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Recently, a colleague and I were discussing new approaches to crime and addiction, and he said something that I hope will stay with me for the rest of my life. He said: “It’s easier to throw the can on the road by closing people down and letting someone else take care of the problem.” The challenge of kicking the addiction can is that the can has a way of getting worse as new issues of imprisonment appear as the old ones continue.

In my professional experience as a therapist for people who have addiction problems, I have learned that shutting down people often does this. It does not stop the addiction and often aggravates the problems in that person’s life.

William Sansing

There is a saying in the world of addiction recovery; you get the job done and come back until the miracle happens. For the past 25 years, I have witnessed this fact among many people. I often share that recovery is a gift.

Striving to live a recovery lifestyle is nothing more than a miracle.

In late April, on a Thursday evening in the dining room of West Point Old Waverly Golf Club, my wife and I, along with about 50 others from the Mississippi Golden Triangle area, witnessed a different miracle. . A young woman from Jackson, Mississippi, and her team from the organization End It For Good hosted an innovative community debate about the harms of drugs in our community.

In the community debate, Christina Dent made a motivating presentation on the harms of the war on drugs. Each attendee then had a minute to express their thoughts and perspectives. The only rule was to be respectful. Without arguing.

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His program is like another saying that says, “It’s very simple, but it’s one of the hardest things you can ever do.” Dent closed by asking each person to reflect on what would really reduce harm and increase the security and prosperity of everyone in our communities.

Are our efforts to punish people with addiction problems achieved the expected results or are the unintended consequences of disconnected families and unemployed citizens too great?

I can’t speak for everyone in the room, but for me it seemed like a change in the understanding of our communities represented. The dialogue that night was free of judgment and shame. Perhaps it was the beginning of healing and introspection for many. It seems to me, End It For Good strives to end us by giving these boots a go and asking what is really best for our communities.

My professional experience, as well as research on addiction, confirms that the most successful way out of addiction often includes deep relationships, a sense of purpose in life, and the healing of trauma. We have spent many decades doing the opposite through imprisonment.

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To help more people get out of addiction, we need to create communities where relationships, purpose, and healing are available to everyone. This will not only help those who suffer from addiction, but will also help prevent the next generation from going down the same harmful path. If it’s not for ourselves, we need to consider changing our approach to addiction for the sake of our children and grandchildren.

William Sansing, Ph.D., of Starkville, has 25 years of experience as an advocate for disability policy and professional in substance use disorders. She is a therapist at the Oxford Treatment Center and the Starkville Wellness Group.


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