Addiction is a crisis of epidemic proportions and shows no sign of slowing down. It affects people of every race, class, social group, religion, and gender. It does not discriminate. Currently, 23 million Americans are in sustained recovery from substance use disorder. Another 22 million are suffering from this highly preventable, treatable illness. One in every three households includes a person with substance use disorder; beyond the home, the prevalence of addiction affects almost everyone. From healthcare systems overloaded with people desperate for help, to criminal justice courts crammed with people who need treatment instead of jail time, our society is burdened by the stigma of addiction.
Without civic engagement, organization, and recovery advocacy, millions of people will never access the life-saving support they need. Currently, less than 10 percent of people will ever seek medical help of any kind for their addiction. Hundreds of people lose their lives daily, leaving behind family members, friends, loved ones, children, and community members. Yet, when the recovery community organizes, reform is possible. Activists have successfully accessed funding for recovery supports, effective and ethical standards for treatment, and changes to employment processes. When recovery speaks, people listen. Yet, finding solutions is delayed by lack of access to other community groups and difficulty connecting with like-minded people. We follow in the footsteps of social justice movements such as the Civil Rights movement, ACT UP, and the fight for LGBTQ rights. What we’ve learned is that policy change is crucial to keeping the hard-won gains of grassroots activists who took to the front lines in the fight for equality. With more people engaged, we make more progress. As a mobilized, civically engaged constituency of consequence, we can turn the tide of the epidemic and create sustainable change at every level that doesn’t end with a single march or fundraiser.
Our Mobilize Recovery project was spearheaded in 2018 by the Facebook Community Leadership Program and will build capacity for organized civic advocacy around the country. We will identify, train, connect, and work with recovery advocates in all 50 states. Each of these selected community organizers will have lived experience with substance use disorders. By sharing resources, coordinating our agenda, and taking action as a powerful, confident constituency, we will create change that affects millions of people in a positive way.
Overdose Response Initiative
The Voices Project, in partnership with NGO’s Direct Relief, the Clinton Foundation, and the National Alliance of Recovery Residences, launched the Overdose Response Initiative — an initiative to help bring recovery residences (also known as sober livings) to scale in providing overdose response supports.
The goal of this 3-year initiative is to provide free naloxone and digital overdose response training—along with best practices—to every recovery residence in the United States. Community organizations that provide direct services for substance use disorder are encouraged to participate. However, initial preference for the free naloxone distribution will be given to recovery residences.
There are an estimated 13,000 recovery residences in the United States. These homes tend to be a first-line of defense for people who are in early recovery from opioid use disorder. Recently, there has been a severe uptick in overdose deaths in recovery homes. Through this partnership and initiative, we hope to eliminate access barriers to the overdose antidote by providing free naloxone along with the necessary training and support for recovery homes to develop individualized overdose response protocols.
This partnership has secured a donation of one million free doses of naloxone to be provided over the 3-year life of the initiative.