The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) delineates four major dimensions that support a life in recovery: Health, Home, Purpose, and Community.
• Health: Overcoming or managing one’s disease(s) or symptoms.
• Home: A stable and safe place to live.
• Purpose: Meaningful daily activities such as a job, school, volunteerism, family caretaking, or creative endeavors. And the independence, income, and resources to participate in society.
• Community: Relationships and social networks that provide support, friendship, love, and hope.
This year’s theme for the New York State Recovery Conference: The Journey to Recovery Wellness: Home, Health, Community and Purpose, was modeled from SAMHSA’s four major dimensions. These dimensions are also applicable to FOR-NY as we develop our 2019 Policy statement.
1) Health. What are the components of health that support people in recovery and what needs improvement?
How does the NYS Health Care System support or hinder people in recovery or seeking recovery? In the last year we advocated for change so health insurers honor parity through passage of the Substance Use and Mental Health Ombudsman Program in the Fiscal Year 2019 Budget. Legislation also passed in the 2018 Legislative session to collect information about Parity. We will continue to track these new laws and their results. FOR-NY will also follow the Legal Action Center to stay up-to-date about the Parity @ 10 Campaign. The campaign has a new website with lots of resources including resources specific to NY!
Treatment of people with Addiction in the Emergency Department
Recovery Advocates created the FOR-NY Emergency Room Survival Guide in response to the opioid crisis and the lack of appropriate treatment and connection to Recovery Support Services. The guide includes a link to the letter co-written by NYS OASAS and NYS DOH explicitly stating that Emergency Departments may prescribe up to three days’ worth of Medication Assisted Treatment. The letter also encourages EDs to link up with Peers. FOR-NY will continue to work with the policy committee to advocate for needed changes in policies, procedures and culture in treating the addicted population in the ED.
Medication Assisted Recovery
FOR-NY is committed to ending negative public perception in order to support efforts to increase Medication Assisted Recovery (MAR). MAR is a proven method to decrease opioid use and opioid-related overdose deaths (NIH.gov). FOR-NY supports several bills in the NYS Legislature that ensure that patients suffering from drug and alcohol dependency receive appropriate care, by requiring that health insurers provide coverage of opioid addiction medications without prior authorization.
Supporting Alternatives to Opioids
FOR-NY supports policies which prevent addiction and which provide individuals with the necessary tools to manage chronic pain by providing greater access to alternatives to opioids. For example, physical therapy and counseling services play pivotal roles in the treatment of chronic pain and are evidence based, non-pharmacologic alternatives to opioids (Mintken, Moore and Flynn, 2018).
2) Home. In order for someone to be able to support their recovery, they need a safe place to call home.
One of the most pressing issues the Recovery Community faces is access to safe, affordable recovery housing. Recovery-supportive houses provide both a substance-free environment and mutual support from fellow recovering residents. Many residents stay in recovery housing during and/or after outpatient treatment, with self-determined residency lasting for several months to years. Residents often informally share resources with each other, giving advice borne of experience about how to access health care, find employment, manage legal problems, and interact with the social service system. (National Council for Behavioral Health, 2018) While recovery residences may vary in structure, all are centered on peer support and a connection to services that promote long-term Recovery. (White & Cloud, 2008). FOR-NY supports a standardized certification of recovery housing which include access to Medication Assisted Recovery. FOR-NY welcomes an opportunity to take part in discussions about implementing standards for recovery housing based on the outline provided by the National Alliance for Recovery Residency. FOR-NY also supports the creation of a task force to collect and review information about the efficacy of safe recovery housing and develop proposed policies to recommend to the NYS Legislature.
People in Recovery contribute vastly to the local community. In FOR-NY’s Fall of 2017 Life in Recovery Survey, of those who considered themselves to be people in recovery:
• 62% of people volunteered in their community and/or civic group
• 65% voted in elections
• 58% furthered their education and/or training and 56% were steadily employed.
Stable employment is likely to “strengthen a person’s resilience to prevent or overcome substance use difficulties” (Davis, et al., 2015), as well as contributing to the community. Unfortunately people with histories of addiction or histories with the criminal justice system that are connected to their addiction, often face barriers to finding employment (Curran 2017). FOR-NY supports policies to give employers incentives to hire people in recovery including legislation which offers a tax credit for employers hiring a person in recovery. People in recovery are capable of an amazing life, but we need the tools to be able to access that life.
FOR-NY supports building Recovery Capital within each community. One way to build Recovery Capital is to build community resources and provide opportunities for people to access those resources. FOR-NY supports building a peer network as well as establishing Recovery Community Organizations, Recovery Community and Outreach Centers, youth clubhouses, recovery high schools, and 24/7 access centers to connect people to needed resources. With these resources and Peers—the glue—to connect people to the resources, the community will have the tools to support recovery in the community. FOR-NY requests adequate funding to support the establishment of these resources in every county.
These ideas are just a start and they are based on surveys collected as well as information gathered through traveling the state. However, this is by no means a final policy statement. FOR-NY welcomes the opportunity to continue to expand on our policy goals through the Fall by working with our Policy Committee. We encourage the NYS Recovery Community to get involved and let their voices be heard!
What are the needs in your community? What policies do you think need changing? Email our Director of Policy Allison Weingarten at [email protected].