GOSHEN – Joining together at Catholic Charities of Orange, Sullivan, and Ulster’s Goshen Clinic location to recognize September as National Recovery Month, elected officials, support service agencies, and attendees at the recognition event reinforced this year’s Recovery Month theme – “Join the Voices for Recovery: Celebrating Connections.”
The long days of isolation and physical distancing in response to the ongoing pandemic have highlighted the need for maintaining and celebrating connections now more than ever. Both nationally and on a local level, treatment providers, law enforcement, and first responders are reporting an increase in substance use and overdoses over the past six months. Many individuals struggling with loneliness, fear, and anxiety due to the pandemic are finding themselves without the proper support network and turning to alcohol, drugs, and other substances to cope with the uncertainty.
The 2020 Recovery Month theme focuses on the critical importance of staying connected in a variety of ways in order to promote and support recovery, especially during difficult times.
Now in its 31st year, Recovery Month celebrates the gains made by those in recovery, just as we celebrate improvements made by those who are managing other health conditions such as hypertension, diabetes, asthma, and heart disease. Each September, Recovery Month works to promote and support new evidence-based prevention, treatment and recovery practices, the emergence of a strong and proud recovery community, and the dedication of service providers and community members across the nation who make recovery in all its forms possible. An estimated 100,000 people in Orange County are affected by issues of mental health and substance use, according to the Orange County Office of Mental Health.
Speakers at the Recovery Month event described the impact mental and substance use disorders have had on the community, especially in conjunction with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Service providers discussed the treatment challenges that physical distancing presented as they transitioned to telehealth services and other virtual treatment modalities. Elected officials were urged to continue their advocacy for funding to maintain treatment programs, especially as the need has been surging during the pandemic.
Welcoming guests to Catholic Charities’ Goshen office, CEO Dr. Dean Scher said, “Recovery Month focuses on destigmatizing substance use disorder and celebrating the gains made by those in recovery, much like we celebrate the health improvements made by people with other health issues, such as cancer, diabetes, or heart disease. It serves to educate Americans that substance use treatment and mental health services can help those who are struggling to live a healthy and rewarding life. It reinforces the message that self-care is essential to overall health and well-being – that prevention works, treatment is effective, and people can and do recover.”
The event emphasized the critical role that community partnerships play in affecting change so that individuals experiencing mental health and/or substance use disorders receive the support they need in order to make a life in recovery possible. In Orange County, community partners in support of recovery include all levels of government, county agencies, community-based organizations, and health care providers, as well as law enforcement and the judicial system.
“Recovery Month gives us another opportunity to address head on the serious and pervasive issue of drug and heroin abuse. Addiction not only affects the individuals taking the drug, but also impacts their family and friends. Sadly, we have seen an increase in overdoses during the COVID-19 pandemic, but my administration will continue to work in collaboration with community partners to offer treatment to people who are addicted,” said Orange County Executive Steven M. Neuhaus.
Commissioner Darcie Miller, Orange County Office of Mental Health and Social Services, read aloud the County Executive’s proclamation recognizing September as Recovery Month in Orange County, which included the following words, “we must encourage relatives and friends of people with mental and/or substance use disorders to implement preventive measures, recognize the signs of a problem, and guide those in need to appropriate treatment and recovery support services; and in this year 2020, the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic have made this year’s theme of Recovery Month – “Join the Voices for Recovery: Celebrating Connections” take on even greater meaning as all in our community strive to maintain healthy, positive connections.”
New York State Senator James Skoufis said, “On a normal day, our providers save lives and are essential to the well-being of our communities. During a pandemic, their efforts are heroic. As we begin Recovery Month, we’re reminded of just how important these agencies are and how much work we still have in front of us. To that end, we must ensure they continue to have the resources needed to serve our most vulnerable neighbors with compassion and care.”
“Opioid-related overdoses have increased dramatically during the COVID-19 pandemic, as our communities have been faced with challenging levels of economic stress and social isolation. We must continue to elevate awareness about this epidemic and work to connect individuals to the vital and lifesaving resources that are available in our communities. I am so thankful to have partners like Catholic Charities, RECAP and Cornerstone in this fight against substance use disorder that is taking such a toll on our communities. These organizations have been working non-stop during this pandemic to get people the services they need, and funding for these critical recovery services is more important than ever. At this time of great need, we should double down on our efforts in prevention and treatment,” said New York State Senator Jen Metzger.
“Today we are sending a strong clear message that addiction is not a life sentence, it’s not a terminal illness – it’s a disease that is treatable. In New York we have been working to ensure that treatment is available to all people when and where they need it. We have passed laws to maximize detox treatment time and require insurance companies to cover 14-day minimum in-patient treatment. It’s still not enough. We must continue to fight on behalf of all families who have been not touched but ravaged by addiction most especially during this pandemic. It’s never too late. For people who have tried and faltered, today is a new day. I have hope that together we can end addiction and keep our children, friends and neighbors safe and healthy,” Assembly Woman Aileen Gunther.
“I’d like to thank all of my colleagues that are here with me today for the work that they do every day to serve not just some of the community, but all of the community,” shared Linda Muller, President & CEO of Cornerstone Family Healthcare. “There is more work to be done. We must be brave as a society to demand action. We must all come together with one voice to demand funding for the critical recovery services that our community relies on. It’s a matter of life or death.”
“Much like COVID-19, addiction knows no demographics, and no one is immune. Instead, each has exacerbated the effects of the other,” said Charlie Quinn, CEO, RECAP. “In the Hudson Valley, we are fortunate to have dedicated treatment providers, strong community partners, and committed elected officials working together to maintain the overall health and well-being of our community and who value the vulnerable. It is imperative that we advocate for critical funding so we can continue to make these much-needed services available.”
Information about mental health and/or substance use services is available at:
Catholic Charities of Orange, Sullivan, and Ulster.
Cornerstone Family Healthcare