The Importance of Community in Preventing Addiction
Very often, when we think about the growing addiction epidemic in the United States, and the need for drug and alcohol addiction prevention, we tend to look at it as something abstract; as numbers on a spreadsheet; a taking point in an argument or debate over some kind of macro solution. Even those of us who have seen, or directly experienced, the perils of overdose up close in our community often revert to talking about addiction and the solutions thereto as a problem that doesn’t really affect us. It’s worth examining if this unfortunately common way of discussing substance abuse is responsible for the slow progress we‘ve seen even in the wake of unthinkable fatality rates.
Perhaps the best way to confront addiction is to localize action whenever and wherever possible. The reality is that the impact of the drug epidemic is being felt all over the United States, from rural farm communities to larger cities; however, the prevention and treatment conversation seems to lie squarely in legislative chambers at the federal and state levels. In the meantime, it is our loved ones, colleagues, friends and neighbors who are succumbing to overdose at a more rapid pace than ever before. Many community addiction prevention organizations are starting to recognize they can have an impact regarding drug and alcohol addiction prevention and treatment in their little corners of the world; but is it time to do more?
While each community faces its own unique addiction problem, the most important thing is to take some kind of action that can affect change. Whether it’s hosting an awareness event at a local VFW or municipality; organizing regular Narcan training to empower ordinary citizens to prevent overdose where they live; coordinating safe prescription disposal events or anything else, any type of mobilization is the first step broader and more tangible solutions. Many communities across the United States coordinate with their local churches and faith-based organizations to host anti-drug events; others rely on internal and external organizations to spread awareness and education.
Solutions always start with education and engagement from the ground up. While the addiction crisis is certainly on the radar of national leaders, things tend to move notoriously slow in Washington, particularly in this political climate, which is why we can’t afford to wait for solutions to be handed down to us from our legislators. Get informed, get engaged and get involved. You don’t have to sit on the sidelines and wait for addiction to invade your community.
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