This was written after interviewing Dr. Jaynee Paulson on Scott H. Silverman’s Happy Hour Podcast.
In her TEDx talk, Jaynee Poulson refers to the famous line from The Princess Bride: “Life is pain. Anyone who says differently is selling something.” She suggests we own our pain because pain has a purpose.
“If you are never uncomfortable,” she says, “you never learn how to fail successfully.”
Jaynee began volunteering at the Utah State Prison as a way to handle her own pain and grief after the loss of her mother. Since then, she has taken the country by storm, getting involved in initiatives like The Give Back Program, Take Action 4 Life, and SAFE Project. She was even named Utah’s Remarkable Woman of the Year in 2020.
The SAFE Project piqued my interest because it works to reduce the shame and stigma around substance abuse, specifically opioid addiction. I was lucky enough to have her on my podcast, where we got to talk more on the subject.
The mission of the SAFE Project is simple: save a life every day.
It was founded by the Winnefeld family. Their son accidentally overdosed on heroin at nineteen years old, on his sixth day of college. He was in recovery for opioid addiction.
Admiral James and Mary Winnefeld gave their pain a purpose by creating a resource for addicts and the families of addicts. Jaynee, specifically, works with high schoolers to reduce the shame and stigma around opioid addiction, whether it is their own or a family member’s.
Jaynee identifies several issues with the way we currently view addiction. The main problem is that we wind up treating the symptoms instead of the cause. She states bluntly: “[Parents] would rather have a dead child than a child that has a problem with drugs and alcohol.”
And it’s true! Judgment, guilt, and shame are common roadblocks when it comes to convincing someone to seek help for addiction. On DrugAbuse.gov, Dr. Nora Volkow suggests that rejection is a form of social punishment, and it will, in fact, drive an addict to continue their drug-taking.
Addiction is still treated as a moral failing rather than the disease it truly is.
There comes a time in every addict’s life when they hit rock bottom. It’s at this moment that they choose either to seek help or continue harming themselves, whether that comes in the form of something intentional or simply continuing to use.
The goal of people like Jaynee and myself is to make sure that when people reach this point, they know that there are resources available and that these resources are judgment free. I chose to give my own pain a purpose by becoming a crisis coach and writing a book on the opioid epidemic in order to educate people.
For example, did you know that in the 3 years it took me to write and publish my book, at least 250,000 people died due to opioid overdose?
How much lower would that number be if more programs like the SAFE Project existed, if we treated addiction as a disease, if we treated addicts like people? How much lower would that number be if we all chose to give our pain a purpose?
Reach out to me today, and I’ll make sure you get all of the resources to help you on your road to recovery.
(c) 2021 Scott H Silverman. All Rights Reserved.
About Scott H. Silverman: Scott has been fighting against addiction for over 20 years, one person, speech, and book at a time. Contact Scott by calling (619) 993-2738 or visit Your Crisis Coach to learn more about Scott’s work and public appearances. You can buy a copy of his latest book “The Opioid Epidemic” here. Scott is the Founder and CEO of Confidential Recovery, an outpatient addiction treatment program in San Diego.