Nothing may be more symbolic of why there is an addiction epidemic in Maine than the recent governor’s summit on that subject.

Held behind closed doors and with papered windows, no less, with no public or press involvement, this meeting of very limited professional capacity set about to direct the policy in addressing the epidemic. Unknowingly, whether the best of intentions were involved, this meeting perpetuated an eight-decade-long method of addressing addiction with its very limited results.

To be sure this is not an easy subject to discuss. We made it so through a misunderstanding of addiction and stigmatizing both the person and the disease. This has become a major obstacle to recovery to all those involved.

Let’s face it, the symptoms of any disease might be described as ugly. Cancer, stroke, heart disease, epilepsy, AIDS and many others all have their ugliness. Addiction is no different. We have improved the treatment and outcome of many diseases through increased knowledge of the causes and an open dialogue regarding them. Yet we continue to hide addiction from this approach.

Let’s bring addiction out of the shadows. Let’s open those closed doors and papered windows and through the knowledge we have gained about addiction via research begin an open dialogue that involves the public, the press, the medical establishment and, most importantly, those affected by addiction, directly or not.

Let’s close the doors on an antiquated approach that has delivered almost none of the results we’re looking for.

Addiction is very public in its untreated symptoms. Recovery should be too.

Robert Creamer


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