Executive Director Message - Speaking our truth

By: Heather A. Wilson, MSW, CFRE, CAE

Have you ever had someone say something completely untrue about you? Your family, your job? If we are all honest, probably everyone on the planet has experienced being the victim of a falsehood. Fabricated stories posing as fact are not likely to go away any time soon.

The Foundation, and specifically the Physicians’ Health Program, often deals with falsehoods and fake news. New participants are sometimes fearful and misinformed. They make claims that everyone else has the problem and that they do not suffer from a substance use disorder. They claim the evaluator is bad, the treatment provider isn’t fair and the employer is just trying to get rid of them. While this is a minority of our client base, the damage can be lasting.

Often, through time as living a sober life continues, participants adopt a philosophy of gratitude and appreciation. The anger recedes. Participants recognize how hard they worked for their sobriety and that often it takes a village to ensure that one continues to live in sobriety. In unfortunate cases, the harm of earlier rants continues as legacy of falsehood and misperception.

This year, the PHP program has been praised for its work nationally. Our program is one of the oldest and most robust programs in the country. Our trustees faithfully protect our mission and dutifully protect the PHP program. Sadly, the PHP has also experienced the drama of false accusations and fake news. Pennsylvania PHP isn’t the first and definitely won’t be the last victim of fake news.

For the PHP, our best way to fight misinformation is with fact. Facts spoken by those who enter our program and successfully live in a life of sobriety. Facts spoken by our carefully vetted and experienced evaluators, treatment providers and recovery partners. Facts provided by our seasoned casework staff and medical directors, and partners whose work and commitment save careers and change lives.

It can be exhausting speaking against misinformation and falsehoods, but for the sake of those who come before us, who are currently with us and those who will come after us – the PHP’s core principles of confidentiality, accountability, ethical behavior, patient safety and commitment to sobriety will endure. This year we have shared many true stories of hope and lasting change. Thank you for being part of the truth-telling underpinning for the PHP narrative.