Readers’ thoughts: substance abuse in real life

You spoke, we listened. Starting a conversation on the impact of addiction, and potential responses.

Phillip Fiuty, right, an outreach worker with the Santa Fe Mountain Center, demonstrates how to assemble the overdose reversal drug Naloxone before giving out free doses of the drug to people in Española, New Mexico, as part of a mobile needle exchange program on July 20, 2016. (Photo by Leah Todd, Solutions Journalism Network)

Over the past few weeks, as our stories about drug addiction and promising responses published across northern New Mexico and southern Colorado, we asked how you are affected by addiction in your own life, and what you think can be done about it.

Here are a few highlights:

How are you affected by substance abuse and addiction?

“Im in recovery myself, 9 months sober and supporting my best friend, also in recovery. Im shocked at the mishaps and red tape my friend is enduring in his struggles to get into effective professional treatment. We’re both amazed by the daily struggle navigating a society that uses and drinks incessantly. It’s truly a jungle.”
“I’ve been [affected] on both sides of the issue. I’ve had my home /garage broken into, had medication stolen and had my doctor decrease my medication, even though I have a permanent progressive condition and have no criminal record or record of instances of addiction [of] abuse. I’m paying for others’ mistakes and it’s not right or fair. Instead, we need tools and resources for addicts and their [families].We also need to take…measures that include education and healthy activities for community members. I’d be happy to get involved in any way possible.”
“My family has a history of alcoholism going back 3–4 generations. Drug use by my uncles. The alcoholism painted a very dull and depressing childhood that has definetely affected me negatively. I have problems relating with others in a healthy and normal manner. I never had any real good role models or mentors growing up. I am now 52 and still very limited in my social interaction and life coping skills. Even so I am determined to work towards my own version of overcoming and making important contributions. There’s always hope for a brighter tomorow.”
“I have a relative who has an addiction and it’s a source of great pain to everyone. I wonder how to reach him. What we could try.”

What is an effective way of dealing with addiction and its effect on your community?

“Community. Community coming together to help one another without judgements or conditions. Going to NA meetings. Reaching out for others who identify. Service. Helping others. Creating and inviting others to co-create. Inclusion. Patience.”
“Educating kids and youth in a realistic way. Also providing healthy alternatives. There should be more serious consequences for robberies, stealing, breaking and entering and we need to do more to protect ourselves. Judges who keep setting criminals lose should be [held] accountable or at least exposed, but that doesn’t happen here.”
“Well we have a growing Opiate addiction epidemic in the San Luis Valley. An effective way of dealing with this has been to talk about harm reduction strategies, and spreading the word about our methadone program. In my opinion, education, and information are powerful tools for family members of people addicted, and for the community as well.”
“Educating the youth on the destructiveness.”

Thank you to everyone who shared stories with us. We will continue to talk with readers over the next few months. This month, we want to know your experiences with education in your community:

What makes you mad about your school, or your child’s school, today? How can the school improve? Text “school” to 505–705–8146 to get started, and you’ll be invited to share some thoughts via your cell phone. It’s all anonymous.


Leah Todd

Small Towns, Big Change reporter

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