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Finding addiction solutions takes information, engagement

EDITORIAL

The Advocate-Messenger

There are no easy answers when it comes to preventing drug abuse and its many negative personal and societal costs. Drugs are messy and there is no way around that.

But we think there are two essential ingredients that must be present in any community if it’s going to be successful in helping people avoid and recover from addiction: information and engagement.

We need sound, scientific information that will guide whatever solutions we decide to try. And we need people who are passionate about fixing the problem so that solutions can actually be implemented, not just talked about.

The Boyle County Agency for Substance Abuse Policy has long been helping provide those two essential ingredients for our local communities. Boyle ASAP completed it’s annual report this month, which details a lot of the work the agency has done in 2016-17. ASAP:

• sponsored three community overdose response trainings and distributed more than 200 naloxone kits;

• supported the work of the Boyle County syringe exchange;

• supported the use of two drug drop-boxes;

• used private donations to pay for treatment for 22 area residents who couldn’t afford it and to pay for travel to treatment for 30 area residents;

• supported alcohol- and drug-free Project Graduation events at Danville and Boyle County high schools;

• collected local data on addiction and recovery with help from a Centre College sociology class;

• cosponsored a first responder thank-you lunch for 170 first responders who deal with the consequences of the drug epidemic;

• supported evidence-based prevention programs in the schools; and

• collaborated with more than 32 organizations and reached more than 3,700 people through 39 community events.

It takes hard, thoughtful work from a lot of different people to help even one person recover from addiction.

It takes positive and encouraging people who support their friends dealing with addiction.

Sometimes, it takes a dose of reality from the criminal justice system to get someone on the right path.

Sometimes, it takes compassionate people in the criminal justice system who work to prevent the system from doing more harm than good.

It takes treatment professionals to guide people through the most difficult parts of recovery.

It takes employers who are willing to give people in recovery a chance.

It takes government-funded medical care for those who can’t afford it themselves.

It takes local government paying attention and crafting local policies carefully.

It takes churches and community organizations that help when someone falls through the cracks.

It takes a community-wide positive and accepting attitude that lets those in addiction or recovery know they don’t have to live in the shadows or in shame.

It’s not easy to accomplish any one of those things. Just as relapse is often a part of recovery, messing up our support for those facing addiction is a part of figuring things out and getting it right.

Our community is not perfect at helping those in addiction — not by a long shot. But we’re much better at it than we used to be, and we’re working to get even better. That’s thanks in no small part to the hard, thoughtful work of ASAP.