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 2019 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.
Amidst a national crisis that claimed over 100,000 lives to preventable overdoses in 2020, the Voices Project was grateful to partner with the the Clinton Foundation, the Sandgaard Foundation, and Direct Relief International on the newly formed Overdose Response Initiative.
The goal of this multi-year initiative is to distribute free life-saving naloxone to communities in need, people who use drugs, and those most vulnerable to an overdose.
When the Voices Project took on this challenge, we knew the need for these services was substantial – and we committed to do our part to reach as many individuals and community based organizations in need across the entire country. Naloxone saves lives. Period. We need it to be more accessible – and we need more people trained on how to use it.
We’re grateful to report that the initiative has distributed 513,270 units of free life-saving naloxone in 21 states through December 31, 2021.
The overdose crisis remains one of our country’s greatest healthcare and societal challenges of all time. As we begin to prepare for the new year ahead, we wanted you to know that the Voices Project remains committed to facing this challenge head on. We’ll continue to build on the foundation of the Overdose Response Initiative to reach even more communities in 2022 – and forge new partnerships that will heal communities and save lives.