1935 by Bill Wilson and Dr. Bob Smith, AA began with three members and quickly grew. Although accurate numbers are difficult to obtain because of the anonymity of AA membership, the organization estimates that worldwide there are currently more than two million members within 125,000 groups.
In 1939, The AA Big Book was first published, explaining the 12 Steps of Recovery. The 12 steps are guidelines or steps toward recovery. They may also be seen as a series of personal choices and actions that allow a person in recovery to move away from dependence and toward control over alcohol abuse.
Whether through personal and family experience or through media, many of us have heard of the 12 steps. It’s important to remember that these actions are serious goals and accomplishments for people in recovery. Those in AA call doing the steps “working the program” and take personal responsibility for their efforts. The 12 steps have been adapted by other support groups, such as Gamblers Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous to help people recover from various addictions, and the term “12-step program” is often used to describe mutual aid societies that use this recovery technique.
Some people might feel initially uncomfortable with the religious aspect of the AA program. AA does not support any specific religion but recognizes that helping people access the positive emotions of a higher power can facilitate recovery. Members insist that the focus is “spiritual and not religious,” and an individual can define the “higher power.” Just as some people may be uncomfortable with religious tones, some religious organizations find the open-ended spiritualism to be offensive in its vagueness.
Regardless of one’s preconception of the steps or the spiritual aspect of AA, research from various sources suggests that AA is one of the most successful recovery supports available. Its success comes from helping people change their social networks to ones that support sobriety and recovery, increasing abstinence and healthy coping skills, and motivating themselves and others to maintain recovery over time.
If you or someone you know needs to connect with AA, call the AA Hotline: 800-422-3140.
Next time we will continue our discussion of AA.
In past columns I have done book reviews highlighting aspects of substance use and its effect on individuals and families. When Netflix recently began streaming a four-part docuseries on opioids called The Pharmacist, it presented a perfect opportunity for me to review other media works, as well.The story begins in 1999 with the murder of Dan Schneider’s son, Danny, during a crack drug deal in New Orleans, Louisiana. The first episode, Justice for Danny, centers on Dan’s frustration with the New Orleans Police efforts to solve the murder, so he begins his own investigation to track down his son’s murderer.
But solving his son’s murder is only the beginning. In episode two, A Mission from God, Dan returns to work as a pharmacist in a small neighborhood pharmacy. He notices all the Oxycontin prescriptions filled for young, healthy-looking people in the small neighborhood pharmacy where he works. Through conversations with patients and some sleuthing on his own, he locates a pill mill ― a clinic where millions of Oxycontin pain killers are prescribed by a local doctor.
Episode three, Dope Dealers with White Lab Coats, focuses on Schneider’s investigation of the pill mill, the concurrent investigation by the DEA and Louisiana’s Medical Board into Dr. Cleggit’s medical practice, and a spike in overdose deaths in their county.
Episode four, Tunnel of Hope, begins with the story of Dr. Cleggit, the shutting down of her clinic, and unexpected consequences for the community. The series ends with efforts to expose Purdue Pharma’s role in the current opioid crisis.
The docuseries shows a variety of perspectives, including interviews with witnesses of Danny’s murder, the murderer, New Orleans police, DEA officers, Dr. Cleggit, Louisiana Medical examiner, Purdue Pharma sales rep, the Schneider family, and Oxycontin users. These voices paint the picture of how all these pieces came together to cause the perfect storm of the Oxycontin epidemic. It portrays many of the complexities that brought us to the current crisis and puts a face on the devastation of addiction for individuals and families.
Although Purdue Pharma’s involvement in the opioid crisis has been extensively covered in the media today, Dan Schneider’s investigation preceded the current stories by more than a decade. The information he uncovered was a shocking revelation at the time.
For sensitive viewers, there is some foul language (including the F word). Episode One contains disturbing audio recordings of the Schneider family’s intense grief over the loss of their son. The raw emotion can be difficult and uncomfortable to hear.
I found myself engrossed in the complex story and watched all four 50-minute episodes in one afternoon. It was a moving, powerful, and gripping story of how one man took on a crime investigation, pill mills and big pharma to save others from suffering the pain and loss he experienced in losing his son.
If this series inspires you to join local efforts to combat substance abuse, please contact the White County United Way at 574-583-6544 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for information on how you can help!
This is the second set of questions and answers reviewing the information discussed over the course of the year in the This is for you, Chad weekly column. Read the questions, and try to answer before reading. Each of these questions was answered in detail during the past year of This for you Chad articles. Please go to the White County United Way website to access full articles. http://www.whitecountyunitedway.org/lynn
Q9. What is recovery capital? Recovery capital is any resource that supports a person’s recovery. Resources can be physical (basic needs such as food, housing and transportation), human (life and employment skills, and education), social (positive, supportive relationships), and cultural (community attitudes). The more recovery capital available, the more likely an individual will be successful in maintaining recovery.
Q10. What are ACEs and how do they affect substance use? Adverse childhood experiences have long term effects on a person’s ability to cope with life. The more ACEs a child experiences, the more likely they will have negative, long-term consequences affecting physical and mental health and life expectancy. Research shows that three or more ACEs is correlated to increased substance use in later life. Preventing ACEs and providing protective factors for children plays a huge role in prevention efforts.
Q11. How does substance use affect employers? Seventy-five percent of Indiana employers report that substance abuse impacts the workplace in absenteeism, shortage of workers, negative publicity for the company, decreased productivity, increased insurance costs, accidents, and theft. Research shows that 10% of all Indiana workers have substance use disorder, and an additional 15% have family members who struggle with substance use.
Q12. What is stigma and how does it affect those involved in substance abuse? Stigma is judging and discriminating against those with substance use. It is an us-versus-them mentality. According to the US Surgeon General, Dr. Jerome Adams, stigma kills more people in substance use than anything else by keeping them isolated, alone, and out of treatment.
Q 13. What is Narcan? Why is it controversial? Narcan is an opioid reversal agent that can save people from overdose. It has been credited with the recent decrease in overdose deaths. Some people object to its use, arguing that those in overdose chose their circumstances and do not deserve our help. Some people find it offensive that Narcan is freely distributed while other life-saving drugs are too expensive for some people to afford. Families of those in substance use say that dead people do not recover and Narcan keeps them alive until they are willing to accept treatment.
Q14. What can one person do? Each of us can properly dispose of unused medications to prevent illicit use, talk to our health care providers about possible alternatives to opioid pain killers, support families of those involved with substance use disorder and extend compassion to those struggling with the disease. Share the number for peer recovery coaching. No one should die because they did not know where to turn for help: 765-490-0381.
Q15. Who is Chad from “This is for you, Chad”? During my first year of AmeriCorps service, I was given the opportunity to interview inmates at the White County Jail. Many were discouraged by the negative effects of substance misuse on the entire community. One saw the only ray of hope was for people to become more aware of the realities of addiction and drug use. He believed that with more information, people could see the dangers and avoid becoming ensnared. He planted a seed of an idea, and the articles grew to explain the epidemic to the public. This is for you, Chad is a series of articles written in hopes that he is right!
February 23rd is the first-year anniversary of this column. Thank you to the faithful readers who have read and commented on it. As we mark this occasion, it is a good opportunity to look back and review information discussed so far. I encourage you to test yourself and see how much you have learned about the opioid epidemic. I will be using a question/answer format for the next two columns. Read the questions, and try to answer before reading on. Each of these questions was answered in detail during the past year of This for you, Chad articles.
Q1. What are opioids and why are they so dangerous?
Opioids are drugs derived from the poppy plant. They include prescription medications such as hydrocodone, oxycontin, morphine, and fentanyl, as well as illegal drugs such as heroin. Opioids are dangerous because they can quickly lead to physical dependence. Over time they change the structure of the brain, leading to constant drug cravings and addiction.
Q2. What is the danger of fentanyl? Fentanyl is a highly potent opioid. It only takes a few grains (think grains of salt) to cause overdose and death. Fentanyl is cheap and easy to illicitly obtain. Many drug dealers mix fentanyl with other substances to increase the high and likelihood of addiction, creating repeat customers.
Q3. What are signs someone has a problem with drugs? The most common signs are changes in behavior such as change in friends, mood swings, increased financial need, and secrecy. Those around the person often sense that something is wrong, but are unsure what the problem is. At the beginning of the problem, the signs may be easily hidden or confused with stress and life change.
Q4. Who can become addicted? ANYONE! Some people can become hooked on opioids in a single dose. Seniors and youth are vulnerable, as is anyone with an opioid prescription.
Q5. Can people who are involved in addiction recover? Absolutely! There are 23 million people in active recovery in the United States today. Treatment works. Recovery is possible. There is hope. Call for peer recovery support, 24 hours a day: 765-490-0381.
Q6. What is M.A.T.?
M.A.T. is medication assisted treatment for opioid use disorder which includes opioid replacement medication and counseling to deal with underlying issues that contributed to substance use. It is considered the gold standard of treatment by addiction specialists, but some others consider it replacing one opioid with another.
Q7. What are factors that contributed to the opioid epidemic? Many influences sparked the epidemic: Pain as 5th patient vital sign and financial incentives for positive patient satisfaction surveys, aggressive marketing by pharmaceutical companies, the war on drugs, drug cartels, societal demands for quick fixes, breakdown of the family and community, and lack of insurance coverage for holistic pain treatment are often cited as sources of the problem.
Q8. How does addiction affect families? Addiction not only affects the person using substances, but their loved ones are also ensnared in the crisis. Family members may struggle to support their loved ones without enabling substance use, often experience emotional trauma of their loved ones’ struggles, suffer blame and judgement from others, second-guess every decision made in their relationship, and wait endlessly for the phone to ring with the next crisis. The more vulnerable a family member of a person using substances, the more likely they are to become victims of theft, fraud, abuse, and/or neglect.
How did you do? To reread the full articles, please go to the White County United Way website. http://www.whitecountyunitedway.org/lynn
Lynn Saylor is the AmeriCorps member working with the United Against Opioid Abuse Initiative alongside the White County United Way. She is a major facilitator of the United Council on Opioids serving White County and a regular contributor to local media.