Addiction, Recovery, Mental Illness and the Need for Advocacy and Social Justice
Could we imagine in the year 2020 discussing legislation, budgets, and services vital to a group of people but not having their voices heard? Could we imagine minorities, the elderly, or animals not having representation? Yet in a modern day this happens to those who struggle with mental illness and Substance Use Disorder.
As we recently laid the late great civil right leader John Lewis to rest, how did this group of people fall through the cracks? I recall around 1989 my mom flipping through the yellow pages trying to find help for her son who had come to her admitting he wanted to die because he couldn’t break out of the grips of his addiction. I can only remember her desperation and literally crying as she made calls from the yellow pages only to answer, "No we don’t have insurance, I’m by myself in this; his father is in prison.“ This scenario has not changed much today. I myself receive call after call with a mom similar to where mine was almost thirty years ago. My son or daughter needs help and I don’t know where to turn.
Why in 2020 do we still not know where to turn? I believe it is a result of years at not being heard, represented, or treated as third class citizens. In my home state South Carolina, this must change. We as people in recovery, those who struggle with Substance Use Disorder, mental illness, and those that love us must have a voice.
There should be no third class citizens in this modern day society.
We must begin to acknowledge those suffering from Substance Use Disorder, not seeing them as moral failures and third class citizens. This needs to stop as being seen as not deserving to those that suffer. This is a treatable, preventable disease that deserves modern day access to treatment services and authentic recovery resources. This shouldn’t be considered access by what a person has, but rather access as rights of a human being. We continue to incarcerate those with mental illness and Substance Use Disorder with a clear and distinct failure in a war on drugs that was lost years ago. We must be in the room when discussions are being had by state agencies and elected officials in regards to mental illness and Substance Abuse Disorder.