The Connection Between Prevention & Recovery
Updated: Oct 5
Written by Mike Massuli
NATIONAL RECOVERY MONTH
September is National Recovery Month and Cecil County has been celebrating! 2020 marks the 10th anniversary of Cecil County’s recognition of Recovery Month. Beginning in 2010 as a single event, the Cecil County Recovery Walk & Block Party, September in Cecil County has become a month-long celebration of people living in recovery from substance use disorder. This year, despite challenges presented by COVID-19, there are events planned on twenty-two out of thirty days.
RECOVERY IS REAL, PEOPLE DO GET BETTER
Recovery Month provides an opportunity to shine a light on the fact that recovery is real. Recovery happens and more frequently than many people realize. Through a combination of a personal desire to change and having timely access to appropriate supports, people in Cecil County are finding and maintaining recovery daily.
Recovery Month is also a time to promote the network of community partners and services that exist locally to help people achieve recovery. From crisis intervention to treatment to recovery support, Cecil County has become a leader in developing and implementing innovative programming. Further, services are available in Cecil County to meet an individual’s needs in a way that is accessible when they are needed. Some examples include:
· Harmony – Cecil County’s comprehensive harm reduction program that provides service to individuals who might actively be using substances. These resources prevent the spread of infectious disease, wounds and infections, and fatal overdose, all of which present a significant toll on individuals and our community.
· Treatment – Cecil County’s treatment provider community offers the full continuum of care. From outpatient therapy to residential stays to medication-supported recovery, treatment is available to suit the needs of individuals and their families.
· Recovery Support – Recovery support is crucial for long-term recovery success. These services provides crucial guidance and connection to treatment and recovery resources. Examples of recovery supports include community-based support groups, recovery residences, care coordination, and grass-roots recovery advocacy groups.
CONNECTION BETWEEN PREVENTION AND RECOVERY
In 2013, Cecil County adopted a four pillar approach to address substance use with focus on prevention, treatment, recovery support, and public safety. Recognizing that substance use affects all sectors of our community, it was clear that all sectors needed to be included in the response. The four pillar model allowed for inclusion and effective coordination of various community partners whose efforts are crucial to preventing the consequences of substance use and improving access to recovery. These partners include our local law enforcement and emergency response, schools, private non-profits, local government, health care, courts, and people with lived experience.
These pillars do not stand alone. Rather, they are all interconnected, the efforts of one supporting and making stronger contributions of the others. Perhaps nothing demonstrates this better than the life of a person in recovery.
· Public Safety – An interaction with law enforcement or emergency services can be the catalyst that helped a person in recovery connect with treatment initially. For example, in Cecil County, the Outreach to Survivors of Overdose (OSO) project is a partnership between the Sheriff’s Office, the Health Department, and Voices of Hope, Inc., in which Peer Recovery Specialists are dispatched to meet with an individual who has recently experienced a nonfatal overdose and help them engage in treatment or other supportive services. Local law enforcement and emergency services are also key partners in Cecil County’s monthly Overdose Fatality Review (OFR) team, a group dedicated to identifying opportunities to reduce overdose deaths.
· Treatment - Treatment programs vary, but all provide basic building blocks for recovery. These include education necessary to understand their illness, skill-building to successfully manage life without substance use, and development of a comprehensive recovery plan to prevent relapse. Effective treatment must be individualized to meet the individual’s needs. Length and intensity of treatment may vary, different therapy modalities may be utilized, and medications may be necessary.
· Recovery Support – Recovery support refers to those services that fill gaps that often keep people experiencing substance use disorder from pursuing, achieving, or maintaining recovery. Examples of recovery support include community outreach to bring recovery to individuals where they are, providing transportation, helping the person apply for health insurance, or assisting with vocational goals. Much recovery support is provided by Peer Recovery Specialists (PRS). PRS are individuals with lived experience in recovery as well as professional training to be able to be effective helpers. Perhaps most important, recovery support services, often provided by PRS, are crucial to help a person navigate what can be a complicated system of care to prevent relapse.
· Prevention – Most people think of strategies focused on preventing or delaying substance use in our youth when they think of prevention. While these primary prevention strategies are immensely valuable, prevention plays a significant role in all stages of substance use. During active use, there are numerous prevention efforts that are available to individuals to prevent or reduce the incidence of infectious disease, development of wounds/infections, and to prevent fatal overdose. These efforts help decrease the impact of substance use on the community by reducing the severity of consequences, financial costs, and utilization of health care resources often associated with addiction. Prevention efforts are integral to maintaining recovery as well. Like many other chronic illnesses, a person in recovery from substance use disorder must learn how to live a life that promotes continued wellness, often by reducing risk factors that could contribute to relapse. Finally, a person in recovery represents an opportunity to “break the cycle” of substance use disorder in the next generation. A parent who is living a life of recovery will be able to provide the protective factors we know are instrumental to preventing substance use disorder for their children.
LET’S CELEBRATE RECOVERY ALL YEAR
People in recovery are your neighbors, your coworkers, your friends, and your family. They are our county’s employers, health care workers, and leaders. A strong system supporting strong recovery helps everyone. Please help us celebrate and support recovery all year.