5 Cities, 5 Days: What We Learned
Last week, part of our Addiction Campuses team took an innovative approach to spreading the word about drug and alcohol addiction – and recovery, by making a trek across the state of Tennessee via RV.
(Addiction Campuses’ Social Media Manager, Brittany Patterson; Creative Manager, Erin Dineen; Public Relations Manager: Brian Sullivan load onto the RV in Nashville for 5 Cities, 5 Days.)
The “5 Cities, 5 Days” tour stopped in 5 of Tennessee’s hardest-hit areas: Chattanooga, Knoxville, Nashville, Jackson, and Memphis. While we knew that this trip would be one that would help educate communities, we were shocked by all that we learned in our travels.
We’ve Come A Long Way.
We’re not just referring to our 900 mile road trip: the discussions about drug and alcohol recovery, the receptiveness to information about treatment, and media attention on addiction – is finally coming to a forefront. Going into our journey, our team was prepared to be ignored and scolded for talking about a topic that’s often seen as “taboo.” We were prepared for negative reactions from community leaders, parents shielding their children from the word “Addiction” on our flag, and people turning a blind eye as we entered their parks, parking lots, and neighborhoods.
Instead, we found that people are ready for answers and ready for action. Joggers in the park came up to our RV to talk about addicted spouses and siblings; parents with small children opened up to us about growing up in addicted households; law enforcement discussed finding ways to help people with addiction – rather than arresting them.
We discovered just how hungry people are for information, and connections to other families and individuals who are going through the same things they are or have been through. We found community members who wanted to do more for their neighbors and friends.
(Memphis Police Dept. Major Anthony Rudolph speaks with Addiction Campuses and Memphis Area Prevention Coalition in Memphis)
More Work & More Information Are Necessary.
While we met with people very eager to open up about addiction in their own families and neighborhoods, we also discovered that there is a serious lack in knowledge about addiction in our country. As professionals, our team sees people everyday who are struggling with addiction; we know the statistics state-by-state and across the county; we understand how badly our nation is hurting. However, not everyone knows the facts. People were shocked to hear that Tennessee had the highest rate of prescription painkillers per person in the nation – tied with Alabama. Families were alarmed by the increase in Hepatitis C in the state due to the sharing of contaminated needles and syringes. People were saddened to hear 91 of Tennessee’s 95 counties had at least one recorded death attributed to drug overdose last year.
(Addiction Campuses connects with young and old on 5 Cities, 5 Days tour in Jackson, TN)
Spreading the Word of Hope and Healing.
What started out as a mission to spread hope and healing in our home campus state, turned out to be an eye-opener for our team. We know that there’s more work to be done, and we plan to make our way around the country – region by region, and state by state. We plan to keep talking about addiction, and showing people the hope that recovery holds. We plan to break the silence and bury the stigma. We hope you’ll join us.
“When the whole world is silent, even one voice becomes powerful.” – Malala Yousafzai
(Addiction Campuses spreads hope, healing, and awareness.)