Happy National Recovery Month!
September is National Recovery Month; a time for education and celebration. Since 1989, people with lived experience, loved ones, treatment professionals, and community supporters have come together annually to declare that prevention and treatment work, and that recovery is a reality. As Rhode Island continues to grapple with the overdose epidemic, we have an opportunity to share what we have learned, acknowledge those who have helped create change, engage with those who have been affected, and recommit to doing more.
This year's Recovery Month theme is "Join the Voices of Recovery: Invest in Health, Home, Purpose, and Community". This month, and every month, we are working towards integrated, evidence-based approaches to substance use and substance use disorders in Rhode Island. We need to ensure that healthcare professionals, community members, elected officials and other stakeholders are at the table to help inform effective policy reform.
Substance use disorders are a public health crisis, and we must address them through this lens if we are truly committed to saving lives. The “War on Drugs” has been an abject failure, contributing to mass incarceration, destroying families and communities, and increasing loss of lives. Experts know that there are evidence-based, effective approaches that help people avoid substance use disorders and help people who experience them to gain and sustain recovery. Our family members, friends, and neighbors deserve these opportunities.
Too often, policymakers are more concerned with politics than doing what is right or what is effective. We saw this clearly as a drug homicide bill, “Kristen’s Law”, passed despite overwhelming opposition from the medical, treatment, and recovery communities. Although disappointed in the outcome, there is reason for optimism. We met legislators who recognize the urgent need to enact evidence-based approaches to substance use policy in Rhode Island in order to save lives. We look forward to continuing this work and creating progress to celebrate in 2019.