Addiction and drug use in our community

Hope Beelman, IV Leader Editor

Although people are aware of the widespread epidemic of opioid addiction and drug use, it may be difficult to know that it hits extremely close to home in the Illinois Valley. The participants of the second discussion of Eric Eyre’s “Death in Mud Lick” touched on this topic on Sept. 29 during the One Book, One College event.

“That’s why it’s so insidious. You can be nominally functional and a member of society and the next day you’re dead,” emphasized a participant when speaking about those who excessively use drugs.

“Addiction is not prejudiced at all,” reminded Amber Robertson, a Nursing Instructor. “It will encompass the richest of the rich or the poorest of the poor.”

Robertson and Jayna Leipart Guttilla, an IVCC Librarian, facilitated the discussion. They mentioned the same guidelines were to be followed as the first discussion and highlighted the following ideas for the participants to know: We are here to learn and listen, empowered to speak, mindful of our words, and excited to grow together.

Robertson spoke on how much of an affect opioid addiction had on her family, in particular, her sister. She told personal stories of her sister’s addiction and overall drug use to the participants and allowed herself to be extremely open as she shared things she had never talked about previously.

Many other participants joined in with Robertson to relate and share their experiences on how addiction impacted their family and friends as well as themselves. A few noted that it is incredibly hard to understand the effects of something without experiencing it personally.

There was great discussion on the idea that without changing the system and environment for the individual that is battling opioid addiction, society cannot expect change as people who use drugs will just fall right back into their routines and unhealthy habits.

“Nobody wants to be in this position,” a member of the group explained. “These are systemic societal issues and punishing the individual will never fix them in any meaningful way because it’s just going to be some other person next. You have to change a system to fix a systemic issue. You can’t make individual changes and expect anything.”

The discussion continued when a question was prompted on the importance of spreading information about basic injustices and amplifying their messages.

“The outrage needs to sustain as long as the problem does,” added the same group member. “You can’t stop being upset about a problem that’s still there. If you stop, then you’re basically accepting it and saying, ‘Well, I give up.’”

The involvement of the community and its help and resources were mentioned as not being as accessible to people as they should be and the discussion leaned more toward how the community was lacking the ability to support those facing opioid addiction.

“As a community, I feel as if we don’t do enough. Addiction is swept under the carpet and people like to blame the addicts rather than try and help them,” indicated a participant of the discussion.

On the other hand, the Perfectly Flawed Foundation shares resources, provides harm reduction, and educates communities on the difficulties people experience and live through.

“On behalf of the Perfectly Flawed Foundation, we recognize how addiction has an impact on those who use drugs, on the families, the friends, and on the entire community,” elaborated Rachel from the foundation. “As mentioned previously, no one decides to become an addict, so we try not to label people. Our goal is to work together for a positive change. We all have the same goal and that’s a healthy community.”

Robertson also acknowledged more collaborations need to occur between the library and the college as a whole. She expressed that having the opportunity to work on the project of facilitating the second One Book, One College discussion was very exciting.

Upcoming discussion: Illinois Valley Community College’s One Book, One College community reads program third discussion of Eric Eyre’s “Death in Mud Lick: A Coal Country Fight Against the Drug Companies that Delivered the Opioid Epidemic” is at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 20.

Sponsored by Jacobs Library and the Perfectly Flawed Foundation, the event will be held in-person and via Zoom at IVCC’s Ottawa Center, 321 W. Main St. and Perfectly Flawed, 240 First St., LaSalle.

For information and Zoom details, visit www.ivcc.edu/onebook or email [email protected]

IVCC is following all state and local guidelines with regard to the pandemic. Mask usage and other mitigations are expected of all participants.

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