“Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in healthcare is the most shocking and inhumane.” Martin Luther King, Jr. – March 25, 1966
One of the first memories of my mother was her watching the March on Washington. When it came time for Martin Luther King Jr. to deliver his “I Have a Dream” speech, she was fixated on his every word with tears rolling down her face.
I remember as a little girl asking, “What is wrong?” as I was very worried as my mother was crying. That is when for the first time my mother explained inequality, racism, and injustice. I remember being confused and asking, “But why?” And now, over 50 years later I am still confused and asking, “But Why?”
While I have seen many advances in the field of addictions and recovery over the last 25 years, it saddens me that there is still inequality and injustice in healthcare, especially in regards to addictions.
For example, while recent studies continue to support that “addiction can be defined as a chronic, relapsing brain disease”, why is there still a stigma attached with the diagnosis of an addiction? This stigma and the resulting prejudice can be seen in not only the general population but also in service providers as stated by recent studies.
And while studies continue to show that the relapse rates for drug addiction are very similar to those of other chronic diseases like diabetes, hypertension, or asthma, why is relapse from drug addiction seen as a “failure of treatment” and not just treated with renewed intervention like we do with other chronic diseases with no label of ‘failure” attached?
And why do insurance companies expect people with addictions to be “fixed” after a short stay in rehab, refusing to pay for aftercare while paying for continued care for persons with other chronic, relapsing brain diseases?
And why when a person decides to seek treatment for their addiction, they can’t start treatment because there are no beds available at the facility, while there are beds available for rehabilitation for other chronic, relapsing brain diseases like multiple sclerosis?
And why is it when a person goes to jail for a drug arrest who is suffering from both a drug addiction and diabetes, that they receive treatment for their diabetes only while their disease of drug addiction is often left untreated? Why do we as a country then complain about the “revolving door” of drug arrests while being too blind to see that making drug treatment part of the prison healthcare system would help to break this cycle?
Like Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., I too have a dream. My dream is to see all persons with addictions treated without stigma in our healthcare system just like those with other chronic brain diseases. I have a dream that all persons who relapse will see their relapse as a learning experience and resume treatment without stigma. I have a dream that insurance companies will realize that not all of us can be “fixed” after one hospital visit & pay for continued care as needed just like they do for other chronic brain diseases. I have a dream that every person seeking care will find treatment and/or a bed available without delay. I have a dream that every person in jail who suffers from addictions will have treatment available to them in the prison health care system. I have a dream that one day addictions will be viewed without stigma and everyone that seeks treatment from our health care system can do so as easily as seeking treatment for the common cold.
Now, how can I make this dream happen? I use my words to speak out. I advocate for those that don’t have a voice and I vote.
We can also help to change the world everyday by voting with our wallets, as every time we purchase or support an item or cause, we are voting for that item or cause. And while we can vote with our voices everyday by choosing kind words and actions over hate, we still need to vote at the booths to say no to injustice.
What are the issues you are voting for this Election Day? Is it for healthcare? Is it for sensible gun control? Is it to save the environment? Is it for prison reform? Is it to end poverty, homelessness, or hunger? Is it to fight racism and hate? Or are you like me, voting for all of the above? Vote your values, vote your causes, vote for the things that matter to you; whatever your politics are.
Why is a health coach telling you to vote? Because it’s good for your health as its empowering, as its only at the polls that each one of us has the same power. Don’t sit at home and complain about the state of our country, go out to vote and make the world better, one vote at a time. And its good for your health too!
Health and Happiness,
Mary P. Cheney, CHC