On September 28, I had the pleasure of participating in the groundbreaking campus expansion of Chrysalis House, along with Lieutenant Governor Rutherford and outstanding members of the Chrysalis team.
For those who are unfamiliar with the work of Chrysalis House, it is one of just a few programs in Maryland that allows women to have their children with them during residential substance abuse treatment.
I was surrounded by many women who are on their journey to recovery. I heard testimony from a few of the residents who have fought this battle. Not only are these former residents sober, but they came back to Chrysalis House to help others. I left this event inspired. I’m proud to say that our Anne Arundel delegation was able to help secure funding for this staple in our community.
September was National Recovery Month. It’s important to spread awareness and to learn about mental and substance abuse disorders and, of course, to celebrate those who fought it. Substance abuse disorder is an illness that can affect anyone. You should never feel ashamed or be afraid to reach out and ask for help, for you or a loved one. Substance abuse and addictions are often not discussed because of the shame and judgement associated with these topics, yet it’s the shame and stigma that cause substance abuse and addiction to persist.
I have always been a huge advocate for finding creative solutions. It’s important for policymakers to consider individuals’ level of access to these programs. Although this pandemic has taken away resources from many industries, it has also raised awareness about the epidemic and rise of mental illness and substance abuse. The fact remains, this epidemic never went away, and we must continue to be proactive. I implore the county to redirect the $5.2 million vaccine bonus, paid by taxpayers, to this worthy cause. The county can use Federal American Rescue Plan Act funds to not only pay for the incentive but also fund much-needed treatment.
I’ll continue to work with community leaders and substance abuse researchers who advocate for access to prevention and treatment services that are notably more challenging for individuals who have socioeconomic disadvantages, child care responsibilities, justice system involvement, foster care involvement, and/or co-morbid mental health challenges, as well as those who are pregnant or live in rural areas.
Let’s not wait for next September to learn about this. Today, I encourage you to be mindful of your relationships with yourself and others. Healthy, responsible choices start with you. If you know someone who has been sober from this or that, let them know that you’re proud of them.
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