Blog Post – The Face of Addiction

Cindy Sneed

Do you know your neighbor?

So often we think of our neighbor as the person who lives in the house on the next lot or in the adjacent unit of our apartment building.  Maybe we think of a neighbor as someone living in a certain “neighborhood,” living within a specific geographic area.  The Bible demonstrates a clear standard for how we are to care for our neighbors in the book of Luke. In Chapter 10 we read about a man who encountered a group of robbers, where he was stripped, beaten, and left alone to die.  There were several people who saw the man’s predicament but did not stop to help.  There was only one man, a priest, who went out of his way to show compassion and provide help to this man.

Luke 10 teaches us the standard of care for being a good neighbor. Most of what is said is good and helpful and right, but what really matters is this:  there was a person in need and someone – a neighbor – responded to that need. Interesting we never learn the name, identity, profession, socioeconomic status, the person’s physical or mental capabilities, or any other identifying characteristic of the injured person. The only thing we know is that he is from a region that is not-the-most favorable.  In other words, he was a neighbor from another neighborhood who needed help.

The opioid epidemic that we are experiencing in our city, the State of Tennessee and across the country is devastating our neighborhoods—not just “some” neighborhoods with less favorable zip codes—it is happening to ALL of our neighborhoods.  Every day there are new stories about families and friends who have lost someone they love to this terrible disease of addiction.  These are the stories of our neighbors who we have the privilege to serve each day at The Next Door. Our neighbors come to us from neighborhoods such as Brentwood, Antioch, Nashville, Clarksville, Belle Meade, Franklin, Knoxville, Murfreesboro, Cookeville, and other neighborhoods from across our state. Our neighbors are your mothers, daughters, grandmothers, aunts, nieces, sisters, coworkers, mentors, and best friends.

Like the man in Luke 10, we all need help at some point in our lives. We are all poor in some way. Sometimes we need (and are given) good, helpful, and right things. While in other seasons we crave and have a desperate need for things that are unhealthy and destructive.  Like the priest in the story who offered help to a neighbor he did not know—we are called to be non-judgmental neighbors who provide quality, compassionate care to our neighbors who are struggling with the weight of addiction, mental illness, and trauma.

At The Next Door we teach women and their families that hope can be found even in the midst of their darkest circumstances—when they feel broken and abandoned and all alone. Our team teaches that not only is there a way out of these circumstances—we teach them HOW to heal and HOW to protect themselves from the continuing devastation caused by this chronic disease of addiction.

We are thankful for all of the brave women and their families who have asked for help from The Next Door.  It is humbling to spend your days serving as a good neighbor to hurt people and to be called to render aid to them.  It is such a privilege for our team to get to know our neighbors—each of them are unique and have a desire for meaningful relationships, have professional and educational goals, dreams, and abilities that are amazing and gifted—each of our neighbors is marvelously created! The women who sit in our groups, joke with one another over lunch, meet with a nurse practitioner in medical services, and attend family therapy with their loved ones are OUR neighbors.  We are so glad they chose to come to The Next Door.

Cindy Sneed serves as The Next Door’s Chief Clinical Officer

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