During the 2016 International Academic Conference on Humanities in Boston, Marlene Smith, PhD, RN, FAAN, said: “Healing is the dynamic, ongoing process of ‘re-membering’ one’s human integrative wholeness.”
As we think about the opioid crisis and the addicted persons who come to us in need of “re-membering,” our care, offered with loving kindness and compassion, reaffirms our belief in their potential for healing and change.
As human beings, we have choices. We can label people, reducing them to objects – as our society has done with addicted persons – or we can meet each person with discernment and without judgment. As nurses, caregivers and providers, we have spoken and unspoken professional agreements that society depends on us to keep so our care and teaching occurs within the context of another human being’s story: a human being who is not defined solely by addiction.
Once we acknowledge addiction as a disease, we reduce stigmatization and can approach addiction like other diseases, with an intent to advance prevention and healing potential. I watch each of you do this every day, through your caring intention and presence, creating possibilities that have yet to emerge and that your patient may not even dare to hope for.
As a community of caregivers, we know, from recent experience, the distress that is created when our integrated wholeness is threatened. As human beings, we identify and empathize with other human beings’ struggles and weaknesses. At the same time, as a community of professionals, our responsibility to ourselves and to those we serve is to be as healthy, whole and self-aware as we can be, in order to be true agents of healing and well-being.
Let us come together, calling on our collective caring and inclusive intentions to become a part of the solution: to advance the health and “re-membering” of these patients’ integrative wholeness.
With hope and gratitude,
Jackie Somerville, PhD, RN, FAAN
Chief Nursing Officer and Senior Vice President of Patient Care Services