The problems in Fayetteville reflect what has been unfolding nationwide ever since the resurgence of heroin and the soaring use of prescription painkillers such as Percocet or Vicodin. Although these drugs have claimed thousands of lives in the U.S., healthcare resources and services have failed to catch-up to meet the demands for opiate treatment programs.
There are very specific and effective ways to construct a communication so that it goes well and that both parties in the conversation feel respected and understood. Even if there is not "full agreement" in the end, positive communication skills help move a conversation along effectively and work toward building a solid foundation of respect and a platform for increasingly meaningful exchanges in the future.
Words like "addict," "abuser" and "alcoholic" are widely used indiscriminately to describe people who struggle with substance use issues and are laden with negative connotations for much of the culture. As a psychologist who treats substance use disorders I usually discourage my clients and their families from using these words to describe themselves or their loved one.
Perhaps when we fully come to terms with the reality of substance use disorders in our lives, we will move from focusing on our fascination with celebrity addictions to focusing on our own families and loved ones, and taking seriously the value of aggressively addressing this to often neglected contributor to our national health crisis.