In the absence of an answer as to the true cause of the illness, we often invent one. (See Episode 27 with Dr. Kevin McCauley for more on this.) Throughout human history, people have sought to explain illnesses through an individual’s moral or spiritual failings. To this day, we say, “Bless you,” when someone sneezes, which some historians believe is a holdover from medieval times when people believed that the sneeze expelled a demonic spirit from your body.
In recent years, AIDS, obesity-related illnesses, and addictive disorders have all been subject to moral and spiritual reasoning, often to the detriment of those who need help and support in order to recover. Thanks to the efforts of thousands of those who lived with HIV and AIDS, much progress has been made in both the stigma and treatment of that disease. Addiction, however, still has a long way to go. And, yet, as we have stated throughout this month, addictive disorders are our country’s number one public health issue. Period. If our country put half the amount of money and resources into healing addictive disorders and sharing the message of recovery that we do in advertising for alcohol and prescription opiates and constantly turning the spotlight on the devastation of addiction, our society would look completely different.
Changing faulty cultural perceptions of heavily stigmatized diseases like addictive disorders takes a village. It requires those who struggle with the illness to tell their stories, and set off a chain reaction of changes in public attitudes, state and local policies, research funding, prevention efforts and recovery support efforts.
In this episode, Dan talks to recovery advocates and activists Michael King and Patty McCarthy Metcalf on what we can do to turn the tide on our age old addiction epidemic in this country, and help our neighbors who struggle with addictive disorders to get back on the path of living healthy, productive, (and tax paying) lives.
About Our Guest
Michael King is the National Director of Outreach & Engagement for Facing Addiction, a national non-profit organization whose primary mission is to unify the voices of the 45 million Americans directly impacted by addiction. In his position, Michael works with and to expand Facing Addiction’s coalition of partnering organizations, the Facing Addiction Action Network. In the past, Michael worked for over a decade in the political arena as a political organizer, campaign manager and communications professional. He is the proud father of two young children, and a person in long term recovery.
Patty McCarthy Metcalf, M.S., is the Executive Director of Faces & Voices of Recovery, the nation’s leading recovery advocacy organization since 2001. Her work focuses on public policy, public education, community mobilizing, peer-based recovery support services and peer workforce development. She has been instrumental in the development of national accreditation standards for peer recovery support service. Patty has designed and delivered training on topics such as recovery messaging, ethics and boundaries, recovery-oriented systems of care (ROSC), peer recovery coaching and much more. As a woman in long-term recovery from alcohol and drug addiction since 1989, Ms. McCarthy Metcalf has frequently participated as a subject matter expert and thought leader with SAMHSA sponsored policy discussions. Ms. McCarthy Metcalf’s professional experience covers the spectrum of prevention, treatment and recovery.
Mentioned in this Episode
Facing Addiction in America, Executive Summary
Facing Addiction in America, Full U.S. Surgeon General’s Report
Rat Race, by Bob Marley (lyrics)
Mom (TV Show on CBS)
Reliable resources for learning more about addiction and finding help for yourself, a friend, or a family member.