Organizations come together to discuss addiction epidemic

Date Published: 
July 17, 2015

Connections Community Support Programs made a presentation to the Sussex County Action Prevention Coalition’s (SCAPC’s) Seaford Chapter at its monthly meeting last week.

SCAPC is a nonprofit organization with the mission “to help individuals and families who are struggling with addictions, substance abuse and other life-related problems get the help they need through collaborating community resources and services, and coordinating opportunities that promotes positive choices that lead to healthy lifestyles and wholeness.”

Adam Taylor, Connections public relations specialist, discussed the addiction epidemic that is plaguing the country with an audience of approximately 40 community members.

Taylor, a recovering heroin addict himself, said that he was in active addiction between the ages of 14 and 26.

“It almost killed me several times,” he said. “In my active addiction in heroin, I almost died. My parents prepared for my death. Drug counselors told them they didn’t think I was going to make it.”

Taylor was able to get clean in 1988. However, after a traumatic event, he relapsed with prescription painkillers and bourbon, that time while he had a wife and two kids.

“I was physically there for everything, but I wasn’t emotionally there,” he said of that time in his life.

Taylor said his wakeup moment came when he called someone to arrange to give them a check, only to learn that he had already paid them the money. And, worse, that his kids were in the car with him and he had no memory of the transaction.

“They told me my kids were in the car… I was put on this planet to physically harm and hospitalize anyone who endangered my kids. There was nobody on the planet hurting my kids but me… I was the only threat.”

After that incident, Taylor called a rehabilitation facility, and he has been clean and sober since 2011.

“I’m doing this to not die,” he said, “to get back into super-dadness. I change the way I think… Things that used to thrill me, I now view as things that endanger me. I’ve gone from my own worst enemy to my own best friend.”

One attendee asked Taylor, “How do you stay clean?”

“The most important thing I do is go to group support meetings. By my nature, I am prone to isolation and I’m pretty arrogant. I have the ability to forget I have this affliction,” he said. “There are many ways to get sober. I need to go all the time to stay sharp.”

Taylor joined Connections in November of 2014, after a career in journalism. Connections — one of the largest nonprofits in the state — serves approximately 35,000 people statewide. Along with addiction treatment, Connections offers a variety of help to those in need, including job programs and housing services.

Taylor also discussed his thoughts on how the heroin epidemic grew into the problem that it is today.

“I thought this was just another heroin spike, but I don’t think that’s true anymore,” he said. “It’s now in the cities and in rural towns… The body count is rising, and I think it’s here to stay.”

Taylor said that governmental agencies’ actions are extremely conflicted, which does not help address the issue.

“At the same time one federal agency [Center for Disease Control] is saying, ‘It’s the worst crisis we’ve ever seen,’ the [Federal Drug Administration] continues to approve new powerful time-release narcotics, which I think is completely insane.”

Taylor said that, while he’s not unsympathetic to those who have legitimate chronic pain, “For the life of me, I don’t understand the need for time-release opiates.”

Addiction rate soared in the 1990s, according to Taylor, with new prescription pills hitting the market, and “Addicts started modifying them.”

“Government regulations started making the pharmaceutical companies reformulate these pills to make it harder to do that, which was somewhat successful, I guess,” he said, noting some pressure was also put on the doctors prescribing the medications.

Street prices soared, leading to an influx of other opiate options.

“The heroin traffickers saw a business opportunity and flooded the market with cheap heroin after a Percocet 30 became $30 a pill. And that explains our heroin epidemic today.”

Taylor said that — while there are organizations at the local level, such as SCAPC, and at the national level, including the FED UP! Coalition, whose mission is “to create one voice calling for an end to the epidemic of addiction and overdose deaths attributed to opioids (including heroin) and other prescription drugs” — the problem still is not getting the attention it needs.

“I’m stunned of the silent response, the crickets we hear… I really do think this is not getting the attention it deserves,” he said. “More people are dying of this than gun violence. We hear a lot about that. More people are dying of this than car accidents. We hear a lot about that.

“As far as I’m concerned, compared to the carnage we see all the time… Crickets, in my opinion.”

SCAPC Chairman Jim Martin said the group needs to focus on its mission and the positive things happening, to help make a difference when it comes to addiction in their communities.

“This morning I woke up and I literally couldn’t get out of bed. I knew I had to take a shower, I had to shave, I had to put my clothes on, but at 5:30 in the morning, I just wasn’t up for another day of the devastation that is out there in our communities. It seems like every day there’s a new story — someone’s life is destroyed. It’s just so upsetting.

“I do know there are problem-solvers out there in our county that are trying their hardest to get something going for Sussex County… and the fact that you are all here,” he said, is such a positive.

For more information about Connections, call 1-866-477-5345 or visit www.connectionscsp.org. The next SCAPC meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, Aug. 4, at 10 a.m. at the Stein Highway Church of God’s Lighted Pathway Family Life Center, located at 425 E. Stein Highway in Seaford. All are encouraged to attend. To learn more about SCAPC, visit www.facebook.com/pages/Sussex-County-Action-Prevention-Coalition/9748211....