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[ Opinion ]

Recovery Advocate Jeremy Broderick Went Viral And Here’s The Lesson

With the opioid epidemic and drug addiction crisis at an alarming level, treatment centers and rehabs will continue to play a vital role in either the success or failure of our nation’s efforts to support recovery. Unfortunately, treatment can be expensive, especially for individuals without good health insurance. The treatment industry can also be a lucrative enticement for business owners that decide to put financial gain over the well being of their patients or clients. As a publication, it’s been a difficult process to rate and “vet” treatment centers, because there are indeed a lot of bad actors in this arena. On the flip side of the coin however, there are treatment centers doing amazing life-giving work on the front lines of this battle. The bottom line, is that for many of us, it was that trip to rehab that was the foundation for getting us sober.  Wether it was that initial trip to treatment, or the seeds that were planted from that experience years earlier, there is no doubt, that the treatment industry is a crucial piece for helping people find a solution to their addiction.

Last week, an op-ed piece by recovery advocate and treatment center founder Jeremy Broderick went viral. The article, “I Voted To Make America Great Again. But Not At the Cost of American Lives” called out President Donald Trump, reminding him of his campaign promises to address the drug epidemic that claims hundreds of lives a day. Broderick’s strong, impassioned argument for prioritizing addiction got attention nationwide—including an interview with CNN.

“When the Surgeon General identified addiction as a mental illness, I felt like there was hope. Finally, instead of countless addicts and alcoholics dying every year, we had help. Although addicts still faced incredible prejudices, and the stigma of our illness, policy moved forward,” said Broderick in his article. 

By working closely with the recovery community, Broderick was able to see the incredible progress being made by grassroots organizations like Facing Addiction. He stayed current on addiction related policy and legislation.

In A Unique Position To Fight Addiction

Broderick’s perspective is unique because he’s both a member of the recovery community and a business owner who runs a recovery-related company. After getting sober and arriving in California in 2002 with literally nothing except a backpack, Broderick rebuilt his life. Windward Way, a rehab center in Costa Mesa, California, is the result of Broderick’s recovery—a beautiful, holistic place that offers patients a safe, supportive place to get sober, just like Broderick did. Broderick is passionate about recovery and sharing the message that anyone can get sober. He regularly appears at local and national advocacy events and speaks to policy makers about the importance of programs that support access to treatment. Recovery housing, ending “Just Say No” drug education, and understanding that addiction is a mental illness are all important issues for Broderick. As a business owner, however, he was dismayed by the high taxes that prevented him from doing more with Windward Way.

He said, “I paid high taxes as a business owner—up to 60 percent, some years. Those costs cut into what I could invest in my treatment center, and limited the services I could offer our clients. Although we were saving lots of lives at my facility, I envisioned what was possible, if only we had more resources.” 

Republicans, who have historically included lower taxes in their campaign platform, appealed to Broderick. He watched the 2016 presidential campaign primaries closely and listened to what each candidate specifically had to say about addiction and treatment. Although some were more vocal about the issues than others, and had better-developed plans for how to handle America’s drug crisis, Donald Trump got his attention.

There was another, important piece of the puzzle: Trump doesn’t drink, and both his father and older brother were killed by their drug and alcohol abuse. That reminded Jeremy of his own story, and the experiences of many people he’d met in recovery. 

“The fact that Trump himself was a non-drinker and non-drug user—abstinent, though not necessarily in recovery—made his words resonate strongly with me,” said Broderick. “When I voted for him in November, I believed that I was one step closer to making my dream a reality.”

At a town hall meeting in Farmington, N.H., Trump said, “We are gonna try and help the young people, and the old people, and the middle age people, and everybody that got addicted.” The campaign promises that caught Broderick’s attention haven’t come to fruition, although since his article, President Trump along with Gov. Chris Christie, have renewed a campaign promise to take on the opioid crisis and help those suffering with substance use disorder. Broderick states that he is thrilled with the news that the White House has now promised to help find a solution to combat the biggest public health crises to our country in decades.

Broderick’s article is important because it gives a voice not exclusively to the right or the left, it provides a platform for everyone affected by addiction (1 in 3 Americans) to get involved.

In his CNN interview, he pointed out that he’s not the only Trump voter who is also in recovery, and reiterated the importance of working together to help fight the drug epidemic. Drug addiction really is a bipartisan issue, because it affects everyone, said Broderick.

 “And it is a life-and-death matter. Without treatment, many addicts and alcoholics will die. With every day that passes, another life is lost. Parents lose their children, children lose their parents. Families are torn apart. It is all preventable—but we need help to make it possible for everyone.”

Broderick is one of many recovery advocates helping to make addiction a mainstream issue. By speaking up, sharing his story, and demanding that our government address this deadly epidemic, he’s helping fight the stigma of addiction, and anyone reading this article should be doing the same. America is filled with compassionate people with good intentions, and this is an issue that just needs more people to address. Because, recovery is possible, there are millions of us that are proof of that. Change is achievable, we start by educating and then demanding the changes that are needed, no matter how small the group or audience. Broderick is just one of many examples, but if everyone who had suffered from substance use disorder were to raise their hand for everyone to see, this issue would change overnight! In the mean time, we keep telling our story of hope, and we keep advocating against a stigma that addiction is a “moral failing”.

In the great words by historic anthropologist Margaret Mead:

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”