By Marianne Clyde
With the continual string of revelations about Harvey Weinstein’s sexual escapades and offenses, everyone seems horrified that these things happened and amazed that no one spoke up. We are surprised, shocked and amazed when all of our friends post #Metoo, almost as if we didn’t realized this addictive behavior existed.
Continuous politicizing of things as precious and personal as race, grief, immigration and healthcare, brings much more reactivity, anger and blame than actual problem solving with wisdom and compassion. People are pitted against one another, as they remain stuck to a list of bullet points and political correctness.
The experience of being shaken to the bone when a friend looks you in the eye, heartbroken, devastated and begging for answers after having lost a son, cousin, or mother to the monstrous opioid epidemic, is difficult to erase from your mind.
What the experts think
What can we do, as a society to address these heartbreaking situations? Of course there are legislative fixes, but you really can legislate morality. Reverend Dr. Wesley Shortridge, whose Bealeton, VA church welcomes and counsels addicts, pointed out that never in our history has making drugs illegal ever stopped their use. A report from Stanford University says, “The government has, to no avail, spent countless billions of dollars in efforts to eradicate the supply of drugs. Efforts of interdiction and law enforcement have not been met with decreases in the availability of drugs in America. Apart from being highly costly, drug law enforcement has been counterproductive.”
As I speak to various professionals, I find that most agree that focusing on the problem itself is not the solution. What you focus on increases. Focusing on demonizing substances or people only pits people against each other, causes more division, and drives victims into the shadows due to shame and fear.
Lantie Jorandby, MD, Board Certified Psychiatrist, specializing in addictions says that there are a couple of things that drive addiction [no matter whether the addiction is sexual, emotional or substance driven]. One thing is our cultural belief that “no one should have pain.” That belief drives us to eradicate the symptoms first, without seeking the origin of the pain. She says, “Our society has lost our spirituality, and what it means to be grateful and giving. Without meaning in our lives, whether that comes from faith, volunteer work, family, music, nature, etc., then we will be more susceptible to things like substances [and other addictive behaviors.]
She is clearly on board with Medically Assisted Treatment, having spent time in suboxone and methadone clinics in the VA system. She is also in favor of “clear and careful guidelines at the medical/administrative level to taper people off opiates,” as she has witnessed “egregious over prescribing by mostly well meaning doctors…who sometimes get caught up in the trap of being threatened by patients when they try to take them off opiates.”
While also in favor of Medically Assisted treatment, coupled with therapy, Carolyn Castro-Donlan, Ph.D., agrees that the problem often originates with lack of education in our communities, as well as in the empty place within us. Having worked with addictions since the 80’s, Castro-Donlan also sees a clear need for “prescription monitoring across state lines to be universal,” because that’s often how access to meds is made available, jumping from doctor to doctor.
Education in our schools and to our communities about what addiction looks like, warning signs, and reducing stigma is also a passion of Sallie Morgan, Executive Director of the Mental Health Association in Fauquier County, Virginia. She says that, “No one person or organization owns the problem and can come up with a solution by themselves.” Pilot programs in the schools are a good place to start. Morgan asserts, “the average age of first use is 13, and the surgeon general says that at that age, there is a 70% risk of addiction within 5 years.”
What can be done now
So, while legislation might be able to help in certain areas, all seem to agree that along side of treatment, community education in all areas is important to decrease stigma, so victims of drug use, sexual assault, or other addictive tendencies are willing and able to find help. But more that anything else, we need to build stronger, more stable citizens, beginning in our schools.
Training in mindfulness principles such as meditation, healthy coping mechanisms, and constructive communication techniques are vital to solve our societal problems at their core. Reaction to stress, filling a void that is felt within, knowing our true value and connection to something bigger than ourselves begin with our thoughts and can be changed at that level, encouraging people to seek healthier outlets for stress relief in any area. These things are necessary in successful treatment alongside of any regulations that might be passed, but they are also vital for prevention.
Marianne Clyde is an expert in Mental Health in the workplace. Speaking to businesses and associations about empowerment, team building and relationship networking, she is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, in practice for over 27 years, energizing speaker and dauntless world traveller. She lived in Japan for over 8 years and has spent time in at least 20 developing countries, teaching about recovery from trauma, personal empowerment and interpersonal relationships.
She has met with child soldiers, amputees and rebel army leaders in Sierra Leone, visited with victims of rape as a weapon of war in the Democratic Republic of Congo, taught doctoral students in Afghanistan about the effects of stress on mental health and spoken to large gatherings in Pakistan after visiting with earthquake victims in the Northwest Frontier. After partnering with the former Ambassador from Malawi to Japan, to establish village maize gardens and other projects, the Ambassador had this to say, “Marianne is an excellent trauma counselor, networker, change agent and revolutionary. Through her initiatives, the poor children and women of Malawi have realized new lives. Child mortality has been mitigated by the provision of clean borehole water. Hospitals are no longer overcrowded by children who were admitted due to hookworms. School going rates have doubled as no child is soaked while at school. In return Malawian women call Marianne ANAPHIRI meaning a woman from the great clan.”
She has written and published numerous articles, appeared on radio and television worldwide, commenting on topics ranging from gun violence to having a happy marriage. Host and producer of her own TV shows, she has also hosted a call in radio show and has produced Moments of Mindfulness Meditation CD.
After launching 2 best-selling books, Peaceful Parenting: 10 Essential Principles and Un-Leashed: Practical Steps to Get Your Life Unstuck, she has now released her most powerful book to date, Zentivity™: How to Eliminate Chaos, Stress and Discontent in Your Workplace. As chaos, reactivity and polarization reign, whether your workplace is in politics, business or home, she recognizes and advocates for mental health in the workplace. She encourages readers to establish a strong internal locus of control, so as not to get knocked off balance by the winds of opinion, changes in the economy or upheaval in politics. Only then, she asserts, can you truly make the changes that need to be made. Only then, can you even begin to be the leader you are called to be.
Marianne is the founder of the Marianne Clyde Center for Holistic Psychotherapy, in Warrenton, VA, winner of the 2017 Best of Warrenton award, and also the founder of Be the Change Foundation empowering and equipping women in need to build successful home-based businesses.