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Opinion: We have to stop discriminating against addicts

HelenJones-Kelley is executive director of Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services (ADAMHS) of Montgomery County. Here’s what she had to say about the opioid epidemic in the Miami Valley:

In a recovered community, the big thing would be that the community understands the needs of people who are dealing with brain illness – really having compassion for one another. We are often intolerant of people who are on a recovery pathway. A recovered community would have compassion.

» UNMATCHED COVERAGE: 10 change makers weigh in: How can Dayton recover from opioid crisis?

People who recidivate get terminated from their jobs. People who don’t follow their doctor’s plans to eat right and lose weight, or fight their diabetes, don’t lose their jobs. But people who suffer from the same kind of illness, a brain illness that keeps people from following the plan that would lead to their cure or recovery, are discriminated against.

» Opinion: Dayton needs to combat drug use stigma, loneliness

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So we would be building on one another’s strengths, rather than focusing on people’s weaknesses. We would be a community that offers housing, employment and a coordinated system of care that would help people be successful.

The big tagline at our agency is “Recovery is beautiful.” You can live a successful life and contribute to society – that is the community we would all be living in.

Jones-Kelley is executive director of Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services (ADAMHS) of Montgomery County.

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