‘Living Free:’ A Letter from the Editors

PHOTO BY BRIANNA SPAUSE // Balloons were released in memory of individuals who lost their lives to overdose at the 2017 Overdose Awareness Day & Memorial Walk in Eddystone, PA on April 29, 2017.

In Philadelphia, the problem is vast.

As the editors of a Temple University journalism project committed to reporting on drug and alcohol addiction in Philadelphia, we’ve heard firsthand from a series of guest speakers and sources about the prominence of substance use disorder in and around this city. We’ve learned about the incredible lack of resources for individuals with addiction and the challenges they face in maintaining their recovery. We’ve spoken with parents who’ve lost their children to overdose and others who’ve battled the disease themselves.

But we’ve also learned about solutions. We’ve spoken to people with decades of sobriety, recovery advocates and policymakers. Many of them shared innovative ideas on how to combat this problem, which so many communities face today.

Some of the solutions we’ve investigated show great promise. They’re pretty different — they span from religious groups to clean needle exchanges to medication-assisted treatment — but they all have one thing in common: they’ve proven successful in helping many people sustain their recovery and live their lives free from addiction.

In this project, we explain to readers the problem of addiction in Philadelphia. We also highlight the solutions we’ve found through a full semester of reporting. By no means are these solutions silver bullets. We are well aware that each and every person experiences recovery differently. These programs will work for some people, and they won’t work for others. There are countless other programs available in Philadelphia and across the country that also work, and those are as valuable as the handful we’ve laid out in this project.

So we’ve learned that while this problem might seem ominous, there are change-makers in Philadelphia working hard to help individuals enter and maintain their recovery. We’ve learned that although they might be hidden, there are plenty of potential solutions in practice. We also suspect there will be many more to come.

As the editors of this project, we’ve learned so much about addiction and recovery this semester. We hope that as the readers of this project, you can learn something too.

Michaela Winberg, Executive Editor
Grace Shallow, Managing Editor

About the author

Grace Shallow & Michaela Winberg

Grace Shallow is a sophomore journalism student at Temple University in Philadelphia. On paper, she is the deputy features editor for The Temple News, an intern for WHYY’s PlanPhilly and a contributor for the Spirit News with previous work at her hometown’s paper, Cinn City News. Feel free to contact Grace at tug14374@temple.edu.

Michaela Winberg is a junior journalism major and a history minor at Temple University. She currently works as the Supervising Editor of her college newspaper, The Temple News, a production assistant intern for a Philly startup podcast called Story Shuffle, and a remote correspondent for The Bellingham Herald, a daily newspaper based out of Washington state. Feel free to contact Michaela at michaela.winberg@temple.edu.

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