The 2019 Appalachian and Prescription Drug Abuse Conference is a 3-day event that aims to discuss solutions for addiction. The conference started in 2012 with around 190 participants and this year there were 500 people on the first day alone.
The 500 people included: doctors, nurses and healthcare practitioners who were all trying to learn and share the latest methods of addiction treatment.
A nurse and one of the speakers, Ken Rodenbaugh, offered some solutions he had learned from his personal bout with addiction to prescription drugs. He said the biggest problem facing addicts or even former addicts like himself is the stigma.
“Stigma has been such a big part of my life while I was a nurse and in active addiction and my ignorance towards it and I just want to raise awareness,” Rodenbaugh said. “Society inhibits people from getting the help they need.”
Rodenbaugh said he is actively trying to fight stigma and change people’s perspectives by making himself a face of addiction. He has been in recovery for 6 years and is back to working full time as a nurse and even dispenses medication to patients.
He said he has spoken to thousands of nurses and healthcare professional around the country in order to chip away at the stigma. Rodenbaugh admits that he himself was once guilty of having a narrow view on what it meant to be an addict. He said for that reason he did not see himself as an addict until it was too late and he lost his job.
“I was a full time nurse a full time dad, full time husband,” he said. “I was all these things I shouldn’t have been I grew up in a nice home with a mom and dad. All these things that go against what I thought an addict was, so we need to realize it could be anybody.”
Rodenbaugh said there needs to be a constant reminder that recovery is possible and that there is hope for addicts.
The conference continues Oct. 18-19 in Morgantown.