Towards the end of my opioids/fentanyl presentation, I speak about the need for action and removal of silos. Law enforcement, prevention, treatment, recovery, medical, scientific –everyone keeps in their own lanes. I can recall my own frustrations when I was with the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). Some people refused to even take my call.
This needs to change. Drug poisonings cause 300 deaths a day. This is a national emergency and solutions will require a collaborative effort. We all want our voices heard, valued, and considered – but we are stronger and more effective when we unify and work together. We must tear down the walls, eliminate the silos, and work together.
Working together requires intentional effort, open communication, and often a change in culture. It is not only possible, but also imperative. We must do this.
We must establish clear and common goals. When everyone knows they are working towards the same objective, cooperation becomes a practical necessity.
We must learn what each other does in their effort to end drug poisonings. Each discipline offers a diverse perspective. “Walking in someone else’s shoes” can foster respect, empathy, and trust. This makes our collaborative efforts more effective and insightful and further strengthens our understanding that we all want the same outcomes.
We must talk to each other. Organize meetings, even social events. These environments can help break the ice and build personal connections, making future collaboration easier.
We must listen. Share your thoughts. Be transparent. When we do not agree, openly and constructively discuss these disagreements. Always remember we are working towards the same goals.
We must adapt. What works for one organization or community may not work for another. Continuous improvement is key.
To the leaders in each perspective organization or discipline – collaboration often starts at the top. Leaders should set the example by participating in collaborative efforts and breaking down any hierarchical barriers that may exist in communication or decision-making. They should also actively address any "us versus them" mentality if it arises.
By embracing these strategies and mindset, we can break down the walls that keep people and ideas isolated. It's a continual process that requires effort, patience, and commitment from everyone involved.
I will continue to work with anyone and everyone. My journey from law enforcement to training, prevention, and awareness has opened many doors, partnerships, and friendships. I believe in what we are doing.
I know not everyone will take my call, but the work is too important.
We must do this.
- Brian Townsend, Eagle 6 Training