BERLIN – The coordinator of a statewide leadership program met with members of the Worcester County Warriors Against Opiate Addiction last week to share his story of recovery and offer resources to those who want to be local and state advocates for those struggling with addiction.
In a Warriors meeting last Thursday, John Winslow, coordinator of Maryland’s Recovery Leadership Program – a program that provides members of the recovery community with information and skills to advocate for those in addiction – addressed Warrior members about the potential for them to support state legislative bills and local organizations that help those who are struggling.
Their voice, he told attendees, has the potential to make legislators listen to their cause.
“Legislators get tired of hearing lobbyists and bureaucrats, the same people over and over again, testifying on these bills,” he said. “But when you have a real-life dad talking about how he lost his only son due to this addiction because he was denied treatment or because insurance wouldn’t cover it, it really gets their attention.”
As coordinator of the program, Winslow said he wants to see family members join and support the work of those in recovery.
“We are looking to include family members that have loved ones that are engaged in recovery, family members that have loved ones that are in active addiction and those that have lost loved ones through addiction,” he said. “For those of you who have lost loved ones, and many of you have, this may be an avenue to be a part of your healing process, by engaging in advocacy.”
Winslow, who defined himself as “a child of the 60s,” said his experiences with drug use and alcoholism led him to near-death and eye-opening experiences.
“We are talking about a chronic, progressive, incurable illness when we are talking about addiction,” he said. “It can be successfully arrested one day at a time, but not cured.”
Winslow now works for the Maryland chapter of the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, leading its Recovery Leadership Program. After 41 years of sobriety, he said he continues his career in the addiction field, offering addicts and their loved ones with a chance to educate community members and legislators on bills that address addiction.
“When someone engages in recovery, they are no longer part of the problem, but very often they become part of the solution,” he said.
This call to action led Warrior members to ask Winslow questions about statewide efforts to engage the public and bills that are being presented in this year’s legislative session.
“There are a number of opportunities to engage in that way if you are so inclined,” he said. “Come and see what happens there and watch others and maybe at some point you might be interested in some bill that really catches your attention.”
Winslow commended the Warriors on their efforts, and urged them to continue to fight for those in addiction.
“Anything I do isn’t all that significant, but it’s significant that I do it,” he said. “We never know when a seed is going to be planted.”