Screen Shot 2015-10-22 at 3.15.45 PMI attended a well-thought out session on substance abuse last night hosted and coordinated by the Chief of Police Purcellville. It was a community meeting of the highest thinking.

Truth be told, I wanted to weep as I headed home. Substance abuse, like so many of us are intimately aware, is like a festering wound as friends and family members fall prey to addiction and isolation. There were people in the room with their own personal stories of loss. Hope and success, too.

Here’s what I learned.

Loudoun County Public Schools have staff trained and dedicated to helping students facing substance abuse as part of the Department of Pupil Services. Take advantage.

Loudoun County has extraordinary and robust counseling services within its department of Mental Health, Substance Abuse & Developmental Services—including resources to reduce costs of 28-day treatment.  (Sadly, a few years ago due to budget cuts, Loudoun County lost its Drug Court and temporary safe housing for addicts—excellent and worthwhile measures that take an addict beyond the 28-day timeframe.)

I was also reminded that people around us care.

Police Chief Cynthia McAlister shared a story of a local low-income family with an addicted son, striving to keep costs in check during his recovery and opting to keep him at home during this delicate time. Like most of us, they didn’t reach out to friends or neighbors because of the stigma many of us feel—despite the common nature of this disease. Their son overdosed and died. That did become public knowledge. The lesson was this: So much caring and higher thinking rallied around that family that they didn’t need to spend a cent on the funeral services. An outpouring of support and help reached out to them. There are some challenges that should never be faced alone.