By Dr. Arnie Schuster
The fact that addiction is epidemic in our country is clear. Probably every family has been affected in some way. For many it is the result of the death of a parent, child, sibling, other family member, friend, or family friend by overdose or substance related illness or accident. What is not as clear to many is that the resources for treatment in most communities are seriously lacking or absent. This is tragic considering that overdosing is the main cause of accidental death, even higher than traffic fatalities, gun-related homicides and suicides – The Washington Post, Feb 7, 2014.
This does not even account for deaths indirectly related to overdose and the tremendous cost of substance abuse in many other areas. The news is filled with stories of traffic accidents and gun-related deaths along with pleas and editorials on the need for increased car safety and gun control. The chants for more accessibility to treatment for substance abuse, on the other hand,
are not as loud.
Earlier this year, Brooke Erin Simmers, the 19 year old daughter of Kevin and Dana Simmers of Clear Spring, MD passed away from a heroin overdose. The Simmers’ are building Brooke’s House in her memory to “inspire and empower women suffering from alcohol and substance use disorder by providing a safe, stable, and emotionally supportive environment during the early stage of recovery.” Brooke was a beautiful, bright teenager with enormous potential. She, like many of our children, family and friends was side-tracked in life as a result of, first alcohol which then lead to the more addictive, dangerous drugs. Hopes and aspirations of a future career and family of her own were cast out by the power of and struggle with addiction.
Anybody who works with addiction or has a family member, friend or personal experience with addiction, knows that awareness of the need for help is fleeting. Addiction is unlike other diseases where the suffering and pain leads us to seek help, and where help is often readily available, especially for those in the most acute need. Imagine now, the addict who has such a fleeting moment of awareness or the pain is just too great and asks for help. In many communities, if there are treatment centers, there is a waiting list. Wait a couple of hours and your loved one or friend “doesn’t need help any longer.” Also imagine, again, unlike other illnesses, the addict slips or relapses. In some centers, their coveted spot in the treatment program is gone – they are discharged for relapsing. Would the diabetic who slipped and ate a chocolate cake be discharged from treatment?
The path to recovery is bumpy and difficult, and requires a great deal of support and perseverance. However, it is achievable, but only with the help and support of family, friends, and the community. For that reason, more centers like Brooke’s House are desperately needed. Please join DocuTrac in supporting Brooke’s House though your donation.
For every program sold, through the end of the year, DocuTrac will contribute a portion of the sale to Brooke’s House.