Excerpted from Robert Whitcomb's Dec. 1 Digital Diary column in GoLocal24.
Tiny Penikese Island, off southwestern Cape Cod and part of the Elizabeth Islands, has been turned into a beautiful if austere retreat for the treatment of opioid addiction, a staggering problem all over America. You can blame the addiction epidemic, in part, on pharmaceutical companies and their salespeople asserting that such newish opiates as OxyContin were not dangerously addictive and were needed to address an alleged American “pain crisis."
In the past, Penikese has hosted a leper colony, a school for troubled boys and a bird sanctuary. Its latest use is admirable, though, it should be emphasized, the facility can only take a few clients at a time – at this point only young men.
There must be some other New England islands that would serve as places where addicts can confront and overcome their demons with the help of tough but compassionate therapists and without the temptation, followed all too often by quick relapse, they’d have on a mainland. It’s hard to avoid the mindfulness and perspective you gain in such a quiet, if windy place. Not that you’d want to spend the rest of your life there.