BY VICTOR HOSFELD, a member of Young Leaders United

It was a privilege to attend the  recent Young Leaders United luncheon. I met new people, learned about new initiatives and gained insight into engaging with our community through United Way.  Sam Price of 1016 Recovery Network and several of his staff spoke about substance abuse.  They introduced the community approach to wellness and recovery, consisting of 4 major areas – wellness and prevention, outreach and early intervention, treatment, and recovery support.  Two of the speakers shared their incredible journeys.  These individuals not only serve as an inspiration to all of us, but as beacons of hope for those struggling with addiction.  Sam shared that of those individuals that need help, 90% are not engaged in recovery.  People requiring help are all around us.  They are our friends, neighbors, co-workers, acquaintances and family members.

The solution to substance abuse in our community is complex, and includes many philosophies including sociology, psychology, science, healthcare, technology, finance, and law enforcement.  The subject of substance abuse challenges our social norms and our understanding of disease.  We were asked to imagine that a co-worker arrived late to work one day, and their performance also suffered.  If you were to ask this co-worker if everything was alright, and they responded with, “I was up all with my spouse as they are very ill because of chemotherapy.” Would you have an equal level of compassion and acceptance, if the response was “I was up all night with my spouse who was detoxing due to alcoholism?”  Stories from the speakers were thought provoking and inspiring.  I walked away from the luncheon with a couple of key realizations.  First, substance abuse does not affect one specific area of our community . Second, wellness and recovery is not a single event, such as going to rehab, but rather a life-long process which requires the support of our community.

At this event, I had the fortune of meeting several new Young Leaders, many with diverse backgrounds, talents, and social and professional networks, woven with a common thread to make this the very best community it can be.