August 8, 2014

“Creating an Intentional Community of Health”- United Way brings people together to talk about substance abuse

Posted in Events, Residential, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services, United Way tagged , , , , at 11:15 am by Lund

We know that opiate addiction is a problem in Vermont that now affects every single part of the community.  The state has seen a nearly 800% increase in opiate use in the last 14 years and a concurrent increase in crime and rates of incarceration.  Governor Shumlin dedicated his entire State of the State address this spring to the omnipresence of this issue, “It doesn’t affect just one class of people, it affects rich and poor,” Shumlin says. “It knows no party lines, it knows no economic lines.”   Bringing this issue to light in such a prominent way has forced people in the state to confront the problem and begin to talk about solutions.

This week the United Way of Chittenden County held a community forum to discuss the problem of opiate addiction and to allow for concerned community members to offer their ideas for solutions.  The event attracted over 120 people from all different backgrounds – medical professionals, law enforcement, social workers, academics, school administrators, parents, community activists, politicians.  It was an interactive meeting with plenty of time allowed for discussion and questions.  There were people in the room for whose lives had never been touched by drug use and people in the room in recovery.  There were people whose political and social backgrounds were so widely different that no other situation would have brought them together.  The common thread was concern for people in Vermont battling this illness.  There was an air of understanding and willingness in the room.  One lady advised the crowd to look around.  “We’ve got the right people in this room,” she said, “open your hearts and see the potential.”

United Way on Opiates

When the crowd broke out into groups for smaller discussions many people could be heard sharing how addiction had touched their lives, “It’s a sad, sad diseases,” said one medical professional, “and we mustn’t forget that it’s a disease.  This is not a choice people are making.  They get stuck in a hole and they can’t get out.”  In a later session of break out groups, the room was posed with questions to discuss – What is the state of treatment facilities in Vermont, what does prevention really look like, how can we provide the tools people need when they are in recovery so that they don’t slip back into the same lifestyle, how can we create an intentional culture of health instead of an unintentional culture of addiction?

Courtney Farrell, Associate Director of Residential and Community Treatment Services at Lund, who attended the meeting found the open discussion time to be most useful as it allowed people to connect the problem of addiction in the state with other issues.  “We had good conversations about how as a community we can be more proactive in working effectively together to support child protection as it relates to addiction in families, rather than just see it as one agency’s problem to fix.”  Collaboration and the interconnectedness of social issues were two themes that underlined the entire forum.  Brian Southworth from Lund, also an Associate Director of Residential and COmmunity Treatment Services, noted, “Participants were energized by the prospect of finding more effective ways to improve communication and more collaboratively address opiate addiction. There were a number of commitments made to facilitate forums in Burlington, and adjoining towns, for the purpose of expanding the conversation and planning.”

Attendees were encouraged to leave the discussion with an idea for one thing that they themselves could do to help address the problem.  One way that you can help is to support Lund which is the only treatment facility for substance abuse and mental health issues in Vermont where women can receive treatment while staying with their child.   Our residential treatment center serves 26 pregnant or parenting women and their children as they work towards an independent, successful life in recovery.  We also provide integrated, wraparound family support and education services to support the whole family in breaking cycles of poverty, abuse and addiction.  Lund works closely with other community organizations to ensure that we have a collaborative approach and a comprehensive understanding of the complex nature of addiction.   To learn more about Lund, click here.   To make a donation, click here

“Lund has shown me a life I didn’t even know existed. Lund has shown me how much more of a person I can be, and what it really means to live, not just to stay alive. Lund has given my daughter, Sienna,  the chance to break the multi- generational cycle of addiction, by helping her to have a mom who doesn’t use drugs.  My mom, my grandmother and my great grandmother are all addicts.  Who knows how far back it goes”  Tina, 26.

 

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