Is America a penal colony? –  

DEC. 4, 2020 – The holidays are always difficult for those who must navigate the mighty and destructive waves of addiction. It’s a painful time for families who are separated because of a loved one’s incarceration, whose young person is lost on the streets because of drug problems, whose children are in danger because of the violence of the drug cartels or those who have lost a loved one to an overdose. Often a family member is missing from the festivities because of stigma and shame.

This Thanksgiving, my husband and I were the ones missing from our family holiday gathering, due to caution about social distancing during the pandemic. Such irony that there were so many holidays in the past when my sons left the empty chair at our gathering because of incarceration or stigma associated with drug addiction.

As the weather turns chilly and we move indoors to enjoy the warmth and safety of our homes and loved ones, I have always been acutely aware of those not so fortunate: people who are out in the elements, either because of dire financial situations or mental health or substance use disorders. These times are worse as we must limit indoor gathering and shelters, leaving so many people isolated and without needed services.

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