On 9/17/15, the Bethlehem Recovery Center hosted renowned speaker Delbert Boone to lead a discussion focused on helping those who encounter addiction. New Vitae President and CEO, Judith Yanacek, and Marketing Coordinator Damon McCaulley were fortunate to be in attendance for this event. Mr. Boone is an authority on addiction and criminal behavior as well as an expert on the social ramifications associated with addiction. He spoke about his personal life, including his four stays in the penal system, his thirteen felony convictions, and his 39 years of clean and sober living. Throughout the evening, Mr. Boone elaborated on the seven “components” of addiction, including awareness, education, policy, identification, intervention, referral, and research. Boone utilized the session to explore each of these components, relating each to the process of addiction and personalizing the concepts to his own experiences with substance use.
He started the conversation reviewing the importance of awareness. Awareness is key to acknowledging the challenges associated with addictive behavior. Mr. Boone suggested that most people tend to minimize the signs of addiction and may not be aware that a friend or colleague is experiencing challenges that require help. He identified the contradictions associated with addiction and the legal system, particularly that people tend to seek recovery services initially only because of legal pressures, but they may not be ready to fully engage in the services. The discussion then focused on the importance of education. Addictions were identified as potentially fatal, with most people not receiving the supportive assistance they require. Instead of demonizing substances, frank talk and education for various social groups empower people to make healthy choices.
Boone also proposes a strong policy component to recovery services. Advocating for social change and supporting the view of addiction as both a social problem and an illness provides a starting point to further the discussion. Policies that are enacted across our society form the basis for a change in how we view the recovery process, and impacts our ability to identify family members, peers, and neighbors who are encountering challenges with substance use. Mr. Boone specifically identified his support of groups like the Student Assistance Program, which uses specially trained staff in schools to identify students who may be experiencing difficulties with substance use. The Student Assistance Program also serves as an excellent example of intervention, or taking action when a person is identified as possibly having a drug or alcohol problem. Helping the individual to seek personalized services and encouraging their continued work through such programs is invaluable.
Referral, Boone reports, is a powerful step that unlocks the opportunities associated with peer to peer and other types of helpful support. It is estimated that 30% of those individuals who encounter addictions may also experience a behavioral health diagnosis. Finding supports that work can make the difference between success and continued difficulties. The discussion closed with a review of the importance of research within the field of addictions. Boone emphasized that continued study, statistics, and data help the field advance and create opportunities for new recovery supports. Mr. Boone noted a solid trend that offers hope to those challenged with recovery from addiction: if a person can avoid using substances for a period of two years, approximately 80% of those people can maintain their sobriety throughout their lifetime. The well-known adage, “Fake it until you make it,” remains true in the field today.
It was a genuine honor to meet Mr. Boone and to share in the conversations related to addiction and recovery. New Vitae is looking forward to continuing the discussion in upcoming complimentary trainings and discussion. New Vitae Wellness and Recovery Center has certified addiction counselors on staff and offer dual diagnosis services. If you or someone you know is challenged by behavioral health or addiction challenges, please reach out to New Vitae or another trusted provider. Special thanks to Mr. Boone and the Bethlehem Recovery Center for the empowering discussion!