Here’s a startling image: Every four minutes, someone (usually a young person) dies as a result of addiction–the equivalent of a jumbo jet falling from the sky every day with no survivors.
Tragically, as we’re all too aware from scenes of the crash of Lufthansa Airbus A320, airplane passengers have no control in situations like what happened in the Alps.
But addiction deaths are preventable. That’s right. No one has to die from addiction.
Yet, the leading cause of death among young people is accidental overdose, surpassing car fatalities and homicides.
Everyone knows the war on drugs failed.
America tried everything. We passed tougher laws. We built new prisons for drug offenders. We repeated the mantra, Just say no.
Fortunately, there is a solution. When it comes to preventing and intervening in addiction and in supporting treatment and recovery, lots and lots of good things are happening.
Here are three:
1) After nearly a decade of battling for a sober high school in New York City, actress and activist Kristen Johnston’s SLAM organization (Sobriety, Learning, and Motivation) finally gets its wish. SLAM recently announced a new collaboration with a public school in Staten Island “to take the extraordinary step of implementing an intensive recovery program specific to the many teens in NYC seeking recovery from drugs or alcohol.”
2) Mainstream media is calling out alcohol advertisers, saying they should self-regulate advertising just as the tobacco industry does. A report in JAMA Pediatrics concluded that seeing or watching alcohol ads helps move kids toward their first experiences with alcohol. Can you just say, NO!
3) More bloggers and online journalists are telling incredible stories of recovery, like my friend Cathy Taughinbaugh. Cathy recently published a guest post by Elizabeth Garrison who lived through teenage addiction, faced prison time and now has a doctoral degree in clinical psychology.
There are hundreds of thousands more stories of grand accomplishment. Unfortunately, most of these stories are minimized rather than celebrated, but then addiction is often minimized even as our kids and young people are dying in droves.
Unite To Face Addiction
We need an alternative. We need a sweeping, new approach of EPIC proportions.
Praise God, there is one on the horizon.
With a little luck and a whole lot of elbow grease, you’ll hear about Unite To Face Addiction in the coming months. Here are the Cliff Notes:
A new collaborative group called Facing Addiction has developed a pretty incredible strategic plan, comprehensive in scope, to address the nation’s addiction crisis. Facing Addiction consists of members from the worlds of business, science, public policy, medical and community leaders.
Their kick-off event is Unite To Face Addiction–a major musical celebration and rally that will happen on The National Mall in Washington, D.C. during the weekend of October 3-4. They’re expecting more than 100,000 people and, knowing some of the principle partners of Facing Addiction, I have no doubt those numbers will swell.
I know I’ll be there. You won’t be able to keep me away. Why?
Because I’ve never felt such hope that we’re teetering on the tipping point of solving our nation’s Number One health crisis of addiction.
Remember the AIDS Quilt and what it did for changing the perception around HIV/AIDS?
The AIDS Quilt was displayed on The National Mall in 1987. Since then, billions of dollars have changed the course of the movement and people today live much differently with the disease than they did in the 1980s.