By Mayor Martin J. Walsh
I wouldn’t be where I am today without the recovery community — and I know many other Bostonians have had the same experience as me. That’s why it’s so important we create strong pathways to recovery, and why I’m proud Boston recognizes September as Recovery Month here in our City.
Recovery Month is a time when we highlight Boston’s recovery community: those who are struggling with substance use disorders, their loved ones and the care providers who support people on their recovery each day. We know that substance use disorders are a disease — and those who are suffering need our help. This month is dedicated to all those who are working to improve their own lives and the lives of others.
In 2014, more than 11,000 people received services for substance use disorders in Boston. Every one of those 11,000 people has friends, families and loved ones that are also affected. Recovery services don’t simply help those struggling with substance use disorders — they provide resources for all those impacted. That’s why in 2015, we created the Mayor’s Office of Recovery Services –– the first of its kind in the United States. It works closely with the Boston Public Health Commission (BPHC), other City of Boston departments, state and federal agencies, local service providers, and communities to build a network of recovery support throughout Boston.
Since then, we have more than doubled staff and expanded hours at the city’s access to care program, created the City’s first 24/7 recovery support hotline through 311, and added a street outreach team in our hardest-hit areas. We’ve doubled the capacity of the Mobile Sharps Team to pick up improperly discarded hypodermic needles, and began a pilot engagement center where individuals can spend time during the day, and access the many housing and recovery services offered by the city and our partners.
The Boston Public Health Commission has provided overdose prevention and naloxone trainings since 2006, training more than 10,000 civilians a year in lifesaving skills. BPHC recently launched an overdose prevention and bystander online training, which provides information about the opioid epidemic and how to recognize and respond to an opioid overdose.
As chair of the National Task Force on Substance Abuse, Prevention and Recovery Services at the United States Conference of Mayors, I know recovery and substance use disorders impacts cities across the United States. Boston is leading the way on recovery services, and our work allows us to help others in need. Just this year, I held a naloxone and overdose prevention training for a group of mayors, and shared a toolkit — Actions to Address Substance Use Disorders in America’s Cities — with fellow city leaders. Here in Boston, we know every single person can make a difference. That’s the message I’m sending to mayors around the country.
Battling substance use disorders and entering recovery — and staying in recovery — isn’t easy. You have to take recovery one day at a time. Day by day, Boston’s recovery services are helping residents. If you know someone in need, encourage him or her to call 311 to get connected with services. Know that help is out there. Boston will be behind you, every day and every step of the way.
For more services and information about Recovery Month, visit www.boston.gov/recovery.