About 50 people gathered at the Burney Vets Hall on October 12 from 5 to 8 p.m. for a “Getting Clean” forum to discuss addiction and successful recovery. The program was hosted by Shasta County Health and Human Services and Stand Against Stigma.
The program began with a reception from 5-6 p.m. During the reception, information was provided and people mixed and mingled as Alex Colvin, Kimberly Davis, and Michael Bennett sang songs in the background. (See Fun playing music at the “Getting Clean” Forum)
At 6 P.M. there was a panel discussion moderated by Marc Dadigan, a Community Education Specialist with Stand Against Stigma.
The panel consisted of James Herrington, Diane Lahey, Crystal Johnson, and Candy Stockman, MD.
Mr. Harrington is a Shasta College student majoring in family studies with a minor in human development. He lives in Burney and volunteers at the Circle of Friends Wellness Center.
Diane Lahey makes jewelry using natural gemstones and sterling silver. She volunteers at the Hill Country Clinic.
Crystal Johnson is a Community Parent Partner for the Child Abuse Prevention Center. She has a BA from Simpson University in psychology.
Dr. Stockton has been serving as Medical Director for the Shingletown Medical Center for the past eight years. She has been practicing addiction medicine for six years and provides medication assisted therapy for opiate addictions and alcohol and marijuana related dependence.
Herrington, Lahey, and Johnson shared some of their background and experience with various forms of addiction, including alcohol, food, and methamphetamines. Dr. Stockton talked about helpful lessons she has learned helping people to recover.
The panelists each gave their views on topics such as
- the difficulties of relying upon will-power alone,
- the importance of sharing and a support community,
- commitment to treatment.
- the effects of stereotyping and stigma, and
- aids to successful recovery
All three of the people in recovery shared how faith, prayer, or meditation were beneficial.
Ms. Johnson said that one of the challenges for her was creating a new positive identity.
Mr. Herrington said that he thought that education was very important. He also said that following the Wellness Recovery Action Program being taught at Circle of Friends was very helpful.
Dr. Stockton said that many people become addicted to prescription pain killers and then if these are restricted turn to illegal opiates such as heroin. When she first began treating patients she thought that proper medications would cure addiction but over time she came to realize that successful addiction therapy is much more complex.
She advised that a propensity to addiction doesn’t just go away. It is a lifetime challenge.
Referring to addiction as a disease, she compared it to diabetes. In both cases, one needs to adapt to the changes in ones personal life and environment in order to maintain one’s mental, emotional, and physical health.
The panel discussion lasted for about an hour. Many poignant stories and useful insights were shared.
Dadigan then opened the floor to questions and comments from the audience. The main questions asked concerned how family members and the community could help people to recover from addictions.
Answers involved many aspects including non-judgmental support, education, and access to treatment.
Dr. Stockton summed up her experience by saying, “In the end everyone needs love.”
The program concluded just after 7:30, but most of the people stayed until after 8 sharing further conversation and refreshment.