Earlier this year, Mark Zuckerberg made a powerful contribution to the recovery community by discussing his view of addiction on Facebook. As part of his unofficial 2017 “listening tour”, the Facebook CEO weighed in on the opioid addiction epidemic facing the United States. While visiting Dayton, Ohio, Zuckerberg sat down with nearly a dozen people of varying backgrounds – all of whom had experienced the gravity of the opioid epidemic first hand.
Personal Stories of Addiction Shook Mark Zuckerberg
This experience left the Facebook CEO visibly shaken. In fact, he had to leave the room to compose himself after hearing the various rehab stories of addicts and their families.
“Mark definitely understands the gravity of the addiction crisis. You could see it in his eyes. He has a tremendous reach. By using his platform and resources to change the national conversation around addiction, he could save millions of lives.”
~ Lori Erion, Families of Addicts representative
Around 2 million Americans are either addicted to prescription medication or have abused them. Clearly Zuckerberg’s discussion of addiction comes at just the right time.
Mark Zuckerberg’s Take on Addiction and the Opioid Epidemic
Mark Zuckerberg may not be an expert on addiction or recovery, but just by taking the time to listen he gleaned some valuable insight on just how badly addiction is affecting this country and the individual families in it.
“The opioid epidemic is one of the worst public health crises we’ve faced. More people die from it today than died from AIDS at its peak, or that die from car accidents and gun violence. The rate is still growing quickly.”
~ Mark Zuckerberg on the opioid epidemic in the United States
The media guru and business owner made a few crucial points in his Facebook post earlier this year. It is encouraging to see some of these insights being discussed in public.
#1 – We Must Reduce the Stigma of Addiction
“The people I met also talked about how important it is to reduce the stigma that comes from being a recovering addict.”
~ Mark Zuckerberg
This should be item number one when it comes to addressing addiction and the opioid epidemic in this country. If someone feels stigmatized because of their struggle with substance abuse and addiction, they are much less likely to see out the help that they need. As Mr. Zuckerberg notes, having stigma for being a recovering addict does nothing good for our country or our society. We should focus on reducing this stigma so that more people can realize they need help – and realize that help is available.
#2 – We Must Reinforce the Importance of Community in Recovery
“A big part of recovery is surrounding yourself with people who are a positive influence and will help you avoid situations where you might relapse.”
~ Mark Zuckerberg
Because of the stigma of addiction and recovery, many people attempt to go through recovery on their own. While this is possible, it is not recommended. At best, this makes recovery much more difficult than it has to be. At worst, going through withdrawal without professional help can be dangerous. If you know someone who suffers from addiction or alcoholism, focus on being part of their supportive community. Going through drug rehab and recovery is incredibly difficult – sometimes having a supportive friend or family member can make all the difference. Health professionals and addiction treatment centers, too, can act as this source of community in recovery.
#3 – We Must take Prevention Measures to Avoid Addiction & Its Consequences
“Communities all across the country have a long road ahead, but as someone told me at the end, ‘I’m hopeful because we’re talking about it.’ Me too.”
~ Mark Zuckerberg
As the classic proverb says, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Mental health providers, hospitals, community centers and addiction treatment centers alike should all start focusing on how addiction can be prevented before it even begins. There are many possible ways to do this, including everything from community development to changing the way opioids are prescribed. All we have to do is take action. Talking openly about addiction and potential solutions is a great place to start.
Bonus Insight: The Facebook Post from Mark Zuckerberg Also Reflects the Surgeon General’s Report on Facing Addiction in America
Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook post on addiction in the United States was met with an outpouring of supportive comments and thoughts. For instance, one Facebook user said, “I’m thankful to see that you’re highlighting this issue. It’s a hard issue but solvable with the right effort.” Another highlighted how important it is to talk about addiction openly: “You are shining a light on some of America’s most intractable issues, and giving a voice to people who otherwise would be forgotten.”
What Now, Mr. Zuckerberg? Moving Forward on Addiction Treatment
The important part of this story is that Mark Zuckerberg took the time to listen. He may not be an expert in the psychology of addiction and substance use disorders. But he did listen to individual experiences. And that is what matters. Now that Mark Zuckerberg has spoken out on the opioid epidemic, it is time to do something about it. It is time to reduce the stigma of addiction. It is time to recognize the importance of community support in the recovery process. It is time to take preventative measures to help individuals avoid becoming addicted to drugs in the first place. If you are an addict yourself, it is time to get the professional help that you need and to make a change in your life. If you need someone to listen and to help you get on the path to recovery, do not hesitate to contact us today.