This past June, Peer Advocates from across the capital region came together to assist a person who had been discharged by an inpatient treatment facility to the local Department of Social Services without any housing options including the safe housing options needed by someone just discharged from an inpatient treatment facility. The person leaving treatment was initially denied housing options by a local shelter due to a previous sanction from 2011. Through the combined efforts of Certified Recovery Peer Advocates throughout the capital region, this person was able to find housing for the weekend. This story is an example of Recovery warriors who personally and professionally invested in keeping someone alive. They worked tirelessly together so that one more person would not fall through the cracks of our Substance Use Disorder Treatment System.
This vignette left me with two main thoughts:
(1) Gratitude for those who are going above and beyond to advocate for individuals falling through the cracks of the Substance Use Disorder Treatment and Recovery System.
(2) The understanding of the need to change laws, regulations, and the hearts and minds of those who work in institutions that impact our community on a macro level to lighten the burden on those facing challenges on the micro level.
This scenario is not at all unique. I have heard from Peers in all different corners of the state that it takes an angel in the ER to get someone Detox services which include Medication Assisted Treatment and a warm handoff to a certified treatment facility. This story points out the need for Recovery Support Services and a warm handoff after treatment including:
• Medical supports to continue outpatient treatment for people with addiction including access to therapy and access to Medication Assisted Treatment, as well as access to insurance which covers such treatment (WE NEED PARITY NOW!)
• Employment supports so that a person leaving treatment can land on their two feet and financially support themselves
• Safe Recovery Housing supports
• Educational support for our young people heading back to their same school environment and needing alternative friends and activities to help them stay their course of recovery
• A leniency on sanctions and the criminal justice population in order to support those with a criminal justice background getting them the help they need to support their recovery journey
• And finally, and perhaps most importantly, linkages through Certified Recovery Peer Advocates and Recovery Community and Outreach Centers to help connect people to available services. Indeed without these wraparound services, we are setting ourselves up for failure.
I look forward to working with our Policy Committee to take a look at the laws and regulations that are in place, and to think about ways that we can make changes to support people seeking recovery all throughout the state in every stage of their recovery journey. In order to ensure that no person is ever dropped off somewhere without access to Recovery Support Services, we also need to change the hearts and minds of those in positions we depend on; our educators, treatment providers, employers, and elected officials to bring the promise and power of Recovery to the wider community.
Let’s get to work.
Allison Weingarten, Policy Director, FOR-NY