Thoughts from Don Troutman, Founder, Clean & Sober Transitional Living

“Not in my back yard” has been a long-standing issue with sober living homes and their residents throughout the country. Sometimes the NIMBYism is overt; sometimes it is more cloistered.  I’ve heard, as an example, of a businessman who hesitated to rent one of his business properties to an AA group for their weekly meetings. Tell me - what is the risk in renting to a group of people who continue to bolster their sobriety?  Wouldn’t it be riskier to rent to a group of people who were drinking and taking drugs?

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In 2015, only 11 percent of people who needed addiction treatment received it. With 2.6 million Americans already addicted to prescription medication and the 329,000 Americans currently using heroin, who is shaping the addiction policy that drives resources for prevention, treatment and recovery? Read Associate Professor of Pharmacy Erin Winstanley’s compelling case for collaborating with addiction scientists – and not just politicians – as we strive to answer key questions and align policy with science.

If you went to the California Capital Airshow (at Sacramento’s Mather Field on September 9 and 10), you might have discovered Safe Launch's Flights Above Addiction, a flying science lesson that educates kids and parents about living free of drugs and alcohol. Here's how that unlikely pairing works: Watch this video paint a vivid picture of primary prevention as kids learn the ways that alcohol and other drugs can impact brain development and derail young dreams. Then, watch as young artists depict their own dreams for a healthy future on the fuselage of the Cessna. Yet, there’s a somber side to this event: Underneath the high wings of the Cessna, the plane memorializes young people lost to drugs or alcohol with their names and ages, listed in black.

No one ever starts out with the intention of being a drug addict.  “Mom and Dad, I want to be an addict or alcoholic, yoked to alcohol or other drugs. I want to be unemployable, destitute, at death’s doorstep.” That’s not how substance abuse (AKA “substance use disorder”) is born.

Instead, it usually begins with playful experimentation that has no harmful consequences. It may begin with a drink that lubricates the wheels of conversation or helps squash anxiety or depression. It may begin with doctor-prescribed pain pills after an injury or surgery. But pretty soon, as if the switch is flipped, drinking to excess or drugging is not by choice anymore. When you’ve turned that corner, you need to drink or take drugs so you can merely make it through the day without getting physically sick or mentally anguished. Then the other dominoes fall:  jail, dishonesty, car accidents, child neglect, job loss…the list goes on and on.

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