Be Patient, Be Kind and You Can Help Someone with Substance Abuse Disorder

Last week, I had the privilege of meeting some of the finest minds in the addiction treatment and recovery world at the Appalachian Addiction and Prescription Drug Abuse Conference. This is timely, as we are in the midst of an addiction crisis. Politicians are threatening to lock up offenders and want to further regulate medication assisted treatment (MAT). This is unfortunate. Perhaps some politicians should have come to hear more about how to solve the problem.

On the AHP, I had a great time interviewing Dr. Marvin Seppala, the Medical Director at the Hazelden Betty Ford Clinic. Dr. Seppala is a brilliant man with a kind heart. He cares about the patients he’s helping. We discussed issues like Mrs. Ford coming out years ago and admitting she had a problem. That opened a door for many people that is still open today. We also talked about how to address addiction with a loved one that has a problem. (To answer the question you probably just asked yourself, you research the issue and talk to them about it. Being patient, be kind, you shouldn’t expect immediate results.)

Hazelden Betty Ford pioneered a 12-step recovery. We’ve all heard of it. Work your steps and work to stay sober in a community of your peers. Now, the group that brought you abstinence based recovery brings you MAT. What works for one person, works for one person. You can’t assume everyone will respond to treatments the same way. It’s not one size fits all. You can even take MAT while working through the 12-steps if you need to.

Since doing this, Hazelden Betty Ford has changed outcomes for the better. They are more successful which means there are more people out there under the control of substance use disorder. Patients must consider this disease all their life, but they can go on living. It was a culture change for the clinic, but one for the better.

If you know someone who you believe has a substance abuse issue, remember they are ill, not a lesser person. Research the issue and talk to them about what treatments might be available. One day we might beat addiction, until then be patient, be kind, and you might just save someone’s life.

You can hear my interview with Dr. Seppala available Monday morning on the Appalachian Health Podcast. It is available on Apple Podcast, Spotify, or at

Published by Danny Scalise

Danny Franklin Scalise, II is the Executive Director and Chief Lobbyist of the West Virginia State Medical Association and its subsidiary organizations as well as a professor of Health Policy at the West Virginia University School of Public Health. He is considered one of the leading health policy experts in West Virginia and is a passionate advocate for public health. Scalise has been a public policy adviser to two Governors. He is well known across West Virginia as a problem solver and a great student of West Virginia politics & the legislative process. As part of the Manchin administration, Danny was the Recovery Czar in West Virginia managing $1.8 billion in grants and entitlement funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.
 Danny earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Business Management from West Virginia University Institute of Technology in 2002, his Master of Business Administration from West Virginia University in 2005, and his Master of Public Health degree in Health Policy in 2018. In 2016 he became Certified in Public Health by the National Board of Public Health Examiners. He has been published on and regularly speaks on issues of public health, health policy, and local health department governance & organizational structure. Danny sits on the Board of Directors for the Thomas Health System in South Charleston, WV and in 2019 Mayor Amy Shuler Goodwin appointed him to serve on the Kanawha-Charleston Board of Health which governs the largest and first PHAB Accredited Health Department in West Virginia. 
 Danny has been recognized by Opportunity Nation in 2013 as part of their national Opportunity Leaders & Scholars program and was awarded the “Health Administration Rising Star” by the American Public Health Association in 2016. He is a 2012 Leadership West Virginia graduate, was on the State Journal’s 2016 Generation Next: 40 under 40 list, was named a 2019 Young Gun by West Virginia Executive Magazine, and was given the 2019 Advocacy Award by the West Virginia Immunization Network for his work to protect West Virginia’s childhood immunization laws. Since joining in 2007, Danny has been an active participant in Mensa.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: