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  • Twenty-eight years ago, I was a broken man.

  • And you probably wouldn't be able to tell that if you met me.

  • I had a good job at a well-respected academic institution.

  • I dressed well, of course.

  • But my insides were rotting away.

  • You see, I grew up in a family riddled with addiction,

  • and as a kid, I also struggled

  • with coming to terms with my own sexuality.

  • And even though I couldn't name it then,

  • growing up as a gay kid

  • just compounded my issues of isolation and insecurities.

  • But drinking took all of that away.

  • Like many, I drank at an early age.

  • I continued to drink my way through college.

  • And when I finally did come out in the early 1980s,

  • about the only places to meet other gay people,

  • to socialize,

  • to be yourself, were gay bars.

  • And what do you do in gay bars?

  • You drink.

  • And I did --

  • a lot.

  • My story is not unique.

  • Like millions of Americans, my disease progressed undiagnosed.

  • It took me to people and places and things

  • that I never would have chosen.

  • It wasn't until an intersection with the law

  • gave me an "opportunity" to get care,

  • that I began my journey of recovery.

  • My journey of recovery has been filled with love and with joy,

  • but it hasn't been without pain.

  • Like many of you, I've lost too many friends and family to this disease.

  • I've heard too many heartbreaking stories

  • of people who've lost loved ones to addiction.

  • And I've also lost countless friends to HIV and AIDS.

  • Our current opioid epidemic and the AIDS epidemic

  • tragically have much in common.

  • Right now, we are in the midst of one of the greatest health crises of our time.

  • During 2014 alone, 28,000 people

  • died of drug overdoses associated with prescription drugs and heroin.

  • During the 1980s, scores of people were dying from HIV and AIDS.

  • Public officials ignored it.

  • Some wouldn't even utter the words.

  • They didn't want treatment.

  • And tragically, there are many parallels with our current epidemic.

  • Some called it the gay plague.

  • They called for quarantines.

  • They wanted to separate the innocent victims from the rest of us.

  • I was afraid we were losing this battle

  • because people were blaming us for being sick.

  • Public policy was being held hostage by stigma and fear,

  • and also held hostage

  • were compassion, care, research, recovery and treatment.

  • But we changed all that.

  • Because out of the pain of those deaths,

  • we saw a social and political movement.

  • AIDS galvanized us into action;

  • to stand up, to speak up and to act out.

  • And it also galvanized the LGBT movement.

  • We knew we were in a battle for our lives

  • because silence equaled death,

  • but we changed, and we made things happen.

  • And right now, we have the potential

  • to see the end of HIV/AIDS in our lifetime.

  • These changes came in no small part

  • by the courageous, yet simple decision

  • for people to come out

  • to their neighbors, to their friends, to their families

  • and to their coworkers.

  • Years ago, I was a volunteer for the Names Project.

  • This was an effort started by Cleve Jones in San Francisco

  • to show that people who died of AIDS

  • had names

  • and faces and families

  • and people who loved them.

  • I still recall unfolding the AIDS memorial quilt

  • on the National Mall on a brilliant day in October, 1988.

  • So fast forward to 2015.

  • The Supreme Court's decision to strike down the ban on same-sex marriage.

  • My husband, Dave, and I walk over to the steps of the Supreme Court

  • to celebrate that decision with so many other people,

  • and I couldn't help but think how far we came around LGBT rights

  • and yet how far we needed to go around issues of addiction.

  • When I was nominated by President Obama

  • to be his Director of Drug Policy,

  • I was very open about my recovery and about the fact that I was a gay man.

  • And at no point during my confirmation process --

  • at least that I know of --

  • did the fact that I was a gay man come to bear on my candidacy

  • or my fitness to do this job.

  • But my addiction did.

  • At one point, a congressional staffer said that there was no way

  • that I was going to be confirmed by the United States Senate

  • because of my past,

  • despite the fact that I had been in recovery for over 20 years,

  • and despite the fact

  • that this job takes a little bit of knowledge around addiction.

  • (Laughter)

  • So, you know, this is the stigma

  • that people with substance use disorders

  • face every single day,

  • and you know, I have to tell you

  • it's still why I'm more comfortable coming out as a gay man

  • than I am as a person with a history of addiction.

  • Nearly every family in America is affected by addiction.

  • Yet, unfortunately, too often, it's not talked about openly and honestly.

  • It's whispered about.

  • It's met with derision and scorn.

  • We hear these stories, time and time again, on TV, online,

  • we hear it from public officials, and we hear it from family and friends.

  • And those of us with an addiction, we hear those voices,

  • and somehow we believe that we are less deserving of care and treatment.

  • Today in the United States, only one in nine people

  • get care and treatment for their disorder.

  • One in nine.

  • Think about that.

  • Generally, people with other diseases get care and treatment.

  • If you have cancer, you get treatment,

  • if you have diabetes, you get treatment.

  • If you have a heart attack,

  • you get emergency services, and you get referred to care.

  • But somehow people with addiction have to wait for treatment

  • or often can't get when they need it.

  • And left untreated, addiction has significant, dire consequences.

  • And for many people that means death or incarceration.

  • We've been down that road before.

  • For too long our country felt

  • like we could arrest our way out of this problem.

  • But we know that we can't.

  • Decades of scientific research has shown

  • that this is a medical issue --

  • that this is a chronic medical condition

  • that people inherit and that people develop.

  • So the Obama administration has taken a different tack on drug policy.

  • We've developed and implemented a comprehensive plan

  • to expand prevention services, treatment services,

  • early intervention and recovery support.

  • We've pushed criminal justice reform.

  • We've knocked down barriers to give people second chances.

  • We see public health and public safety officials working hand in hand

  • at the community level.

  • We see police chiefs across the country guiding people to treatment

  • instead of jail and incarceration.

  • We see law enforcement and other first responders

  • reversing overdoses with naloxone to give people a second chance for care.

  • The Affordable Care Act is the biggest expansion

  • of substance use disorder treatment in a generation,

  • and it also calls for the integration of treatment services within primary care.

  • But fundamentally, all of this work is not enough.

  • Unless we change the way that we view people with addiction

  • in the United States.

  • Years ago when I finally understood that I had a problem

  • and I knew that I needed help,

  • I was too afraid to ask for it.

  • I felt that people would think I was stupid, that I was weak-willed,

  • that I was morally flawed.

  • But I talk about my recovery because I want to make change.

  • I want us to see that we need to be open and candid about who we are

  • and what we can do.

  • I am public about my own recovery

  • not to be self-congratulatory.

  • I am open about my own recovery to change public opinion,

  • to change public policy

  • and to change the course of this epidemic and empower the millions of Americans

  • who struggle with this journey

  • to be open and candid about who they are.

  • People are more than their disease.

  • And all of us have the opportunity to change public opinion

  • and to change public policy.

  • All of us know someone who has an addiction,

  • and all of us can do our part

  • to change how we view people with addiction in the United States.

  • So when you see someone with an addiction,

  • don't think of a drunk or a junkie or an addict or an abuser --

  • see a person;

  • offer them help;

  • give them kindness and compassion.

  • And together, we can be part

  • of a growing movement in the United States

  • to change how we view people with addiction.

  • Together we can change public policy.

  • We can ensure that people get care when they need it,

  • just like any other disease.

  • We can be part of a growing, unstoppable movement

  • to have millions of Americans enter recovery,

  • and put an end to this epidemic.

  • Thank you very much.

  • (Applause)

Twenty-eight years ago, I was a broken man.

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B1 US TED addiction treatment recovery gay people

【TED】Michael Botticelli: Addiction is a disease. We should treat it like one (Addiction is a disease. We should treat it like one | Michael Botticelli)

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    Zenn posted on 2017/07/17
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