Breaking the Stigma of Addiction
The final speaker at the Wisconsin Hospital Association (WHA) Wisconsin Rural Health Conference, challenged audience members to look past the obvious and to take the time to have a conversation with someone who might be struggling. Former BMX Elite Pro Tony Hoffman shared his personal and painful experience overcoming addition in a presentation entitled Breaking the Stigmas.
Sharing stories of trauma and emotional abuse and his own history of anxiety that led him to seek release from the pressures he felt, Hoffman detailed the journey that led him to alcohol and drug misuse. Along the way, Hoffman met health care professionals who could not show compassion and empathy because of their outdated beliefs about how people became addicts, as well as their pre-conceived notions regarding people with mental health struggles. Hoffmann said that if only someone had stopped to have a conversation with him, his life might have turned around sooner.
Tony’s life did start to turn around when he found himself in prison and was forced to re-evaluate how he got to the point that he did.
Tony’s message to the audience about leading with empathy and compassion, starting a conversation with someone and not falling into the trap of making assumptions about people because of their situation was powerful. He charged all in health care to do better and to continuously reach out to those in need.
See a wrap-up of the 2021 Wisconsin Rural Health Conference in photos here.
This story originally appeared in the June 10, 2021 edition of WHA Newsletter