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Jefferson Today

Darryl Strawberry Sheds Light on Addiction at Population Health Colloquium

As the 18th Population Health Colloquium wrapped up Wednesday morning, Darryl Strawberry, former professional baseball player and ordained minister, addressed the room of healthcare professionals to share his own battle of addiction and shed light on ways to improve the treatment process for other recovering addicts.

Strawberry is a four-time World Series champion; however, he made it clear that his standout baseball career isn’t what he revels in today.

“I can stand on this platform and not celebrate a baseball career but celebrate a life that’s making a difference in society,” Strawberry said.

Strawberry is in 14 years of recovery after being addicted to drugs and alcohol for most of his adult life. He began consuming alcohol and using marijuana at age 13.

“It’s more just than using,” he explained. “It’s trying to escape.”

Strawberry said he grew up with an abusive father, who also struggled with addiction. He now operates and owns two treatment centers in Florida and works to get to the cause of his patients’ drug use.

“We’re not dealing with the root problem; we’re just putting a Band-Aid over it,” Strawberry said. “We haven’t dealt with the real brokenness on the inside.”

But how do you fix the most destructive opioid epidemic in American history? Strawberry said it comes down to three things: teamwork, education and love.

During a panel following Strawberry’s talk, Dr. David Nash, founding dean of the Jefferson College of Population Health, asked him how treatment for opioid and other drug abuse can be made most effective.

“Love people from within a different place than you can ever imagine because it’s either life or death with them,” Strawberry said. “These people entering treatment have more problems than you can ever imagine. They can be rescued. It takes a team effort and education, but you cannot be selfish. It cannot be about you. It has to be about the bigger picture.”

Strawberry’s book, “Don’t Give Up on Me: Shedding Light on Addiction,” was released last fall.

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