Alumnus Wil Burton ’05 recently received the Randall M. Dana Award of Excellence for his work in the field of clinical and consumer care for people with addictions from the Alcohol Drug and Mental Health Board of Franklin County. As manager of outcomes and community engagement at the Maryhaven Addiction Stabilization Center in Columbus, Ohio, Burton “facilitates constructive dialogue and promotes understanding in the community regarding addiction, stigma, and recovery.” He provides trainings in the use of naloxone—a non-addictive prescription treatment used to counteract the effects of opioid overdose—working closely with community groups, nursing programs, law enforcement, and emergency and public health organizations. “We work to help foster a culture of inclusivity that emphasizes compassion, patience, and respect both inside and outside of our facility,” he said.
The Addiction Stabilization Center opened in January 2018 with a 57-bed facility, becoming a national model to provide EMS personnel a place to bring patients immediately post-overdose with more than 3,000 admissions since opening. “The biggest point of pride for me is that we provide substance use disorder treatment that is not based on ability to pay,” said Burton. “We never turn someone away because they are uninsured. We believe that treatment and recovery should be available for all individuals.”
Though it was his second bachelor’s degree in nursing from Capital University that led him to the field of addition medicine, Burton, who majored in history at Wooster, said he developed his sense of social conscience at the College. “Wooster helped provide a broader worldview and understanding of the importance of diversity in a number of settings,” he said. “It helped foster a social conscience and the need to advocate for populations that do not have appropriate access to treatment and who face inappropriate hurdles based on socioeconomic status, race/ethnicity, gender identity, and mental health.”
With the support of his team, Burton is part of the force working against the opioid crisis. “My hope is that as a community (and as a larger society) we begin to see the importance of unconditional positive regard when working with individuals battling substance use disorder or any mental health issue,” he said, “and that we take the time to talk to each other about these difficult subjects in a way that respects each person’s experience and point of view.”