Addiction: Substance abuse treatment requires compassion

“We don’t have to import addicts. We have plenty here.”

West Virginia State Trooper Matt Jarvis was right to be so blunt in dismissing one of the fears expressed by Wirt County residents, that a transitional home for addicts would bring more addicts from out of the county, into Elizabeth.

Such a facility is necessary for those who desperately want to turn around their lives, get cleaned up, get on the right track. It is often impossible for them to do so surrounded by the family and “friends” already associated with their addiction.

But a place such as the one proposed by the Wirt County Recovery Team isolates them, gives them a place to stay — away from all those other influences — while they await a spot in a detox or treatment facility.

“The home is no alternative to going to jail,” said Wirt County Sheriff Travis Corbitt. “This is a lifeline, a place for them to weather the storm. If they step out of bounds, they are done.”

Wirt County residents were right to communicate their concerns, of course. And Elizabeth Mayor Dotty Moore was spot on in suggesting those are exactly the folks who should be looking to join the WCRT board and “really have community input into the home.”

But the bottom line, as expressed by ordained minister Jason Brandonberry, who got clean six years ago, without the aid of a home such as the one being proposed, is this, “If we’re going to call ourselves Christians, we need to be more Christ-like.”

Compassion is not always easy, and it doesn’t often mean staying inside our comfort zones. But the substance abuse epidemic that is crippling our state can continue to do so only if we let it — only if we refuse to take the steps needed to help the people in its grip.