It is my professional opinion that a person does not just develop an addiction to drugs and or alcohol. In my professional experience, the addiction is a symptom to an underlying mental health condition. It seems that in our society identifying as an alcoholic or addict has less of a negative reaction than of an individual with a mental health diagnosis such as bipolar disorder or depression.

We have an epidemic in our community, our state and our country. According to information provided by Ohio Mental Health Addiction Services, in 2016 4,050 Ohio residents died from an unintentional drug overdose. Fentanyl and related drugs were involved in 58.2 percent (2,357) of all unintentional drug overdose deaths in 2016. Alcohol use disorder is the leading type of substance use disorder in Ohio. On average 629,000 Ohioans aged 12 and older had an alcohol disorder within the past year. Mental health and addiction disorders are more common than diabetes or heart disease. They are just as treatable. Providing education, increasing awareness, discussing treatment and offering community supports can benefit individuals, families and the entire community.

There is that old saying it takes a village to raise a child. There is truth to that. No one should be alone, and no one should face addiction or mental health alone. What I see happening is that the stigma of mental health prevents people from reaching out and asking for help. The stigma prevents parents from taking the steps necessary to get their child the help they truly need. When a child chooses to use drugs and or alcohol more than one time that is not experimenting. It is important to ask the question why? “Experimenting” what? All behaviors have a motive, and a person’s choice to seek out and or use is motivated by something. It is important that we start taking the time to learn, or understand the reason why, the “why” to a person choosing to use drugs and or alcohol. Recovery requires an entire community. We as a community need to create a culture where people feel comfortable asking for help and receiving help without judgment.