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Supporters of people living with substance abuse rappel down Downtown building


? More than 40 people spent part of Tuesday rappelling down the side of a 17-story building in Downtown to raise awareness of addiction and provide support to families that have been impacted as part of a fundraiser for the non-profit group Shatterproof.
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? “Drug addiction is hell on earth,” said Beverly while waiting to rappel down the building. The Acworth resident participated to support her teenage son who is currently in treatment for drug addiction.
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? “We did not know much about drug addiction and Shatterproof has provided us awareness which helps to break the stigma and that's the first thing you feel, stigma,” her husband Mike said.
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? That stigma leads a lot of people to avoid getting the help they need. Dr. Douglas Nemecek, Cigna’s Chief Medical Officer of the behavioral health business and a member of Shatterproof’s Scentific Board, said an estimated 25 million people in the United States have problems with alcohol or drugs. Yet only 10 percent of that segment of the population seek help, he said.
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? ??? Nemecek said that addiction is a brain disease that causes different people to react differently to using alcohol and drugs. He said that addiction is “an inability to keep up with other life obligations as a result of use.”
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? According to Nemecek, the toll from this disease in the United States is bleak, with 360 people dying every day from alcohol and drug abuse. “Society often does not treat people with addiction with the same compassion as those who suffer from other illnesses,” Nemeck said.
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? Often times people addicted to drugs and alcohol who run afoul of the law are sent to prison rather than directing them to treatment. According to a 2010 report by CASAColumbia, 65 percent of all U.S. inmates — roughly 1.5 million — meet the medical criteria for substance abuse addiction. Yet only 11 percent receive treatment.
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? After rappelling down the building in support of her sister, Heather Craytor said her little sister has struggled with addiction problems throughout her life. Craytor, who participated in the event with her father, said she used to be her “biggest critic.”
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? “The big thing for me is we were raised in the same family and I could not understand how it is we turned out so differently,” she said. But after hearing a talk by Shatterproof’s founder Gary Mendell, whose own son died as a result of addiction, Craytor realized “we are different people with different brain chemistries.”
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? This realization made a big difference in her ability to support her sister with her struggles, she told Creative Loafing after rappelling down the side of the building alongside her father.
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? The day’s festivities started with the announcement that The Cigna Foundation had given a $100,000 grant to Shatterproof. In a statement, Mendell said the money will be used to create an online resource to help people confronting addiction access information that could help save lives and reduce “enormous human suffering.”
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