At Opioid Conference, Former Congressman Kennedy Says Stigma Persists

Open about his own battles with substance abuse, AOR Advisor Patrick J. Kennedy, a former member of Congress from Rhode Island, said this nation is hung up on the stigma associated with addiction.

In a rousing speech to a packed room at a conference on opioid addiction and recovery, Kennedy, six years sober himself, said that though much progress has been made to understand that addiction is an issue of the brain and not of morals or character, the stigma and shame persist.

“If these were any other … illness, we would call this for what it is and that’s a public health crisis,” said Kennedy, brother of Connecticut state Sen. Ted Kennedy Jr. and nephew of President John F. Kennedy. “If these were any other illnesses, we would be calling for the president to declare a national state of emergency.”

Kennedy, the keynote speaker of the conference attended by health care professionals, community providers and addiction specialists, plans to push for that declaration as one of five members of President Donald Trump‘s newly appointed Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis.

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