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  • Mary Burns

Updated: Nov 11, 2022

There are a couple of reasons as to why I decided to share my story. First, my son Eric always told me that he wanted to write a book about his struggle. Of course, when he said that in high school, I don’t know if he really knew how to explain his struggle. So I wrote this book to honor his memory and to give him a voice.

Second, I want people to understand how difficult it is to deal with mental illness and addiction from the perspective of the person that struggles and those who love them. It is difficult to understand that hardship if you haven’t experienced it personally. Those who have read my story so far have come away with a completely different perspective on these two issues.

Lastly, I would like this book to bring attention to the shortcomings of present model for addiction treatment. Addiction needs to be treated as a cancer is treated – treatment needs to be immediate, aggressive and long-term. Many insurance companies require the addicted individual to begin with the least invasive method, which is often outpatient treatment; which for many is ineffective. After this initial step a person’s insurance company may pay for a

30-day inpatient program. Both types of treatment are not effective for many who want to attain and maintain recovery.

Addiction is a disease of the brain and it takes longer than 30-days for the brain to heal. After my experience with my son, I believe that treatment should last at least 9-12 months. It should begin with intensive inpatient treatment for 3-4 months and then through a step-down program an individual continues treatment with the help of trained professionals while increasing their independence so that they can become productive members of society. Controlled environments, such as halfway houses, should part of this step-down process and intensive outpatient treatment should be the last step in this process not the first.

Ineffective treatment may be part of the reason that we have such an opioid epidemic in this country. We were told when Eric was in his first rehab that the relapse rate for a person with an opioid addiction was ninety percent, and yet, he was still sent home. People need to stop being required to go through this revolving door of treatment. If proper treatment was given immediately to those who want help, maybe we would have more people being able to maintain recovery and the relapse rate of 90% for an opioid addiction would be reduced along with deaths that we see from this crisis. I will always wonder if my son would still be here today if he had been given immediate, aggressive and long-term treatment as soon as he asked me for help.

Those of us who watch helplessly as someone struggles with addiction or who have lost someone to this horrible disease need to start to speak up and demand change. I want this book to begin that conversation.

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