Please Know...

As I come to know these fine people, they share with me more of their personal and sensitive stories. Their collective story is what I am trying to share with you as my way of breaking the stereotypical beliefs that exist. "Blog names" have occasionally been given to me by the person whose story I am telling. Names are never their actual names and wherever I can do so, I might use the opposite pronoun (his/her, etc.) just to help increase their privacy.


Monday, July 8, 2019

The Opposite of Addiction...


"The Opposite of Addiction IS NOT Sobriety. 
  The Opposite of Addiction IS Connection."


This is the closing statement in this TED Talk.  Here are a couple of real-life examples:

"Sally" and her Mom…  I've known Sally for my entire time of visiting the streets of Kensington.  She's an awesome woman who knows her mind.  From time to time, she's even given me a piece of her mind but that's a topic for another day…  J  

Sally was one of the first people I met when I started visiting Emerald City almost three years ago.  She was there on that dangerously cold winter morning this past January when the police evicted everyone from the connection of their community under that railroad bridge nicknamed "Emerald City".

For most - if not all - of these three years, Sally had a weekly lunch date with her Mom.  Mom would come to the area and Sally would meet her.  They would spend some time together.  From time to time, they would even go on an extended day out.  Mom showed respect for Sally and her decisions.  For as tough as it was for Sally and her Mom, they maintained connection one with the other.  Sally is finding her way away from what was to what can be mostly because of the positive connection that was maintained between her and her Mom. 

"The Opposite of Addiction IS NOT Sobriety.  
 The Opposite of Addiction IS Connection."

"Emmy" and her Mom…  Emmy has been on the streets of Kensington for a couple of years.  I've known her most of that time.  She recently had her 23rd birthday - on the street with no family or Non-street friends around to celebrate.  When I saw her yesterday, I gave her a birthday card.  Her tough exterior melted a bit as she took it from me.  She carried that card down Kensington Avenue.  I saw from a distance her opening it. 

An hour or so later, Emmy asked me if she could call home to talk to her Mom.  I said "Of course!"  She sat in the passenger side of my car.  Using my phone, she called her Mom.  One of the first sentences Emmy said with tucked in tears of attempted street toughness was "It's so nice to hear your voice Mom!"

"The Opposite of Addiction IS NOT Sobriety.  
 The Opposite of Addiction IS Connection."

When people who suffer from Substance Use Disorder are ostracized to the streets, connection with family, friends and the positive aspects of society have been broken or severely strained.

When the city breaks up "tent communities" because they don't look nice and are believed to be a danger to the established residents of the area, the connection among members of that tent community is broken or severely strained.  Connection between these former tent community residents and outreach groups become strained as well since outreach folks struggle to find those former residents.

When police walk along the public sidewalks evicting Substance Use Disorder patients from sidewalks that have become makeshift, grassroots hospital wards, they are breaking what little connection exists between these patients and the established preexisting community. 

"The Opposite of Addiction IS NOT Sobriety.  The Opposite of Addiction IS Connection."

In all that we do in our efforts to reduce the suffering and death related to addiction and homelessness, WE MUST find new ways and strengthen existing positive ways to build connections with these fine men and women! 

We must find a way to create a culture of connection because:

"The Opposite of Addiction IS NOT Sobriety.  
 The Opposite of Addiction IS Connection."

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