Every September, the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) sponsors National Recovery Month to raise awareness and understanding of mental health and substance use disorders, and celebrate people who are living in recovery. As we head into October, we wanted to reflect on Recovery Month and the importance of educating the public about drug addiction, treatment and recovery.
The nation’s opioid epidemic is harrowing – the numbers are staggering, and you’ll be hard pressed to encounter anybody who isn’t aware of it. In fact, awareness of the issue is at an all-time high thanks to the efforts of recovery providers, survivors, journalists and concerned citizens in making their voices heard. Initiatives like National Recovery Month serve as a powerful reminder of the importance of education. Addiction is a disease, not a choice. Wide-spread understanding of the complexities of the disease can go a long way towards eradicating the harmful stigma that prevents many people from seeking treatment.
According to our vice president of clinical development, many people have a co-occurring disorder (COD) meaning they have a substance use disorder and a mental health diagnosis. Taking care of both is critical to achieving and sustaining recovery. We continue to take big steps in that direction here at Spectrum with strategic new hires, a new trauma informed care certificate program for employees and more.
Efforts across the state have also resulted in big changes. Our partners at the Gloucester Police Department developed the Police Assisted Addiction and Recovery Initiative ANGEL program – an approach that has been adopted by a number of other towns. The Massachusetts Department of Public Health has worked hard on initiatives like prescription monitoring and improved medical school training on prescription drug misuse. Education and improved access to the overdose reversal drug, nalaxone, commonly referred to as Narcan, is saving lives every day.
The result? Opioid-related deaths in Massachusetts have declined by 5 percent in the first half of 2017. While this is a positive trend, there’s a long way to go, and a lot of work yet to be done. Let’s all continue to fight this epidemic with everything we’ve got.
If you or someone you love needs help for an addiction, learn more on our website or call us at (800) 366-7732 for inpatient services and (800) 464-9555 extension 1161 for outpatient treatment.