We hear so many reports of overdose, death and destroyed lives and families, all falling prey to opioid drug addiction. Tragedy pervades the news reports so often that we can forget what progress looks like.
But, success does happen. On September 16, President Obama proclaimed September 18 – 24 as Prescription Opioid and Heroin Epidemic Awareness Week. The measure is a welcome recognition of decades of hard work by thousands of doctors, scientists, activists, and ordinary Americans, standing together to make a change in public perception and policy.
“[W]e stand with the courageous individuals in recovery, and we recognize the importance of raising awareness of this epidemic,” the proclamation reads.
In the proclamation, President Obama recognizes that social shame and stigma are barriers to treatment for opioid and substance use disorders. He says, “[U]nfortunately, misconceptions surrounding these disorders have contributed to harmful stigmas that prevent individuals from seeking evidence-based treatment.” He asks that we “pause to remember all those we have lost to opioid use disorder.”
We applaud President Obama’s efforts to increase awareness of the need to make drug treatment more available, and his call for Congress to provide $1.1 billion to expand access to drug treatment services. We know that sober success is possible on all levels, for every individual. And we hope that changes like this proclamation help all our brothers and sisters receive the respect and care they deserve.