In a situation … what do you do?

Cathy Brownfield

I made a business call. The young man who took my phone call was very willing to help me to get the information that I was looking for. But it took only a moment for me to think something might be terribly wrong. The speaker’s words were slurred, sometimes to the point that I couldn’t make out what he was saying. And when he had to put my call on hold, he breathed into the phone as if he were having trouble with the task.

            We all have read or heard that Covid-19-induced work-from-home has seen a rise in the misuse of alcohol and drugs. At one point I was on hold for so long I was concerned that this young man might have collapsed on his floor at home and nobody knew. Was I over-thinking? Was my imagination running wild? Should I just mind my own business? I have written articles for Family Recovery Center, about 1,100 of them over the past 21 years. Should I have known what to say or do?

I didn’t want to cause trouble for anyone, especially if there really wasn’t a problem. I didn’t want the young man to lose his job. But more, I didn’t want him to lose his life. What if he needed help? What if my one phone call was the difference between life and death?

My daughter reminded me of something we experienced when she was in school. A friend had talked to her about suicide. Upset, she had come to me to ask what she should do. Her father and I took her to the friend’s house. She urged her friend to tell the parents or she would. The parents were immediately alarmed, which turned to great concern when they learned of their young teen’s state of mind. We left the family to deal with their situation in private, knowing that our daughter had done the right thing. The friend didn’t talk to her for a long while, but eventually thanked her for doing the right thing.

“You need to do the right thing,” she said as I explained the call to her.

All of this speaks of a number of things that everyone might want to pause to think about. Substance misuse is not just risky. For too many it is lethal. Knowing the signs and symptoms of depression, anxiety, and other issues is vitally important in these uncertain times when everyone is affected by all of the chaos going on around us constantly. We can’t always tell when someone is in serious trouble. We don’t always see the signs.

Living alone is a way of life, but friends who care make calls once in a while to check on the health and well-being of those friends who do live alone. Having NARCAN on hand – and knowing how to use it -- because you don’t know when someone you love or someone you don’t even know might need it – can become a matter of life and death.

September is Recovery Month across the nation. Nobody sets out to intentionally form an addiction to something. But addiction happens to people from all walks of life. And stigma holds too many of them there. Employers with benefits that provide assistance and support through recovery are a lifeline are a make-a-difference-in-a-life action, not just for the person who is struggling, but also for the safety and wellbeing of everyone in the workplace. Everyone has an investment in recovery because addiction affects all of us in some way.

Family Recovery Center helps families to find ways to navigate through the challenges we face. For more information about the agency’s treatment and education programs, contact FRC at 964 N. Market St., Lisbon; phone, 330-424-1468, or email, FRC is funded in part by the Columbiana County Department of Jobs and Family Services.