Pueblo fighting substance use, ending stigma for treatment through exhibit

Pueblo community preventing substance use, ending stigma about treatment with exhibit
Posted at 6:31 PM, Jul 01, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-02 08:18:58-04

PUEBLO — A local community is taking on the fight against substance use and the stigma around getting treatment. It's all happening through a traveling art exhibit showcased by the Pueblo Department of Public Health and Environment.

The traveling exhibit is called "Your Words Have Power," and those words are an opportunity to educate the Pueblo community and help fight substance use.

"I think that people with substance abuse issues are just like you and me, they're humans and addiction doesn't discriminate," said Laura Lisonbee.

The exhibit shares the stories of 15 Pueblo County residents who've been impacted by substance use. Lisonbee is among one of the Pueblo County residents who shared their stories.

"I was an opioid addict for the majority of my 20's," said Lisonbee. "I started out the same way most people do, prescription medication that led me to buying even stronger prescription medication, and actually led to buying heroin on the street."

Lisonbee said she avoided seeking help because of the stigma of getting treatment.

"It's the reason that I didn't seek help for so long. I thought, will my family be proud of me? Will my friends still want to hang out with me? Will I lose my job?", said Lisonbee. "My story is a little different because I had an advanced education, and I didn't hang out with people who used."

The exhibit is now creating a conversation about ending the stigma of getting treatment, and that drug addiction can affect anyone you know.

"I would hear people say, 'you're a drug addict? You don't look like one,'" said Lisonbee.

Lisonbee has been sober for five years now and is looking forward to educating the community about her journey to sobriety. From her experiences, she's also pursued a career as the programs director for The Friendly Harbor, which provides recovery support to individuals with mental health and substance use issues.

"I was very fortunate. Not many people are, so we need to bring some education to the community, and hopefully get some more resources here," said Lisonbee.

The exhibit will be moved to different locations in Pueblo through August. Currently, it's at the Pueblo Department of Public Health and Environment. On July 17, the exhibit will be located at El
Pueblo Museum. In August, the exhibit will be at Rawlings Library. On August 21, it will be moved to Friendly Harbor.

For more information about the exhibit, click here.