The retired Reverend Caddy Jackson has proposed a way of transforming the entire community by combatting its single biggest problem – substance abuse. More specifically, he wants to cut the effects of substance abuse in half in 10 years.
That is Jackson’s goal in his plan of action called “The Spirit of Recovery.” The program will involve community education and awareness, improving communication between cooperating agencies and other organizations and employers. The program will provide a support system for clients building on proven successful programs such as 12-step programs, Drug Court, a progressive and intensive rehabilitation program for repeat felony drug offenders, and pulling from the invaluable expertise of those in recovery.
He said the community first needs to be educated on the effects of drug and alcohol abuse. Jackson said that substance abuse is involved, directly or indirectly, in 90 percent of prosecuted crimes Inyo County. These range from murder to domestic violence to drunk driving and petty theft. Drug and alcohol abuse can also be blamed for divorce, employee and student absenteeism, teen sex and unwanted pregnancy, suicide, homelessness and poverty, Jackson said.
There are also the ripple effects of a drunk driving accident, for example, that can last for years and change the lives of many.
In order to measure the progress of the program, a baseline will need to be established. Jackson explained this measurement will take some time and work on the part of the schools, hospitals, courts and probation departments to collect the data and form a baseline.
He said the measurements of progress will be tangible evidence for the public to see actual change. He said this could include inmate numbers going down, and a reduction of calls into Wild Iris or to the Sheriff’s Department.
Spirit will also be a vehicle for raising self-esteem for those in recovery.
Jackson said that Superior Court Judge Dean Stout regularly tells those in Drug Court, “You are the strongest people I know” – which is not only a morale booster for these reformed, repeat felons but serves as a testament to the struggle of recovering addicts.
Jackson said addicts and alcoholics need to change their entire lifestyle to recover and heal. This could include new friends and jobs, maybe even new partners.
While not a neurologist, Jackson said he has read that addicts lose their ability to feel joy, as the drugs have replaced their body’s own pleasure mechanisms. Jackson said part of the program will be a spiritual one in which recovering addicts will be assisted in finding joyful living.
But those who do succeed are now empowered and can be a great mentor for others in the same predicament, Jackson said. “Our greatest resource are people who have recovered. Instead of isolating people in jails, we should see these people as the valuable social resource they are.”
The increase to a recovering addict’s self-esteem is key to keeping the addict sober and focused, Jackson said.
The accolades will conclude with an annual dinner that will have four purposes. One, the dinner will be a way to honor those in recovery and the employers who have hired them on, as well as members of the Inyo County Drug Task Force and Drug Court. Two, the dinner will serve as a report card for the program. Three, the dinner will keep the community focused on recovery and the problems of substance abuse. And, four, the dinner will be an opportunity for the community to meet with those in successful recovery and to join in the efforts.
The program is in its infancy stages and is need of capitol to get off the ground. Jackson has listed the anticipated costs for the program for 2011 – which include upgrades to the trailers in the United Methodist Church Social Services Sober Living Project, part-time staffing, training, the dinner and advertising – at $23,028.
The first annual dinner and fundraiser will be held at 6 p.m. on Nov. 16 at the Social Center at the United Methodist Church on Fowler Street. Tickets are $75. For more information or for tickets, call Jackson at (760) 920-3485.