Yesterday, the Democratic National Convention (DNC) held the Caucus for Addiction Solutions, hosted by Facing Addiction. During the rousing 3 hour assembly, many speakers explained ways in which the system has succeeded and also ways in which it has failed those suffering from addiction. Many states are working on legislation that will aid those seeking recovery, and some have already instituted real change. Things such as expanding Medicaid coverage, greater substance abuse education in schools, and greater access to medication-assisted treatment (MAT) to treat opioid addiction in conjunction with other behavioral therapies. One of the speakers at the DNC Caucus, former Rhode Island Congressman Patrick Kennedy, was instrumental in passing the Mental Health Parity Act - a bill which requires that mental health is treated with the same amount of coverage as you would someone's physical health. A concept he carried over to the caucus, emphasizing how you would not wait until someone had a debilitating illness to offer to treat them, so, therefore, we should not wait until someone has committed multiple crimes in the pursuit of their addiction or wait until multiple relapses have occurred.
"...because just like Dr. King decided how and where and what to do to advance the Civil Rights cause in his day - we as a community need to support one another and identify where there are overt signs of discriminatory practices in narrow networks for behavioral health providers you would never find if it were cancer, or cardiovascular disease or diabetes [. . .] And God forbid we ever treat these illnesses like we have been treating them in the past. Where we say 'Oh, guess what? We know you have a history of mental illness, we know you come from a traumatic background, and by the way, we know that there is violence in your family and we know that one of your family has suffered from this illness. But we're going to gamble on you ultimately coming back to us, so we won't do anything until you develop a really deep-seated addiction and we may cover you and we may say to you, it's not Stage 4 yet so we can't really cover it.' That would be laughable if it was diabetes."
Mental health and substance abuse are also inextricably linked as either the cause or effect of the addiction. Chirlane McCray has made great strides in the city of New York. A proponent of ThriveNYC, a resource site for New York City residents to find access to mental health; for not only mental health but also substance abuse, at every age and every type of insurance level. The intersection of mental health and addiction recovery is quite obvious in all the personal stories that were shared at the DNC Caucus - the anxiety, the shame, the fear. All stories that seemed to share one common thread, that when they embraced and we honest with themselves and with others about their addiction, they thrived. When you properly treat all aspects of illness, one can truly have a chance to succeed and have an effective recovery. If you would like to learn more, you can watch the entire DNC Caucus HERE. In addition, there is an opportunity for you to share your story of addiction and also you may find your local representative HERE and HERE call their office or tweet them the change you would like to see happening in your state.
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