COMMUNITY CONNECTION IN FIGHTING ADDICTION – WENDY BLANCHARD, M.S., CHHC

So many came out last night in the community that I called home for 25 years, and still consider home. My roots are there. Hundreds of parents and children from the Clarkstown School District in Rockland County, N.Y. came to learn, to listen, and to vent their anger and concerns on the current prescription drug and heroin epidemic that is taking lives needlessly every day, breaking our families apart, and leaving a wide path of destruction in the lives of so many in our communities.

“The Perfect Storm: A Prescription Drug and Heroin Epidemic” was attended by hundreds with a panel that consisted of  the District Attorney, Chief of Police, an LCSW, Steve, who is a recovering addict, and Carole, the mom of an addict, both of whom spoke about their personal stories of addiction.

I was so impressed and inspired by Steve’s story of recovery, and most especially when he explained that tonight in this forum, he would reveal his last name. Many in the recovery community choose to only use their first name because of the shame and stigma that is attached to the disease of addiction. Steve understands the importance of being proud to be in recovery, to share his story, and to continue the dialogue, especially with the younger generation in offering them support and insight into Addiction, in the hopes of using education as a preventative tool. From the very beginning of my recovery, I spoke candidly about my story of addiction and co-occurring disorders in order to raise awareness and remove the stigma, and to offer others hope in finding their own path to recovery.

The alarming statistics are that in Rockland County, from 2007 to 2012, the number of young people ages 18-24 that needed a form of rehabilitation rose almost 300%. Every 19 minutes, there is another death from a drug overdose in the U.S. and it is led by prescription drugs.

The District Attorney stated that it is impossible to go after the pharmaceutical companies because that’s like “political suicide,” so he feels that appealing to the doctors by educating them on the powerful and deadly consequences of the over-prescribing that is going on in this country is the way to go. I feel that this is going to take so much work on the part of so many people, and this is why COMMUNITY is vital in fighting this disease. The doctor that was prescribing over 2,000 pills a month for me, along with the pharmacy filling those prescriptions, are still practicing, and they are well aware that I came very close to death in 2012-13, and not once ever denied me the pills I was seeking, even seeing me slowly deteriorating before their eyes. They never tried to intervene to save my life. Prescription drugs rake in a lot of money for these doctors, and I feel that is what I was to them. A paycheck.

I would hope that most doctor’s will be open to a conversation and open to hearing about how prescribing ongoing excessive amounts of opiates and other narcotics contributes to the drug epidemic. When the patient becomes addicted, and then can no longer get a prescription, they turn to Heroin. Where is the accountability on the part of the doctor and the pharmacy?

Addiction is a progressive brain disease and I feel that the healthcare community as a whole needs to be educated fluently on this disease and its co-occurring disorders.

In my opinion, the overall serious state of this nation’s addiction crisis is that many in the medical community do not truly understand this progressive brain disease, and the information and findings are changing constantly.

It would help to immerse those in the medical community who are not educated on this disease in learning about the disease of Addiction and its co-occurring disorders. This means that the existing healthcare community must catch up on all of the vital information and life saving information, including nutritional counseling and alternative solutions as an alternative pathway to recovery. We must also focus on specific longterm treatment programs as we absolutely know that sending a patient into a hospital and “stabilizing” them for 3 days, then releasing them without anything having changed, is a PRESCRIPTION FOR DEATH.

Nutritional Education as in “Let thy food be thy medicine” should be introduced early in children’s education as a preventative action, and also introduced in Recovery Community Centers, treatment facilities, and to healthcare professionals so that along with Recovery Coaching and other existing traditional treatment, first responders in the E.R. and healthcare professionals will have the knowledge to appropriately counsel patients on the many paths that are available to recovery. Nutritional counseling offers to teach people how to heal on a cellular level through healthy nutrition and other alternative modalities using whole foods and natural and organic solutions as in the way that I have recovered, and how I manage my disease. This practice will allow a patient to heal inflammation and dis-ease on a cellular level which will promote sustainability and long term success in recovery. The medical community are our first responders to this crisis, and in my opinion, the over-prescribing, many times, is due to their ignorance and lack of education on Addiction. Some do not have the tools that are needed to guide and support needed to heal people with this disease, so they go to the easiest route for themselves which is to write a prescription.

I believe that education on Addiction, Recovery, nutritional counseling and other alternative modalities in a Holistic Approach to Recovery will promote prevention of this disease, and aid in management and treatment of this disease, that is slow and steady, and that is built on rebuilding our immune system which will promote optimal health and aid in being a pathway to recovery.

It is of the utmost importance to continue to have these types of Town Hall meeting discussions as we did last night to share the information, to raise awareness, to remove the stigma, to empower and to educate, and to stay connected as this epidemic touches every single person in our communities on some level.

I will continue to speak and write about my journey as it is so important for others to see that with hard work, dedication, passion and love of oneself, guided and supported by community of which I have been so blessed, there is a beautiful and blessed life on the other side of addiction. Most importantly, it is so important to understand that there is nothing to be ashamed of. Addiction is a real disease, and when we are ill, in any disease, we are not at our best. In recovery, we are able to discover our authentic selves and create the life we were meant to live by the grace of God, and with the Universe guiding us.

Last night in “going home,” I was able to look the police chief in the eye and shake his hand to thank him for all that he and the officers of the Clarkstown Police Department do in this crisis, and most especially, for all of the support they gave to me during my active addiction when I needed their help. I am so very grateful.

If you have questions or comments on my holistic approach to addiction recovery, please contact me at wendyblanchard044@gmail.com.

Wishing you harmonious health 4 life!

Love and blessings,

Wendy

copyright 2016 Wendy Blanchard, M.S., CHHC and Harmonious Health 4 Life
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

 

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