This year, we launched Changemakers Alliance (CALL) — the new membership-driven sister to Minnesota Women’s Press — to host statewide conversations that lead to smarter solutions-based stories about topics we care about. People in the two discussions we hosted about this month’s Addiction theme included three women from Solace Apartments in Saint Peter, who shared their insights about the Housing First model that supports people recovering from addiction.
“Opioid Reckoning” author Amy Sullivan talked about our tendency to blame individuals in unequal ways for addictive behaviors. She pointed out that women and BIPOC community members are often held to different standards when trying to address substance use disorders.
“Mothers get blamed for enabling their children, for not being tough enough and simply kicking them out,” Sullivan said. Finding and accessing the right kind of treatment remains a huge challenge, even for well-resourced families.
The 12-step program of Alcoholics Anonymous was central to the mission of the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation treatment center that opened in 1949 in Center City, Minnesota. Required sobriety was the standard, and only men were served in the first five years. Sullivan believes that Minnesota can be a leader again if we integrate a diversity of treatment and support options. People respond to different approaches based on trauma, gender, and other factors.
A CALL member talked about the cycle of sexual abuse and intergenerational trauma that led to alcoholism and opioid addiction in her upper-class family and Greater Minnesota community to “numb the pain.” A trauma therapist responded: “It is not drug or alcohol use that is the problem; that use is a [response] to an underlying problem. We are not addressing what those underlying problems are.”
John Burke, director of academic education for Finishing Trades Institute, shared that at age 14, he had been a homeless drug user. After he was released from prison, people in the trades helped him “find a much better way,” which led him into marriage and buying a house. He said:
Discussion participants suggested others who are featured in these pages. Farhia Budul is dismantling stigma in her Muslim community by talking “out loud” about her recovery so others can seek treatment they need. Melissa Hensley promotes the value of peer-supported recovery.
CALL member Carol Liege shared with us her thoughts about our tendency to label instead of understand.
We also hosted conversations with advocates about the difficulty of getting supportive housing approved because of not-in-my-backyard (NIMBY) resistance.
We are excited about the rich story development and statewide connections made with our expanding family of magazine, website, and Changemakers Alliance discussions.
Video clips from these conversations can be found at womenspress.com/addiction
BookShelf — Amy Sullivan: “Opioid Reckoning” & Destigmatizing Substance Use Disorders
Family & Home
- People Who Do Bad Things Are Not Bad People, by April Chouinard
- Label Cans, Not People, by Carol Liege
- Person-Centered Care and Peer Support, by Melissa Hensley
Healing Trauma — After Parental Rights Are Terminated
Action — A Conversation With Farhia Budul
LGBTQ+ — Faith & Fight for Trans Inclusion, a conversation with Barbara Satin
Changemakers Alliance — Celebrating Badass Minnesota Women
In the News — Naloxone Finder, Monthly Shot for Treatment
Thoughts — To Be Yourself