Addiction is a tough enemy for people rebuilding lives in our employment training businesses. And in Colorado, it’s clearly getting harder with the growing culture-wide celebration of drug use from the recent legalization of marijuana. It saddens me to see the apparent rising relapse rate for people in our program. A couple of thoughts:
Relapses are infectious. When one person succumbs to addiction in a community of people, it raises the odds of others following. It increases the need for employment-training social enterprises to have firm drug policies with testing and clear consequences. Relapse rates decrease when individuals understand the rules.
Relapses cause stress for others in the program. No one likes to see another fall. When it happens, leaders must be sensitive to the anxiety it causes. They must take special steps to set a positive and encouraging atmosphere. People need to be reminded that individuals do overcome addiction, that God restores lives.
When relapses happen, we can trust that God is still working. It is easy for leaders to get discouraged because their hard work and passion is seemingly not producing positive results. But faith venture leaders need to constantly remind themselves that God’s perspective is much bigger than ours. Relapses are often part of the process of someone reaching the decisive inner will to make a change. And sometimes, relapses are reminders to someone who has made that decision that they continue to need the help of of God and others. It is a leader’s prayer that the relapses become less frequent and shorter in duration because one is able to realize quickly what is happening. Social enterprise practitioners need to remind themselves of the first hand stories where someone’s relapse led to true life in the end.
Finally, legalization of drugs is going to have big negative costs for Colorado as the effects become more evident. Colorado will spend a lot in the future trying to undo the damage marijuana and other drugs cause to short-term and long-term health. People will realize the absurdity of spending money from tax revenues to stop individuals from using a harmful product that is creating those very revenues. And for unskilled laborer, drug legalization creates permanent unemployment with resulting state costs because employers do not hire people using drugs because of safety and insurance requirements.