The ART of recovery

Opinion: Columns

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By Anita Pindiur & Vanessa Matheny

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The opioid crisis is the latest headline and chapter in the long story of addiction and the struggle to recovery. For many, addiction may seem like some abstract problem or distant dilemma. It is not. It is an illness that afflicts all races, income and social levels, and communities. In Oak Park and River Forest we are confronting it.

The Addiction Recovery Team of the Community Mental Health Board of Oak Park Township is committed to helping those in the recovering community — and those seeking recovery — to find prevention, early intervention and treatment options with community support. Created four years ago, the Addiction Recovery Team (ART) helps people in Oak Park and River Forest get treatment and support services for addiction to alcohol, drugs and gambling.

Over 21 million Americans are battling a substance-use disorder. We have an epidemic across the country, and it is hitting an increasing number of young people. Those who need help can get help and can have the support they need.

For many of us, we only become aware of the scope of the problem when it affects the life of someone we love — a family member or friend — or the life of someone we admire and respect.

On Sept. 8, ART will screen the documentary As I Am: The Life and Times of DJ AM. The film is an insider's look at the life of "America's first million dollar DJ" and his struggle with recovery. Concordia University Chicago will host the screening at the Christopher Center, 7400 Augusta St., Room 200, in River Forest.

A Tribeca Film Festival selection in 2015, the film chronicles the spectacular rise of DJ AM, his struggles with drugs and alcohol, and his death in 2009 from an overdose.

Widely regarded as the first star deejay, DJ AM (his real name was Adam Goldstein) was popular in Hollywood, New York and Las Vegas. He struggled with weight, drugs and depression. Quoted in an article in People: "Drugs became my identity," DJ AM said in 2005. "I would deejay until 2 a.m., go get drugs and stay up until 10 in the morning doing drugs alone in my apartment."

This film is about a famous person, but the message is that addiction can hit anyone. Addiction is an illness, and people need to be able to open up about their illness. People can and need to seek help and not struggle in silence.

The struggle to recovery waged by DJ AM instructs us all. The struggle requires persistence, education, treatment and support. The story of his struggle teaches us that recovery is not easy, there will be relapses, and it cannot be waged alone. But there is hope.

Programs like ART are available. Our community is not idle. We are taking a vibrant and forceful stand to assist our community — our friends, our family members, those we love — in confronting their addiction and the struggle to recovery.

Anita Pindiur and Vanessa Matheny, MSW, are co-chairs of the Addiction Recovery Team of the Community Mental Health Board of Oak Park Township.

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