Community Backlash Halts Plan for VA Recovery Campground

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Suburban Virginia, like the rest of the nation, has seen an increase in opioid abuse rates. But unlike other states, no new treatment centers or halfway houses have been built to accommodate those suburban Virginians struggling with substance abuse.

It’s a disturbing fact – one led a group of people in the recovery community to take action.

Is There Any Hope for Camp Hope?

In 1982, John Shinholser and Carol McDaid founded The McShin Foundation with the goal of providing aid to people in their area struggling with chemical dependency. The foundation currently operates several smaller sober houses around the Virginia suburbs.

In addition, the McShin Foundation is trying to get a bill passed that would create 100 new sober living beds for males in the Henrico County area. The initiative, aptly dubbed “Camp Hope,” would not only help the male residents, it would ultimately make more space for females in the area looking to make the transition to sober houses.

While the initiative sounds great on paper, Henrico’s residents are strongly opposing the bill’s passage. Citizens claim they want to see individuals to get help and find recovery, they just don’t want them to do it “in their backyard.”

Even though studies have shown suburban recovery centers and halfway houses yield better results than similar facilities in urban neighborhoods, people still fight new treatment centers being built anywhere near their own neighborhoods.

The War on Getting Clean

Shinholser and McDaid are trying to alter people’s negative perception of those seeking help for substance abuse problems.

“I’m not ashamed, but I have to keep it under wraps. People judge us so hard”, says a woman who wishes to remain anonymous due to the social stigmas attached to substance abuse.

She currently resides in a small sober home in Hanover, Virginia that houses a diverse set of women – some are in their twenties, others in their sixties. She holds two college degrees and has no criminal record, yet she fears if her substance abuse issue went public, she would face discrimination, especially in the job market.

It’s an unfortunate reality that people associate the words “addict” and “alcoholic” with negative connotations. Often times, that judgement doesn’t disappear even after we have a year, or two years, or three years clean.

Isn’t it Time for Change?

It’s heartbreaking to realize that it’s taken pills and heroin making their way into the “safe, pretty” suburbs and affecting the middle-to-upper class for those in power to actually think about the rest of us. As of late, you can’t turn on the news without hearing something about the opioid epidemic.

If the McShin Foundation manages to accomplish their mission, word-of-mouth may be enough to change people’s minds in towns like Hanover and Henrico, then move into surrounding neighborhoods and hopefully spread nationwide. Sometimes all it takes to create real change is one voice and a dream.

Here’s some facts we all need to remember regarding substance abuse:

  • Addiction doesn’t discriminate.
  • Drugs aren’t just in the “bad neighborhoods.”
  • Substance abuse has no color.
  • Chemical dependency has no nationality.
  • It’s in your background.
  • It’s in your child’s school.
  • It’s happening in fast-food chains.
  • It’s glamorized on TV and in movies.
  • Needles are found in public parks.

This crisis is affecting us all. That means we all need to work together, put our judgements aside, and find out what we can do to help in our own neighborhoods.

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