WASHINGTON – This past week, Congressman Dave Joyce (OH-14) joined a bipartisan, bicameral group of lawmakers led by Congressman David Trone (MD-06) to announce a historic effort to highlight National Recovery Month in Congress throughout the month of September. This effort will include events throughout the month to elevate voices in recovery as well as a Congressional Day of Action on September 16th, where legislators will lead a virtual ‘Congress Goes Purple’ initiative.
“Issues surrounding addiction and substance use disorder are complex and an unfortunate challenge for so many families across our country, especially during the ongoing pandemic,” said Joyce. “COVID-19 has brought fear, uncertainty, stress, and many other overwhelming emotions to those who face the day-to-day reality of overcoming addiction and made it more difficult for them to access care. Now more than ever, we must support our loved ones, friends and neighbors who are struggling with substance use disorder and celebrate those living in recovery. I’m proud to partner with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to highlight the importance of National Recovery Month, which will help us do just that.”
One in seven individuals experience addiction at some point throughout their lifespan, with nearly 20.2 million and 30.8 million Americans identifying as someone in recovery from a drug/alcohol use problem and a mental health issue, respectively. Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic has posed significant challenges to those in recovery due to social isolation and heightened anxiety. Community health centers have also seen revenues decline sharply, which has prevented them from operating at full strength and serving many individuals who rely on their treatment and recovery services. Additionally, resources for recovering individuals have become harder to access as many peer-support group meetings and face-to-face visits with addiction professionals have been put on hold. Furthermore, the unique circumstances surrounding COVID-19 have made it harder for those battling opioid addiction to access opioid antagonists like naloxone.
In order to help address these challenges, Joyce hosted a virtual roundtable on Tuesday with mental health experts, local recovery centers, as well as law enforcement officials and representative from Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost’s office. During the roundtable, participants discussed how best to implement an “all-of-the-above” approach to effectively fight back against addiction, support recovery and combat illicit drugs. Participants included:
- Katie Jenkins, Executive Director, National Alliance on Mental Illness Lake County
- Jonathan Lee, CEO, Signature Health, Inc
- Kimberly Fraser, Executive Director, Lake County ADAMHS Board
- Kerri Luckner, COO, Lake-Geauga Recovery Centers
- Lindsay Carr; Regional Representative for Ohio Attorney General Yost
- Carol O’Brien, Law Enforcement Representative for Ohio Attorney General Yost
- Joe Morbitzer, Superintendent, Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation
- Chief Dan Waterman, Painesville Police Department
- Lt. Toby Burgett, Painesville Police Department
- Sheriff Frank Leonbruno, Lake County Police Department
To learn more about how Joyce has urged Congressional action to combat the recent rise in fatal drug overdoses, click here.