As many of you can tell from the recent news articles, social media, and perhaps your own life experiences, opiate overdoses are becoming an epidemic. In Washington County alone, we have had up to sixteen overdoses in one day. We have also suffered fatalities in some of those cases.
There are, however, many resources and a strong recovery community here. One of the resources is access to naloxone (Narcan), a progressive intervention that reverses the effects of an opiate overdose. It comes in the form of an injection or a nasal spray. Some individuals that suffered overdoses within our county were saved because naloxone was available.
I have lived in Washington County for almost 9 years. This is where my personal recovery journey truly began. I have also lost many friends that I have met along my journey. The number continues to grow. Some have been close friends, some have been family, and others are those that I had been fortunate enough to work with on a recovery/professional basis.
I have also worked in the human services field for the past 8 years, during which I have had the honor of working with many individuals who suffer from addiction. I became a Certified Recovery Specialist (CRS) and worked on a peer-based level with individuals for one year. After obtaining my Bachelor’s degree, I was promoted to case manager for Washington County’s Restrictive Treatment Program and worked in this position for two years. During my past three years of employment at the Washington Drug and Alcohol Commission I have watched this epidemic grow – exponentially – and I lost many clients to the disease of addiction. Most recently, I accepted a supervisory role with Southwestern Pennsylvania Human Services Inc. working with the mental health population. Even though I now work with a different population within the human services field, I still witness the effects of this epidemic on a daily basis.
At first glance, the data and numbers can look hopeless and very grim. Fortunately, I am living proof that with strong interventions, working a recovery program, and getting the needed treatment, people get better, the disease can go into remission and they can go on to lead successful lives.
Ashley Potts is a Team Leader at Southwestern Pennsylvania Human Services, Inc. CARE Center Crisis Program.