My Turn: Trump’s opioid comments are a slap in the face

For the Monitor
Sunday, August 13, 2017

I am in long-term recovery from a substance use disorder. I had been using drugs and alcohol since I was 10 years old. I turned to them after a series of traumatic events in early childhood.

I ended up losing everything. I lost my children, my home, my family and friendships, and countless material things. I was committing crimes to support my habit. I did things I never thought I would. It went against all my morals and values.

I began to accept the fact that my life would consist of me shuffling between rehabs and prisons. I felt alone and hopeless, and that was the moment I was finally able to commit to treatment at the Belknap County Recovery Court.

It was the best decision I’ve ever made.

It was an intense and difficult program designed over two years, which I graduated in 10 months. Today, I have a full-time job at Navigating Recovery as a recovery coach, an administrative assistant and another part-time job. I have private insurance, a new car, my own apartment and, most importantly, I’ve been able to start repairing relationships with my children and family. I’m about to take the state exam to become a certified recovery support worker.

If you ever have time to sit and talk with someone in recovery, you will find we are some of the most intelligent, talented and compassionate people. These are people who have survived and are fighting for their lives every day.

The opioid crisis comes down to the fact that we are losing people faster than we can offer them hope and help, because finding and accessing treatment in New Hampshire is incredibly difficult. Without Medicaid, I wouldn’t have been able to afford treatment and wouldn’t have gotten the help I needed.

After reading President Trump’s recent statements about the drug crisis in New Hampshire, I knew had to speak out on behalf of all Granite Staters and, in particular, those in recovery.

Trump’s comments about New Hampshire perpetuate the stigma of addiction and reveal his ignorance on the issue. Trump’s actions have been even more damaging.

Since arriving in office, he has supported a health care bill that would have slashed Medicaid and allowed states to opt out of covering substance use treatment. He proposed a budget that would cut funding for the Office of National Drug Control Policy, cut drug prevention funding by 11 percent, cut Medicaid by 47 percent, and cut substance abuse and mental health treatment by $400 million.

Trump may not remember the core values set forth by the Founding Fathers like, “we the people,” “united we stand” and “one nation under God.” Here in New Hampshire, we do.

New Hampshire has some of the lowest numbers of treatment centers in the country, but we are committed to fighting this crisis and coming together to help save our community members.

Trump’s comments are a slap in the face to everyone who is suffering from addiction or is in recovery. We are amazing people, and we will continue to fight against statements like these and prove that recovery is possible.

(Valene Colby works as a recovery coach for Navigating Recovery of the Lakes Region.)