Editorial: Warren on the right path in battling addiction

Posted 8/26/21

Community policing and a no-shame, recovery-focused approach makes Warren a statewide leader in battling the addiction and overdose epidemic facing all municipalities.

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Editorial: Warren on the right path in battling addiction

Posted

Nobody should be forgotten or deemed beyond helping, and that is what makes the work of the East Bay Recovery Center and the Warren Prevention Coalition so important.

For anyone who has seen a friend or family member battle an addiction, or has been through one themselves — whether to illicit street drugs, alcohol, cigarettes, gambling or any other affliction of excess — knows that the difference between a happy ending of successful recovery and the worst case scenario depends on the strength of the support system around the person who is struggling.

There is no single, repeatable path to recovery for all addicts or all addictions. The path can twist, turn and take multiple detours. It can exhaust the one going through the journey and it can exasperate those supporting them on that journey. Sometimes, numerous setbacks and relapses can cause supporters to lose patience and give up on their journey, and in the saddest times, someone battling an addiction may feel like giving up on themself entirely.

It is in these moments that peer-to-peer counseling can, and does, save lives. It reaches out a hand and compels the individual to keep going on their path. It provides an example of someone who went through the same fight and came out the other side okay. It provides hope and something to aspire to.

Warren is lucky to have a police department that recognizes how important these services are to protecting some of the most vulnerable members of society. Their safe station model — which allows people to come in off the street, possibly in the middle of a particularly bad drug binge — and ask for help, with no questions asked, is community policing at its best. Warren was among the first to enact it in the state, and for that we should be proud.

For too long, society has seen those struggling with addiction as detrimental, broken humans that only served as an example as how not to behave. Their addictions were seen as moral failings indicative of a lack of strong inner character, or the result of a bad upbringing.

Today, we know that addiction is an affliction of the mind that can happen to anyone — regardless of education level, status of background or income bracket. We know that investing in drug prevention and recovery services addresses the underlying problems associated with addiction, while harsh enforcement and penalties for drug users only further alienates and stigmatizes the afflicted.

To see the local police department working hand-in-hand with recovery support personnel and a local church to remember overdose victims and celebrate recovery is a welcome sign that we are progressing along our own path of learning how to properly fight the plague of addiction within our community.

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Scott Pickering

Scott Pickering has been on the East Bay Newspapers team for more than two decades, since starting as a reporter for the Sakonnet Times. He's been editor of most of the papers, was Managing Editor of all the papers for many years, and became General Manager in 2012. Today he can be found posting to EastBayRI.com, steering news coverage, writing editorials, talking to readers, working with the sales team, collaborating on design, or helping do whatever it takes to get the papers out the door. Reach him at spickering@eastbaynewspapers.com.