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HEALTH, BHDDH, and Anchor Recovery Launch Media Campaign to Combat Drug Addiction and Overdose; Release Drug Overdose Death Data for 2014

As a new year begins and people think about life-changing resolutions, the Departments of Health (HEALTH), Behavioral Healthcare, Developmental Disabilities and Hospitals (BHDDH), and Anchor Recovery Community Center today launched a new campaign aimed at getting assistance to Rhode Islanders addicted to drugs and alcohol. The "Addiction is a Disease. Recovery is Possible." media campaign was launched at an event at Anchor Recovery this morning. The campaign was developed over the past several months with funding from the DelPrete Family Foundation; assistance from Providence-based public relations firm, RDW Group; the Rhode Island Broadcasters Association; and with considerable input and concept testing with members of the target audience—people in recovery from substance use disorders and their friends and family members. Campaign research with this group indicated that the most effective way to reach out to people with active addiction is to share stories from fellow Rhode Islanders with experience of successful, long-term recovery. The campaign features eight local men and women who share their personal stories of addiction and recovery. Many of them share details of getting addicted at a young age and spending time in and out of prison. Another woman, Elise, talks about losing two sons to overdose. Beginning today, the campaign can be seen by Rhode Islanders on bus advertising, posters in a variety of venues in the community, TV and radio ads, and a website,, which includes video testimonials from the eight men and women in the campaign. "Our goal is to share stories that provide hope and inspiration to our siblings, parents, children, and friends who are suffering the effects of addiction," said Director of Health, Michael Fine, MD. "With 232 apparent drug overdose deaths in 2014, these campaign messages come none too soon. We want people to know that there is help and there are people who are successful in long-term recovery." "As it is with any chronic disease, recovery and support are essential to conquering substance use disorders," said Jim Gillen, Director of Recovery Services at the Providence Center / Anchor Recovery Community Center. "Every day at Anchor we see people living rewarding and fulfilling lives in recovery. People struggling with addiction—either in their own lives or the life of someone they love—need to know there is help and there is hope." "The people who have come forward today and who will be seen all across the state in this multi-media campaign have extraordinary courage on several levels," Linda Mahoney, BHDDH Administrator added. "They had the courage to seek recovery--and they have the courage to go public with their stories. This will save lives because what they are saying is 'I was sick, but now I'm well again but there's still work to do.' Rhode Islanders can help by providing treatment, housing, employment and child care. There is so much more that we all can do." The campaign materials encourage people in active addiction to call 2-1-1, for referrals to treatment and recovery services. United Way 2-1-1 in Rhode Island provides a human connection that helps people find assistance on everything from recovery care to childcare needs, food, shelter, gambling problems and elder care services. This free and confidential service is available 24 hours a day, every day by calling 2-1-1 or visiting Another component of the "Addiction is a Disease. Recovery is Possible." campaign is an effort to educate the state's healthcare providers on how and where to refer patients for treatment and recovery services. Beginning in September of 2014, HEALTH hosted a series of six Public Health Grand Rounds, or training sessions for providers, on opioid addiction, overdose, and prescribing. The live sessions, which were also webcast and archived, allow participants to earn continuing medical education credits. They aim to teach providers how to screen for and identify addiction, how to refer to treatment, and how to use the Prescription Monitoring Program and other tools in an office setting, such as pain treatment agreements or "medication contracts" with patients who are prescribed narcotics. These agreements document a mutual understanding of prescriptions between a doctor and patient. In addition, HEALTH has hired a small group of interns who are providing on-site, in-service training to primary care providers on SBIRT (Screening, Brief Intervention and Referral to Treatment), a tool used to screen patients for problematic drug and alcohol use. A final component of the campaign targets law enforcement and first responders with training and printed materials about how to administer Narcan (an overdose antidote) and how to make referrals to treatment and recovery. In related activity, BHDDH has provided funding to the Providence Center and Anchor Recovery to make Recovery Coaches available to participating hospital emergency departments treating individuals who have survived an opioid overdose. This program connects these individuals with a specially trained Recovery Coach who can engage the patient in a discussion about treatment and recovery. Several of the men and women featured in the campaign work as Recovery Coaches through this program. Campaign materials can be found at . 2014 Data In 2014, there were 232 apparent accidental drug overdose deaths. Of those, 208 (90%) of the 231 screened cases involved at least one opioid drug and/or opioid medication. 83 (37%) of the 225 screened cases involved fentanyl. These apparent accidental drug overdose deaths were among people who appeared to be using in 31 different cities and towns in Rhode Island, affecting men and women of all ages and ethnicities, and four towns in Massachusetts: - 65 men and 67 women ranging in age from 20 to 72; - 43 people in their twenties, 64 people in their thirties, 61 people in their forties, 53 people in their fifties, and 11 people in their sixties and seventies; - 205 people were white, 26 were black, and 1 was Asian.


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