Merlino & Gonzalez May 2019

May 2019




A TRUE STATEN ISLAND HERO Jackie Filis on Addiction Treatment for Staten Islanders

make all the difference in the world. Providing families and the community with tools to support those in need is an essential component of what we do. Another aspect of our work is battling the stigma associated with addiction. We’ve come far in this regard, too, but we still have plenty to do. Decades ago, it was common to characterize addiction as a personal failing, but we now know that’s not the case. We need to come to terms with the fact that addiction is a disease like any other, not a sign of weakness or lack of willpower. The more we, individually and as a community, can accept and understand the disease concept, the better equipped we will be to respond if we are confronted with this in our lives or the lives of our loved ones. My personal journey at the YMCA Counseling Service started 19 years ago. I was an undergrad studying psychology and criminal justice at the time. Seeing the positive effects that counseling and our agency had on people in our community inspired me to continue down this path. I pursued a master’s in social work and haven’t looked back since. Yes, my job requires me to deal with a lot of hardship and heartache, but there’s also plenty of triumph to go along with it. Helping to battle substance abuse is a mission that never stops being rewarding. Every person that walks through the door is a win in the battle. As a member of this community, I want to see every Staten Islander thriving. We’ll keep working to ensure that if someone in our community is struggling, we will be there to help them take steps on their recovery journey. Help is available in our community. Treatment works, and recovery is possible.

Normally, we like to use this space to highlight the work of local people with whom we collaborate. This month, however, we’re featuring somebody we have no professional relationship with. That may seem like an odd choice, but the work that Jackie Filis does makes a huge impact on the lives of all Staten Islanders. As executive director of the Staten Island YMCA Counseling Services, Jackie is on the front lines helping battle substance abuse in our community. It’s a national problem, but one that benefits from local, grassroots efforts. That’s why the work Jackie and her colleagues do is so beneficial to our community. We’re honored to share the island with people like Jackie and proud to give her a chance to tell her story to our readers. Take it away, Jackie. Statistics demonstrate that nearly everyone reading this newsletter will have been touched by addiction and substance abuse in one way or another. Whether or not you’ve ever struggled with substance misuse yourself, you probably know somebody close to you who has. We’ve come a long way in terms of how we understand and talk about these troubles, but we still have a long way to go. In my work with the YMCA Counseling Service, I hope to help give people the tools to talk about addiction in a way that’s both honest and productive. At the YMCA, we don’t just provide outpatient treatment, counseling, and recovery services for those battling with substance misuse, but we also offer services for those who have loved ones dealing with these struggles. Addiction affects the entire family, and recovery is strongest when families recover together. This inclusive approach is crucial for increasing success as well as awareness about the issue. Many people don’t understand how to effectively and compassionately support somebody suffering from addiction. The way loved ones and family members approach somebody struggling can

If you or somebody you love is struggling with substance abuse, you can call the Staten Island YMCA Counseling Service at (718) 948-3232. –Jacqueline Filis



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