“The opposite of addiction is connection” Johann Hari
Throughout this last summer and fall I’ve been doing a poetry class at Safe Harbor Recovery Center in Portsmouth and I’ve learned so much. I understand my own Tribe philosophy of “listen and be heard” in a way more nuanced than ever before.
When I saw the movie The Heroin Effect, directed by Michael Venn, at the Music Hall last spring I was moved to tears. Watching the harrowing struggles of those presented in the movie trying to overcome their addiction and reconnect with themselves, their life and the people in it, the depth of their grief was overwhelming. I remembered my friend Cody John Laplante, an amazing poet and artist who interviewed me and wrote an article about the work I was doing and then a few weeks later, died, alone in his room of a heroin overdose. At the end of the movie, Sandi Coyle, who opened Safe Harbor, spoke and answered questions from the audience on stage. She implored us to do whatever we could to compassionately engage those with addiction and help in some way deal with the crisis our community faces.
Johann Hari’s quote from his TED Talk says it all and provides the direction that the community, law enforcement and lawmakers need to go in. The decriminalization of addicts and the compassion coming from so many officers and precincts is a major paradigm shift in the right direction, but we all need to open our hearts more. Addicts are those among us who are more sensitive and vulnerable to the greater crisis of disconnect in our culture. No amount of social media will help us regain that connection, and no amount of punishment is going to heal the addict or our society. Compassion is the only approach that works, but it requires us to look within and deal with the disconnect within ourselves. The addict’s problem is not an individual issue, it’s a cultural one. The addict is every one of us. We all need to be heard.
I’m so grateful to the folks at Safe Harbor and the people I’ve worked with in class for sharing their stories with me. If there’s anything sacred in the world, it’s a vulnerable heart ready to listen and engage with others without judgement. In the realm of recovery these sacred hearts are in abundance, and they have so much to teach us.
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