Support, Aid People in Recovery

Newspaper guest column written by William Dempsey, M.D., Deputy Chief Medical Officer at The Wright Center for Community Health – The opioid crisis continues to take a terrible toll on Pennsylvania, stealing lives and inflicting suffering on affected families as well as entire communities, including rural and urban areas in our region. Overdose deaths in the state increased last year by 14 percent over the prior year, according to recently released preliminary data.

The spike in overdoses during 2020 can be pinned, in part, on fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic, which spawned job losses, higher anxiety, greater isolation and, in some instances, reluctance to seek proper care.

Today is Opioid Misuse Prevention Day. It’s important for area residents to consider how pervasive the opioid problem has become and how each of us has a critical role to play in preventing addiction and shattering stigma. After all, we all have some sort of addiction in our lives.

All too often, outdated notions about addiction and the stigma surrounding substance use disorder continue to be major barriers to wider implementation of effective interventions — such as medication-assisted treatment — that enable recovery while preventing overdoses and deaths.

Addiction is a lifelong disease, and no two paths of recovery are the same. But through team-based, whole-person care, the energy of addiction can be rerouted to make long-term recovery possible. Patients in pain and patients with a substance use disorder need comprehensive treatment, not judgment. The key to lasting recovery is compassionate support.

For example, individuals currently undergoing treatment and living in recovery need opportunities to join — or rejoin — the workforce. For employers in the region, adopting hiring practices that consider people in recovery is one way of expanding the applicant pool during these challenging recruitment times. Plus, people living in recovery often prove to be especially loyal, motivated and hardworking employees if given the chance.

The Wright Center’s Opioid Use Disorder Center of Excellence is proud to be a part of the larger effort to address the crisis and to assist area residents on their recovery journeys. Our certified addiction medicine specialists, case workers and therapists all offer hope and proven solutions.

Please consider how your words and actions can also help to lessen the severity of the opioid crisis in our region. Together, we can make Northeast Pennsylvania a more supportive, recovery-oriented community.

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