Stop the Stigma Sweeps Malden

Forestdale School students holding up massive banners that they created in preparation for Stop the Stigma Day. Photo by Ana Pirosca.

By Brenden Bell and Jennica Ruan.

Everyone has someone that they know that has fought with addiction whether it is alcohol, drugs, sex, or even money. “Addiction is a disease of more that doesn’t only affect the user it affects everyone around family, friends, and co-workers” says Paul Hammersley President, and founder of Malden Overcoming Addiction.

“5 years ago [he] saw that there was a problem with the opioid epidemic so we met monthly and in under a year we became a non-profit.” he says.

Malden Stop The Stigma is an event started by Malden Overcoming Addiction (MOA) to get rid of the stigma around people with addictions and addiction itself in order to encourage people to receive future help in battling their addictions. Stop The Stigma hopes to inform people that addiction is a disease that does not just affect the user but every one that is around them. MOA’s mission is to set the community up with addiction support and recovery services, stop the stigma around addiction, and fight to overcome fatal overdoses.

Paul Hammersley, Justin Bottlieb, and Ana Pirosca posing with the blue ribbons representing recovery. Submitted by Ana Pirosca.

Stop The Stigma Week began April 1st with Malden High School beginning the countdown with facts about stigma said during daily announcements. On April 10th, members of MOA, Justin Gottlieb, Ana Pirosca, and Hammersley himself, went to schools across Malden to explain what stigma is. By explaining what stigma is middle schoolers, children know what stigma will look like, and hopefully engage less in it which ultimately creates a more open and accepting environment for recovering addicts.

Hammersley believes that battling addiction begins with the youth. “We felt that the youth weren’t being educated enough on the disease of addiction,” Hammersley says, “Mr. Valente and MHS Advanced Media with the help of MOA produced a video to help spread awareness for addiction and symptoms of addiction”.

Video created by the MHS Advanced Media class for Stop the Stigma Day. 

“MOA does a variety of different things to help addicts stay sober. We have a scholarship program where we put people into sober living for the first 30 days,” he says. “We have recovery coaches who will meet people where they’re at who are still using and coach them”.

“Recovery coaches will push addicts toward Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous (AA/NA) Where they can get support from other recovering addicts”. AA/NA is a program set up by recovering addicts to help each other stay sober. AA/NA doesn’t just help alcoholics AA will help anyone willing to help themselves with any type of addiction.

MOA also hosted a couple of upcoming events in Malden like the Improvable Play, on May 17 in the Jenkins auditorium. On May 16, there was a fundraiser to put people into sober living homes at The Irish American club.

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