The journey to the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia has been anything but conventional for Ralph Rodland.
A long-term recovering alcoholic and drug addict from Greensboro, Rodland is going to the convention as a Hillary Clinton delegate to shed light on substance-abuse. He plans to speak at the Caucus for Addiction Solutions about resources for those going through addiction.
“Many view opportunities such as being a delegate as something completely out of their reach,” Rodland said. “I’m just one person who is able to put my hand in the air and say that notion is false. The great majority of things happen because you show up.”
Rodland developed an interest in politics when he was 15 and saw Bill Clinton accept his second nomination for president.
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But addiction prevented him from devoting the time needed to flourish in politics, he said. After a failed suicide attempt in 2010, he began volunteering with the Guilford County Democratic Party. He is now executive director of Caring Services, a private, nonprofit agency in High Point that provides housing and support services for recovering alcoholics, addicts and their loved ones.
He accused the Republican Party of viewing substance abuse as a “moral failing” and said he sees Clinton as the candidate most likely to effect change through substantive policies.
“She has a multipronged approach that not only looks at treatment but at prevention,” he said.
Rodland said he hopes he can show people going through addiction that it is possible to recover and become involved in the political process.
“The Democratic Party wants to make sure we’re bringing in people who represent a wide array of voices,” Rodland said. “When good ideas come about, we don’t shut that door.”