Living in beautiful Northern California, one can forget that our community suffers from the same challenges that the rest of the country faces. Racism, health inequity, homelessness, unemployment and substance addiction are all issues our community face as well.

60% of addiction is due to genetic disposition, and there are many triggers that can lead to addiction.

“People who suffer from depression or any other psychiatric disorder have a higher risk for addiction. Prescribed opioid medication is another gateway. And of course, environment can also be a factor,” says Dr. Michael Young, who works with people suffering from addiction.

“Many people experiencing addiction do not seek help because they feel shame about their addiction, and they’re concerned about being judged by their friends and their family or the general community,” says Joanne Gamble, a public health worker with Mendonoma Health Alliance. 

“The stigma surrounding addiction can prevent people from getting the help that they need” 

– Joanne Gamble, community health worker

“Often, stigma becomes the barrier to receiving treatment, so if you want to see a successful outcome, we have to start from there,” says Dr. Michael Young. “Our role here in our community is really to educate everybody about what addiction is. We need to let people know that the earlier that we can start an intervention, the better outcome we’re going to see,” says Dr. Young.

Micheline White, Executive Director of the Mendonoma Health Alliance, says that it’s all about asking for help, or providing support to those in need.

“If you’re a loved one of somebody who’s struggling with addiction, I think one of the first steps to do is reach out. Let that person know that they’re loved and cared for and let them know that you’re not going to judge them for the choices they’ve made and their path,” says White.

There are numerous resources available in Mendocino and Sonoma County for people experiencing addiction and their families. Mendonoma Health Alliance and their partners will help connect you with those services, whether it’s online or in person, and their dedicated staff is available to help.

Addiction is not a choice and it doesn’t define people. It’s our responsibility to be kind offer support to people experiencing addiction. We can overcome addiction, together.

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