This is an applause and thank you article.
For several years, we have been in touch with Hawaii's Lt. Governor James R. (Duke) Aiona, Jr. about a new approach to the immense impact alcoholism, addictions, and life-controlling problems have on the people of Hawaii. In fact, I have been writing and speaking about this impact at international, national, regional, state, and local levels for some twenty years now.
And plenty of folks are listening and acting today--particularly as participants in our International Christian Recovery Coalition (www.ChristianRecoveryCoalition.com). But the eyes of Hawaiian people needed to be brought into focus right here in Kihei, in Maui, in Hawaii!
It's not about the alcoholic or the alcoholic.
It's not about the recidivism, relapses, and revolving door treatment efforts.
It's not about the disappointments with 12 Step programs, prisons, treatment, and counseling--pertaining to the afflicted person. Society has had its fling at each one ever since Prohibition and before.
It is about the immensity of the problem and its one-on-one impact today. Regrettably, it is about the focus on the alcoholic and the addict; the focus on intervention and celebrities; the focus on imprisonment and treatment; and the focus on the center-piece--the afflicted person. But that's easy. Just look at the newspapers, the drunk driving citations, the prison records, the treatment and recovery programs, and the crime reports.
The real impact is the impact on all society, and all its members and activities--the impact on: 1) Families. 2) Parents. 3) Siblings. 4) Children. 5) Friends. 6) Churches. 7) Schools. 8) Unions. 9) Employers. 10) Employees. 11) Partners. 12) Fellow-workers. 13) Drivers and passengers. 14) Police. 15) Emergency rooms. 16) Mental wards. 17) Jails. 18) Prisons. 19) Doctors. 20) Pastors and priests. 21) Hospitals. 22) Social workers. 23) Treatment efforts. 24) Recovery fellowships. 25) Military. 26) Veterans. 27) Government agencies. 28) Non-profit agencies. 29) Budgets. 30) Appropriations. 31) Grants. 32) Violence. 33) Crime. 34) Business establishments. 35) Sports. 36) Colleges and universities. 37) Insurance companies. 38) Highway and public safety; and an unaware, un-challenged, uninformed public which does not see the forest and often sees only a tree--the drunk in the living room or jail.
The solution: There are many. They start with an alcoholic or addict who really wants to stop. But today the unexamined solution is the solution as to how the affected others can DO something. Not just the time-worn referrals, interventions, anonymous groups, rehabs, and jails. What can the public--the aforementioned 38 groups (and more) do to end the grief, the anxiety, the financial burden, the emotional hurt, the social consequences, the overwhelming damage.
Is it enough to say, "Something ought to be done" and then "But I don't know what."
Here's what we proposed to a Duke Aiona campaign person who really listened!
1. Start "talking story" with specific affected people--parents, uncles, business owners, school teachers, union members, business owners, girl friends, boy friends, wives, priests, doctors, police, ambulance drivers, sergeants, veterans, jailers, and, yes, even those operating treatment, counseling, and 12 Step efforts. Talk to them. Find out where they are hurt. Find out how little help they are receiving. Find out what they've tried. Find out what they suggest.
2. Start holding events--NOW. These can be televised and reported coverage of the talking story efforts. They can be held at a union, a military facility, a veterans facility, a rehab, a church, a business, a school, a hospital, a community center, a service club, a senior group. Not for publicity, but to assure full public expression and input. To let the public know someone cares!
3. Establish a commission to work on the problem - NOW. Not just the usual "recovery month" press releases, but a gathering of people who know the problem, are concerned with the solution, and have the expertise to bring some careful examination to the table. Who? A judge. A cop. A drunk. An addict. A minister. A teacher. A physician. A social worker. A claims adjuster. And on and on. They can be university deans, bishops, public officials, medical leaders, bankers, union leaders, military leaders, convicts, alcoholics, and so on. No limit on talent--just limit entrenched folks who are still intent on grinding old axes and protecting old ideas.
4. Can Duke and his team start this now? After following Duke around for about 4 years, I thought so. Then the campaign started. And I couldn't seem to reach anyone but those who requested I hold up a sign, give a coffee klatch, or make a phone call. The recipients just didn't seem to want to tear themselves away from concerns about taxes, schools, jobs, energy, and spending. But that's the cry of all politicians. What the public could understand, I have said, is that they know where they are hurting PERSONALLY. They know who is in prison, who is in the hospital, who just had an overdose, whose kids have been abandoned, who just shot up on drugs, who has been in and out of rehabs 20 times, who plays the game of rationalization and denial, and who just doesn't care about the impact of the excesses that produce the damage.
5. Today, an Aiona leader responded. He listened patiently. He resonated with my comments that Duke Aiona is a man of compassion, experience, heart, expertise, and familiarity with Hawaii at the grass roots level. I have the feeling the public will see Duke outrun, outhink, outspeak, and outdo his opponents for the simple reason that he has listened to my plea and done something about it.
Thanks to Duke Aiona--a man who loves God, family, and Hawaii. A man who can touch the hearts of people who never knew anyone understood about their kid, their boyfriend, their grandparents, their church, their teacher, their grief, their anxiety, or their business and how much the alcoholism and addiction of someone else was hitting them square between the eyes, hurting them, and leaving them seemingly without defense.
God Bless, Dick B., firstname.lastname@example.org; www.dickb.com