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Georgia Recovers

“Georgia Recovers” represents an intentional effort to shift the paradigm in which the underlying health of individuals, families and communities is emphasized and enhanced in contrast to the fear- based, hopeless messages that focus exclusively on the problem. 

The Problem

For decades, the devastation and heartbreak of addiction in our country, our state, our communities and our families has been ubiquitous. Many of us feel the devastation on an individual level and all of us are affected on a more systemic level. Jails and prisons are rife with people who have a substance use disorder, child welfare systems are feeling the impact in the number of children needing foster care, hospitals emergency rooms are treating record numbers of individuals for overdose, and treatment and recovery programs are seeing an increase in people seeking recovery for opiate use disorders.  
In this country, more than 130 people a day are dying from opiate overdoses alone, and Georgia’s share of those tragic deaths are between 3-4 citizens per day. There is broad consensus that something needs to be done.  

The Solutions

We have seen an influx of federal and state resources targeted at prevention, treatment and recovery efforts. Georgia is part of a lawsuit aimed at holding pharmaceutical companies responsible for promoting irresponsible prescribing practices. We have passed legislation promoting the use of overdose reversal drugs and providing legal amnesty for an individual reporting an overdose they are witnessing. We have passed legislation to create and maintain a prescription drug monitoring program. And we have embarked on an cross-system, comprehensive Multi-Stakeholder Opioid and Substance Use Response Plan that has brought attention to the issue and developed a strategic plan with recommendations to address this public heath crisis. 

Our Approach

Research shows that misperceptions are formed when people observe a relative minority of individuals engaging in highly visible problem behavior and remember it more than responsible behavior that is more common but less visible. These misperceptions are assumed to be the norm and are spread in conversation, in media and through many other ways we communicate. We do not have to look far to see people struggling with substance use disorders and the harm felt by families and communities. These messages are in the news, all over our social media, in our music and they make us feel we have much to fear. The messages, coupled with the heavy stigma often associated with addiction, would have us believe is that there is no hope.
What we do not typically see is what is on the other side of the fear and stigma. The Georgia Council on Substance Abuse (GCSA), in partnership with the Georgia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities (DBHDD) have created a multi-media campaign called “Georgia Recovers” to help change the social norms surrounding substance misuse and addiction. The statewide campaign will consist of billboards of individuals in long-term recovery sharing a positive message of hope, a website with a link to video stories, and information about where to find further recovery supports. 

What You Can Do

Educate yourself and others – Education about substance misuse and substance use disorders is key. 
We aware of your attitudes and behavior – We’ve all grown up with prejudices and judgmental thinking. But we can change the way we think! See people as unique human beings, not as labels or stereotypes. See the person first, not the disorder.
Choose our words carefully – The way we speak can affect the way other people think and speak. Don’t use hurtful or derogatory language.
Focus on the positive – People with substance use problems make valuable contributions to society. Our health problems are just one part of who qw are. We’ve all heard the negative stories. Let’s focus on the positive
Support people – Treat people who are struggling with substance use disorders and problems with dignity and respect. 
Include everyone – Be an ally!

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