Letter from the Executive Director Recognizing Recovery Month

September 2, 2019

Friends and Colleagues,

Over the past few years we have witnessed the opioid epidemic impact Philadelphia, but one bright message has been made clear: strong communities make for strong recovery.  Community members—including families, neighbors, employers, educators, charitable organizations, and faith-based institutions— are the backbone of communities that foster recovery among its residents. Research shows that comprehensive, wrap around support services can provide a valuable approach to guide individuals as they work to maintain recovery. This approach transforms the recovery journey from an individual working alone into a community effort. This understanding guides the work of Philadelphia Legal Assistance’s Medical Legal Community Partnership (MCLP) in Medicine Assisted Treatment programs.

Each September, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, sponsors National Recovery Month. This observance celebrates the millions of Americans who are in recovery from mental and substance use disorders, reminding us that treatment is effective and that people can and do recover. National Recovery Month reduces the stigma and misconceptions that cloud public understanding of mental and substance use disorders, which often discourage others from seeking help. The 2019 Recovery Month theme, “Join the Voices for Recovery: Together We Are Stronger,” emphasizes the need to share resources and build networks across the country to support the many paths to recovery—engaging passionate community members along the way. It reminds us that mental and substance use disorders affect all of us and that we are all part of the solution.

During the month of September, Philadelphia Legal Assistance (PLA) is recognizing National Recovery Month to celebrate recovery and encourage individuals with a mental or substance use disorder to seek treatment or recovery services to achieve a healthy, happy life.  The ongoing opioid epidemic is a reminder that mental and substance use disorders, including co-occurring disorders, can affect anyone, especially people in Philadelphia, where 3 in 10 people know someone who has died from opioid overdose. It is also a reminder that isolation and stigma fuels addiction, and that offering meaningful opportunities to engage with people with substance use disorders can be the first step in recovery.

At PLA, we believe that legal aid is a critical form of harm reduction. This why the MLCP has partnered with two community health centers - Esperanza Health Center and Delaware Valley Community Health - to serve the socio-legal needs of their MAT populations.  By partnering with medical providers, we are engaged in our clients’ recovery journeys and have the unique opportunity of providing access to critical services like public benefits and connections to low-barrier housing resources.

In addition to continuing our direct work with MAT patients, PLA will be observing Recovery Month by working with our medical partners to amplify stories of recovery and how community members have come together to address the opioid epidemic. These stories will be shared on our social media accounts and we encourage you to follow along. Our MLCP staff will also be participating in national awareness efforts like Philadephia’s National Recovery Month Walk in support of our partners at Delaware Valley Community Health. Finally, we will be collecting donations to support the MLCP expansion into MAT Programs.

Sincerely,

Anita Santos-Singh
Executive Director
Philadelphia Legal Assistance