by David Williams, HNN Freelance Correspondent

"Everyone who overdoses needs followup,"  said Huntington councilwoman Joyce Clark.

I agree with Clark. Those words in my opinion are the key to solving the drug epidemic.

In thinking about my five years in the mental health industry and dealing with addicts and those battling mental illness I realize the Key term is "building relationships. " I realize this is key to business . I wish my father was here to discuss this and I'd love to hear his insight.

The man i respected most in my life was my father Melvin Williams. Melvin passed almost twenty years ago. Dad was General Plant Manager at the Huntington Locomotive Shops when he retired from CSX. My best memories with my father was talking about management philosophy. My dad liked to refer to everything going as "widgets". I was in the grocery field at the time and he liked to say that business philosophy was the same whether talking about trains or cereal. It made sense in terms of strategies like cost, marketing, etc.

Addicts are not widgets. They are people. People need relationships.

I think that building relationships help businesses and is critical to developing repeat business in every field. I think it made me successful in sales and it helps me in the business I'm in now.... Making sick people well.

I think building relationships is key to curing the drug epidemic and that is why I agree with Joyce Clark.

Addicts are often lost and feel like they are outside the community feeling like they don't belong. By following up with them we are showing them that they do belong and people care. In doing so we are treating the esteem issues which may have gotten them involved with drugs in the first place.

Everybody has that basic need to belong to something or belong somewhere. It can be a religious community or a political community of that people belong to.... Unfortunately, too often it is the drug community. That is why in order for an addict to change they must change the people they associate with.

This is why if we expect people to change then we must build relationships with the addict. We need follow up to treat the mental health issues that led them to be part of the drug community.

We need to build relationships and move them to a mentally healthier community. To do this we need followup... We need to show people do care and they are welcome in our religious communities, our political communities, our sports communities.

We need followup to pull them out of the shadows.


Amen, Joyce Clark.... Amen.