I had the tremendous opportunity to meet with Diane Morris from Alliance Counseling Center this week. The office is located at 1422 Main Street in Hellertown, which is almost directly across the street from Crossroads Hotel. This office provides therapy for teens & adults; individuals, couples and groups. They offer a variety of services and have assembled a team that specializes in certain therapies. Just to name a few, they offer grief counseling, couples counseling, anger management, and what I wanted to seek more information about, drug counseling.
Like many other areas in the United States, Hellertown has been hit pretty hard with what some are calling a “drug epidemic”. In regards to drug treatment, Alliance Counseling Center is an outpatient treatment facility. Often times, this is the final step in the process. An individual should have gone through detox, inpatient, and intensive outpatient before walking through Alliance’s door. Diane and I touched on an array of topics. It seems that the conversation always came back to these two points: environment and fixing the underlying problem.
Environment plays a huge role in recovery. A great example of this occurred during the Vietnam War. Before the War, the typical soldier had only casual experience with hard drugs, and less than 1% had ever been addicted to narcotics. But once in Vietnam, those number soared to about half of the soldiers tried narcotics, and 20% became addicted. A follow-up 8-12 months later showed that the numbers reverted back to the norm, only 1%. What changed? The environment. People are incredibly sensitive to the environment and the culture- to the norms and expectations of the communities they are in. Remove them from that and the individual could potentially flourish.
The second topic that we discussed at length was improving the underlying problem. People get addicted to drugs for a wide range of reasons. Some people have psychiatric illnesses that contribute to their drug addiction. For an issue like depression, if an individual does not have a sense of purpose in life or positive relationships, they may never be fully recovered. Other people may get addicted because they have limited responsibilities and that’s the best option available to them. If they had a better option available, they may go ahead and choose that option. After speaking with Diane and getting a sense of what her business is about, it all finally clicked. If you look up the word alliance in the dictionary, you will see that it means “a relationship based on an affinity in interests, nature, or qualities”. That is exactly what they set out to do here, build relationships with their clients that will better those involved. When you use drugs, you disconnect from the rest of the world. Here at alliance, they focus on the opposite: re-connecting you with your loved one and the rest of world!
Drug abuse has hit extremely close to home for me. A few years ago I was waiting for a childhood friend to arrive at the gym I was working at. He was training for an adventure race and needed a little guidance. I saw I had a missed call from my mother and listened to the voicemail. She didn’t say what was going on but, judging by her voice, I knew something was not right. A terrible feeling overcame me. My heart literally sunk. My mind went immediately to my brother. I called her back and then heard these terrible words: "he's gone Chris. Ryan is gone". My older brother was found dead at the age of 29. The cause of death: apparent drug overdose.
Today, October 16th, my older brother would have been 32 years old. Happy Birthday Ryan!