"The Addicted Brain:" Recovery experts bring message of treatment and hope to families

Recovery advocates work to educate public on addiction

Not a week goes by that we don't hear of a tragedy involving the opioid crisis. So many families are touched by addiction. Bradford Health Services in Birmingham among those encouraging more education and community outreach. Recently a seminar called "The Addicted Brain" drew hundreds of people to Canterbury United Methodist Church. Organizers say it was a message of hope for those struggling.

National recovery advocate Tim Hilton shared his personal story. "Everyone knows someone suffering," remarked Hilton. He explained to those in attendance how the addicted brain won't allow an addict to just stop abusing drugs or stop their immoral behavior.

"We're dealing with sick people, not criminals," says Hilton. He believes while addicts must face consequences for their actions, what we as a country are doing to fight drugs is not working. He says education and seminars like this one are part of the answer.

He warns of families who enable their loved ones. "Through good intentions they nearly loved me to death," explained Hilton. He told the audience how his family would pay his bills allowing him to have more money for drugs and kept him out of jail so he didn't feel the harsh consequences of his actions.

Bradford Health Services Medical Director Dr. Michael Wilkerson says substance abuse disorder is treatable. "We want to send message to people to not give up," says Dr. Wilkerson. He explains it is remarkable to see someone turn their life around after years of addiction.

Dr. Wilkerson says medical intervention can help manage cravings and withdrawal for addicts in treatment. Professionals can then work on underlying issues that patients face like anxiety, depression and trauma that fuel addiction.

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