Did you know:
- The number of weekly opioid related overdoses for Washtenaw County residents has more than doubled since 2015.
- The median age for overdose patients in the county is 35.
- Of the 329 Total Deaths in our county since 2011, the Ypsilanti area has suffered the worst losses.
One of the major barriers to achieving food security in our community is the epidemic of addiction. In recent years the use of some particularly harmful drugs has increased at alarming rates. Any serious look at ending hunger in Washtenaw County has to take considerable steps to make our community as a whole a healthy place for those individuals in recovery. The relationship between addiction and food insecurity is real. Many times people who struggle with a substance addiction choose their addiction over food. Addictions can destabilize a person’s life. Additionally, being food insecure can contribute to triggering a relapse.
It is critical for guardrails to be created to prevent people from falling into addictions. There have been great efforts in our community to strengthen the recovery community, but there are also tremendous needs. The path to recovery is different for every person. The most important resources are hope, love and care. They require a whole community that can pave the way and walk along the journey. When a community member begins the process of recovery, they are similar to a plant that has been taken from toxic soil and replanted. If there is any hope of the plant thriving, it needs to be planted in rich, healthy soil. For someone in recovery, this means having a community that is willing to support them in tangible ways: employment, affordable housing, accessible transportation, counsel/recovery meetings, and a network of people who care about them. A community that is seeking to support the recovery community seeks to identify the potential threats, addresses them, sees opportunities and fervently pursues them.
There are a remarkable number of resources and organizations involved in the recovery community in Washtenaw county. We have listed a full resource list on our webpage. A great place to get started is with Dawn Farm. Not only does Dawn Farm offer a fairly comprehensive list of programs to help people into and stay in recovery, they also provide great educational resources to help community members understand addiction and how they can help. Similarly, for those interested in getting involved, Community Mental Health offers recovery coach training for people who want additional training.
As we have talked to partners and allies in the community the following needs have emerged repeatedly as urgent needs:
Transitional housing in Ypsilanti. Although there is a concentrated effort throughout Washtenaw county to provide housing for the recovery community, there are largly limited to Ann Arbor. Ypsilanti (and other surrounding areas) tends to be associated with one’s addiction, while Ann Arbor is associated with recovery. We join in the long-term work of providing housing outside of Ann Arbor.
Debunking the stigma attached to recovery. Although there has been progress in regards to accepting and understanding the recovery community, there remains a strong stigma attached to recovery. Needing recovery is too often seen as a moral failure and individuals are shamed for having a “problem” they cannot handle on their own. We support work for a deeper understanding of addiction, as well as a willingness to recognize one’s own vulnerabilities.
Bus tokens! This is a very tangible way to help. As part of the recovery process, individuals are encouraged not to have a car for at least one year after their initial start of treatment. This means that they have to rely on public transportation. There can be a lot of anxiety, as well as financial burden, that can incur during this time. Donating bus tokens is an easy but very effective way to communicate to our friends in recovery that we see them and want to support them in short-term and long-term ways.
As we support a person in recovery, we must always rely on a vision of hope. We must see with these eyes the person they can become and work to clear the best path toward that goal. We must always promote steps that will both reduce the harm in their current situation and also move them a step forward towards the hopeful vision of a flourishing life.
Learn More about Addiction by participating in our OCTOBER EVENTS on supporting the recovery community.
If you need help getting into recovery or need additional supports please check out our RESOURCE PAGE.