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The Power of Stories: Trump's New Initiative

"There is power in stories."  As the opiate crisis continues, we hear this comment more and more.  However, its overuse does not in any way undermine the truth of the statement.

A couple of days ago President Trump began soliciting stories of recovery--labeling the current situation as the crisis next door-- and already the link is flooded with stories of recovery.  So often the media focuses on overdoses, a way to convey the exigency of the current situation and elicit sympathy rather than distain for those impacted by addiction.  And yet for every tragic story, there are thousands of stories that have satisfactory, if not happy endings.

I think President Trump's initiative has potential.  Although addiction may leave a path of destruction and heartbreak in its wake, it is not, after all, a death sentence.  Millions have found a pathway to recovery. Just a few years ago, a person looking for treatment faced one obstacle after another--hospital and insurance policies, lack of resources and treatment options etc.

However, in many states,the obstacles to treatment are slowly toppling with changes in policies, new legislation and increased funding. Help is more readily available now than ever before. At the same time, the face of addiction is changing and the associated stigma is dissipating with the recognition that addiction is a disease, rather than a moral failing.

What does this have to do with stories of recovery?  They help create a "bandwagon" effect, a sense that everyone is choosing recovery: who wants to be the one left behind?   Addiction may not be a choice, but picking up a phone and typing in any one of the many helpline numbers is a choice.  And if there is a smooth pathway from that phone call to treatment, then lives can be saved.

Collecting and displaying recovery stories is not meant to be the solution, but rather one more way to address the current crisis. If it inspires hope and encourages people with an active addiction to take the initial steps toward recovery, I'm all for it.


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