The Real Epidemic
Penny LeGate, founder of the Marah Project, with daughter Marah LeGate
The term ‘ addiction epidemic ‘ is topically saturating the media. Consequently, it’s no wonder why so much is ignored about the very real plight of those affected. It is also common for those who have not been affected to deny the reality of addiction as a ‘disease’. And even more so, the importance of ensuring available treatment options within their communities. Even if you’ve only met a handful of addiction recovery experts, there is something you have likely discovered. Specifically that many have become advocates because they had first-hand experience with the loss of a loved one from overdose.
“To think that one day I would grow up and have a child who would be lost to heroin was unthinkable.” This summarizes the personal experience bravely shared by Penny LeGate King County, WA resident and former TV host. She share this with the Heroin and Prescription Opiate Addiction Task Force panel this June.
Talking About Solutions
To highlight the fact that addiction knows no bounds, this Task Force (a panel of addiction treatment experts) met with residents of King County. They discussed what is really happening within their communities. Furthermore, as a member of this panel, LeGate also shared, “One of the main things I’m trying to do as a parent who has lost a child is to reach out to other parents who say, ‘It will never happen to me,’ and for those it does happen to, to tell them there is no shame, there is no stigma and the way that people die is hiding in the shadows and not talking about it.”¹
With this in mind, Molly Carney the Executive Director of Evergreen Treatment Services who served on this panel alongside LeGate explained what she has learned. “There is a lot of stigma around the treatment just as there is stigma around the disorder we’re trying to treat; so education, education, education is incredibly important right now.”¹ Notably, Carney has been a long-time proponent of addiction recovery and promoting the availability of treatment services. As a part of this Task Force, she is responsible for implementing drug epidemic solutions. Specifically, solutions involve redirecting the role of law enforcement officials. Their roles will shift from imprisoning addicts to instead helping those affected by addiction. This is in the hope that individuals will get the treatment that they so desperately need to achieve recovery.¹
The Task Force also supports addiction and overdose prevention initiatives. With the hope of changing the way the government addresses addiction, Brad Finegood, co-founder of the task force spoke. “We’re looking at how to get treatment medications out onto the streets and into the hands of users and their loved ones…. We are especially focused on getting increased access to the homeless populations.”²
Watch the full video: “The Heroin Epidemic: A Community Conversation ”