AuthorMichaela Winberg

Recovery high school may be ‘best kept secret in Philadelphia’

R

Rebecca Bonner watched her daughter go from a size eight to a size two in just a few weeks when she was 14 years old, in the height of her substance use disorder — she still gets choked up remembering it today. “I was watching my daughter die before my eyes,” Bonner said. Then, Bonner struggled to find the right educational path for her daughter. Returning to her old high...

Making recovery cool in college

M

Their mission is to create “support where you exist.” Robert Ashford and Jimmy Hatzell visited our class last week to explain collegiate recovery. It currently exists in programs across the country, including Pennsylvania schools like Pennsylvania State University and Saint Joseph’s University. Collegiate recovery means more than just a student organization or charitable...

Fitness creates social outlet for people in recovery

F

For a long time, Melody Schofield wasn’t who she wanted to be. During the height of her substance use disorder, Melody worked out rigorously. She was always a fitness buff, but it didn’t become a healthy practice for her until she entered her recovery. Now, she still cares a lot about her fitness. She and Gavin Young co-instruct weekly recovery CrossFit classes, called Human Strength...

New Church Live provides support & community for those in recovery

N

At first, I really struggled to understand the incorporation of religion into recovery. I’ve never been religious, and it’s always been hard for me to relate to people who have used religion to overcome challenges in their lives. That’s not because I don’t believe it would be effective in addiction recovery or because I can’t understand the value of religion for some...

Matthew Schmonsees wants to put himself out of business

M

It struck me when Matthew Schmonsees, the coordinator for the First Judicial District of Pennsylvania, told our class on Tuesday that his ultimate goal is to put himself out of business. But after all, I guess that’s the most kind aspiration you can have when you work in drug treatment court. His ultimate goal is to ensure fewer and fewer people need access to drug treatment because...

Philly is ‘capital of the U.S.’ for recovery housing

P

When Fred Way visited our class to discuss recovery housing in Pennsylvania, he brought to my attention an entire slew of regulations that I had no idea existed. I never before considered how much goes into the certification process for recovery housing. In fact, I had never even realized that recovery houses were supposed to be certified in the first place. I thought it was really interesting...

Accessibility in medication-assisted treatment

A

Keli McLoyd posed an interesting question to our class while she explained different types of medication-assisted treatment: What is accessibility if patients can’t afford it? What she meant by this was clear: although there are several avenues for medication-assisted addiction treatment, many of them are costly and complicated, making them inaccessible to many people dealing with substance...

When it became an epidemic

W

On Thursday, our class had two visitors from the Diana Baldwin Clinic: Akia Feggans, the clinic’s Director of Behavioral Health, and her co-worker Karen Shible. The two discussed in-depth the drug epidemic in Philadelphia and what it’s like to work at the Diana Baldwin Clinic, which specializes in treating low-income Philadelphians who are have substance use disorder and are HIV+...

Stories of recovery from a mother and daughter

S

Chelsey Cain was really beneficial for us to have in class because she has the unique ability to shed personal light on what recovery can look like. It was interesting to hear her and her mother’s different perspectives on her addiction and recovery: what it felt like when her mother was in denial of her daughter’s addiction, how Chelsey felt when her mother kicked her out of the...

Devin Reaves working to “remove the fence”

D

When Devin Reaves visited our class on Thursday, he spoke about some solutions to substance abuse disorder using what he called a social justice approach. Reaves explained to us that instead of helping underprivileged people be able to see over the preverbal “fence” of discrimination and limitations in American society, he believes the solution must tear the fence down. Because...

Jonathan Orens on loss and his son’s addiction

J

For me, Jonathan Orens’ talk on Tuesday delivered a harrowing lesson: recovery is less an end goal than it is a constant battle. For the most part, the speakers who had visited our class up to Tuesday’s class showed the positive outcomes of recovery. We’ve seen people who are sticking with their recovery, attending recovery meetings every day, and now lead very happy, successful...

Scott McLane: recovery not like the movies

S

Immediately as Scott McLane began his chat with us on Tuesday, I was struck by his statement that The Anonymous People is just not real life. Like many others, I know what addiction looks like, and it was frustrating at times to watch that documentary because, although it had some substance, there was so much optimism that it couldn’t feel real. Scott’s honestly didn’t end...

Stories of tragedy or hope: comparing traditional addictions coverage with solutions reporting

S

On Dec. 22, 2016, philly.com published a story headlined Main Line woman, 62, heroin addict, and not unique. It told the story of Lynne C. Twaddle, who developed an addiction to OxyContin after she had surgery on both her hips last year. When she was prescribed OxyContin for her pain, she was already a recovering alcoholic. According to the philly.com story, “And that, her attorney said...

10 Things I Learned About Addiction and Recovery from The Anonymous People

1

The original movement to de-stigmatize addiction began in the 1960s, but it was undercut by the War on Drugs. Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey has a collegiate recovery program. There is a New Jersey state law which mandates that if a state university has at least 20 percent of its students living on campus, the university must provide sober/recovery housing. Alcoholics Anonymous...

10 Ways We Can Incorporate Solutions Into Our Addiction Reporting

1

A Seattle Times survey of potential readership found that 36 percent of general citizens, 50 percent of parents and 84 percent of educators said they would “talk to someone else” about a solutions story. This backs up the idea that solutions journalism could engage readers better than other story models. Solutions stories are at their best when they include data that observe the...