Rehab, Heal Thy Self
Butler County, Ohio has been hard hit by heroin and opiates. Sheriff, Richard K Jones has set a strange policy stating that his staff won’t carry narcan, the life saving intervention which will reverse an opiate overdose. This is an ethical can of worms that very likely won’t be discussed. It’s very easy to vilify this man as heartless and shaming, that’s fair. What’s strange is when one takes a look at this fro a broader view. How could someone who has dedicated themselves to public protection reject a lifesaving intervention? Head scratching to say the lest. The rehab universe is harshly judging this man with no measure of self examination. Get thee to a nunnery rehabbers.
The rehab industry is largely dominated by 12 step recovery. That’s a great process for many, and not for many. 12 step life is based on an act of providence and on 1930s folk lore that is so appealing to a nation rife with an endless God discussion and entire regions of the country looking to impose their belief on others. No wonder we love it so much. The trouble comes in when we take a look at the science and question the goals and ethics of treatment.
Factually there are many things that can help the opiate crisis. Maintainence drugs cause the death rate to fall like a rock but they are overwhelming rejected by the ruling class of the recovery culture. I have for years heard “do you allow suboxone”? That’s a strange question. Do I “allow” it? It’s a medical intervention and I’m not a doctor, it’s not for me to allow or not, who am I to judge. As a social worker my role and purpose is varied but is not medical. I hear it all the time “we don’t allow that medication”. That’s a felony. Practicing medicine without a license should be a foundational no no and yet it’s vastly accepted.
The outcry from the recovery community regarding this story is the equivalent of “I’m not a racist, my best friend is black”. Either one believe in life saving interventions or they don’t. It’s not really the kind of thing with a range. Methadone, vivitrol, and suboxone save lives. States with medicinal cannabis have 25% fewer overdose deaths than states without, safe injection facilities also save lives. Are we so superior to this man’s abhorrent attitude and behavior? Maybe this is an opportunity to look in the mirror and look deeply. Supporting various points of entry and stabilization doesn’t diminish ones personal brand of recovery but evangelical need to coerce or destroy does. Plain and simple, it’s wrong. It’s as wrong as this sheriff.
High Sobriety has taken harsh criticism as a scam, a gimmick, a money making scheme. Our true intention is to serve a marginalized population who hasn’t made it in the current paradigm of addiction treatment offerings. We find it unacceptable that an abysmal rate of recovery and growing body count isn’t facilitating a national conversation asking the simple questions “what are we doing wrong and how can we do better?” If we ignore a broader offering of treatment options because of a moral objection we are in the same tent as sheriff Jones.
Author: Joe Schrank, Editor-in-Chief