On Wednesday, June 21, the Legislature is scheduled to wrap up its 2017 legislative session. As of this moment, we know that many of you have reached out in support of the Governor’s legislative package, which we hope will be adopted by members of the Senate and Assembly. Several proposals build upon our efforts to address the heroin and opioid public health crisis, and offer relief to families desperate to get their loved ones into treatment and recovery.
We are grateful to our friends who participated in the National Call-In Day on June 15, hosted by Faces & Voices of Recovery. Many of you are working hard to educate our decision makers about the significant needs of individuals and families fighting for their lives in the midst of this public health crisis. With thousands of New Yorkers in need of alcohol and drug addiction treatment and recovery supports and services, the reported cuts to Medicaid would be devastating for people who receive care through Medicaid expansion. Recent reporting from the Centers of Disease Control suggest that deaths from overdoses are likely to have increased more than 20% from 2015 to 2016. Cuts to or a roll back from Medicaid expansion would exacerbate a public health crisis into a state of emergency.
Recently, a former FBI director said that the solution to the opioid epidemic plaguing the US is greater community engagement to help spread awareness and slowly turn the tide on addiction. “We cannot arrest our way out of this problem,” he said. “We will do our part…but the problem is not going to be solved unless it is done in a holistic way.” Many of us know that prevention, treatment and recovery supports and services are the multi-pronged approach that helps communities build and sustain a culture of recovery.
We have made such progress in humanizing the chronic illness of addiction and demonstrating the power and promise that recovery brings. We are hopeful that New York’s elected officials will reflect on the inspiring stories of healing and redemption that so many of you shared have shared at Recovery Talks: Community Listening Forums, Stand Up for Recovery Day, as well as the hearings and roundtables and community events that have happened throughout the state.
Some of our friends participated on June 20 in the first #March4Recovery – a noon-time, live-streamed event that sprung from the grassroots recovery community. Participants sought to simultaneously celebrate recovery and memorialize those who have been lost to this illness. While there are some people who feel that progress is not happening fast enough, your meetings, emails and phone calls and direct action are making a difference. On behalf of the hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers struggling with addiction or sustaining and maintaining their recovery, we thank you for your passion, commitment and continued support.
No matter the outcome of this legislative session, addressing addiction as the public health crisis that it is and implementing a sustainable network of community-based recovery services must continue to be a priority – for the public and our elected officials. Change will not happen overnight. It’s going to take a multi-year commitment and an investment of millions of dollars in funding support, but the return on that investment in terms of lives, families and communities saved is immeasurable.
Let us continue our efforts to support each other and the work that we are doing in communities around New York State. And remember — “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change their world; indeed it’s the only thing that ever has”. – Margaret Mead. Each of you has your own story to tell, and as we say in our recovery messaging training, “Our Stories Have Power!” The collective power of our voices has already turned up the volume and as a result we are helping to change the conversation and providing hope to hundreds of thousands of individuals, families and communities throughout the Empire State. Together, we are making a difference for every one of them!
With gratitude for all that you do,