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  • Writer's pictureKevin Phillips

Building a Supportive Community for Recovery

Updated: Mar 29

Substance use disorder (SUD) affects millions of people around the world. According to the California Department of Health and Human Services, 1 in 10 people in California meet criteria for substance use disorder. Assuming that Solano County rates are consistent with the national average, this means 45,000 people in Solano County struggle with SUD, 12,000 people in Fairfield alone.

 

Recovery from SUD is a challenging journey. Community support is a crucial part of the process. SUD not only effects individuals, but it also touches families, schools, neighborhoods, and even workplaces.

 

According to the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD), substance use by employees costs employers $81 billion annually. (Horizon Health News )

 

Everyone in our community, has a stake in supporting recovery. With the right support network in place, people in recovery find hope, encouragement, and the resources they need to navigate the path towards healing and wellness. A supportive community plays a crucial role. How can communities help?

 

It begins with education and awareness. When the community understand the nature of SUD, its causes, and its effects on individuals and families, we can reduce stigma and create an environment where those in recovery feel accepted and supported. Shame feeds an addictive process. In treatment we help people learn how to process feelings of shame, and how to address other who shame them for their disability. It is better for everyone when the community genuinely supports people in recovery.

 

Another way communities can help is to facilitate access to treatment. This begins with getting to know treatment providers in their region. Learn about how treatment works. Learn about barriers to treatment. Learn about the recovery journey.

 

Communities can also support State and County efforts to increase the availability of treatment facilities. The State of California is making major commitments to increasing the availability of treatment for all Californians. For example, we have received an almost $15,000.000.00 grant to build a new, state-of-the-art treatment facility right here in Fairfield. The City Council as well as the County Board of Supervisors have demonstrated their commitment by partnering with us to help the people in our region.

 

Communities can work to understand what people in recovery need to support their journey. They need safe spaces where they feel understood and accepted. They need the opportunity to share their experiences and to give back to the community. Community centers, churches, temples, and mosques are ideal settings where people in recovery can rebuild their lives.

 

People in recovery also need housing. This is blindingly obvious when we consider the homeless crisis in California. Most homeless Californians (82%) experienced a serious mental health condition and most of these have used alcohol or other drugs to help them cope. Pile on the trauma associated with living on the street and for many, add having to navigate their way through an overcrowded justice system.


Solving our homeless challenge necessarily demands solving the SUD challenge in our community. Developing sober living houses where people in recovery live together as a source of mutual support is a part of the solution.

       

Finally, communities can help by raising up advocates who will inform public policy. Communities can champion  initiatives that support individuals in recovery and address the root causes of addiction, such as poverty, trauma, and lack of access to healthcare.

 

By working together to enact positive change, we can create a more hopeful future for all. By fostering understanding, providing access to resources, promoting wellness, and offering ongoing support, communities can play a vital role in helping individuals achieve and maintain long-term recovery. Together, we can create a more compassionate society where everyone has the opportunity to thrive.

 

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