Sunday, June 15, 2014

Apology to a young man

I attended a conference in Cecil County last Thursday, and met a courageous young man in recovery. Part of his recovery involves taking methadone daily. He was at the conference to put a face and a voice to what recovery with methadone means.

I want to apologize to this young man as a handful of other conference attendees (who should have known better) behaved so antagonistically that he felt too intimidated to speak. No one should ever feel defined by a medication that they take, as prescribed, for a medical condition that itself shouldn't define who they are as a person. I can't imagine what the young man must have felt as he sat and listened to his treatment process and his recovery being flung in his face as "not treatment" and "not real recovery." And by people who have no healthcare credentials behind their name.

I was so glad when another conference attendee at the end of the day, after the young man had left, stood up and spoke up on behalf of the young man, his recovery, and the impact that the earlier words had had on him.

I wouldn't blame the young man if he never wants to attend another conference on substance use disorders ever again or ever utter the word "methadone" to anyone. I hope he doesn't let this episode affect his confidence in his recovery.  But I hope he will continue to show up and speak out since it will take his voice and that of many others to finally drown out those who don't understand, or choose not to understand, the science and the evidence.

Sticks and stones may break bones, but it's words that often cause the most damage. Let's use words to heal, not harm.