America Recovers would aim to end the stigma of addiction and get people into recovery. So how come it’s only happening in Georgia?
The Peach State just launched a new public service initiative. It’s called Georgia Recovers. And it aims to reduce the stigma surrounding addiction and encourage people to seek help for alcohol and drug problems. The campaign will incorporate billboards, social media messaging and videos, as well as a website. It might also prove to be a game-changer in the battle against alcoholism and addiction.
The campaign is a joint effort between the Georgia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities and the Georgia Council on Substance Abuse. And it makes Georgia the first state to lead such an addiction recovery marketing campaign.
“We have to highlight success,” DBHDD’s Judy Fitzgerald told Atlanta-based WABE. We also have “to showcase what’s possible.”
Tata-Nisha Frazier is one of those successes the campaign will be highlighting. Frazier had lost custody of her children because of her addiction to drugs and alcohol. Now the recovered addict has not only regained custody, but she’s a communications coordinator for the Georgia Mental Health Consumer Network. Frazier also happens to be the face on the Georgia Recovers billboards.
“I live my recovery out in the community,” said Frazier. So it makes perfect sense she’d get to be seen all across the state.
Frazier and 19 other “recovery stars” helped launch Georgia Recovers at a state capitol press conference. Also on hand were state officials and lawmakers, as well as a heaping helping of family members, friends and community leaders.
Among the lawmakers were House Speaker David Ralston (R-Blue Ridge), Rep. Sharon Cooper (R-Marietta), Rep. Houston Gaines (R-Athens) and Sen. Renee Unterman (R-Buford), as well as Rep. David Wilkerson, (D-Powder Springs).
Addiction recovery “is not a Democrat issue or a Republican issue,” said Wilkerson. “It’s a Georgia issue.”
It’s also an American issue.
Georgia Recovers embraces what Rep. Ralston called “the redemptive power of recovery.” And while the message “has been too long in coming,” it arrives not a moment too soon.
“It’s never too late to ask for help,” he said.
Ralston also said Georgia is harnessing more government funding for treatment, recovery and mental health programs. And that harnessing seems to be working wonders.
“We have some 800,000 Georgians living in recovery,” he said.
Georgia also has more people living to get a chance at recovery. Indeed while Georgia’s overdose rate jumped 14% between 2017 and 2018, the state’s overdose death rate by nearly 12%. A significant accomplishment by any measure.
Much of Georgia’s overdose death rate decline can be attributed to the mothers of overdose victims who helped bring about 2014’s 911 amnesty law. Much of the state’s increased addiction treatment population is likely due to its more recent needle exchange program creation law. Both however owe a distinct portion of their success to law enforcement’s more enlightened perspective.
“We can’t arrest our way out of this problem,” said Marietta Police Chief Dan Flynn. Sure authorities must continue to crack down on drug dealers and traffickers, but “treatment and recovery is a far more effective strategy for fighting the epidemic.”
Whatever the reason, it’s clear Georgia is doing something right regarding addiction and treatment. It’s also clear that Georgia Recovers will exponentially advance said something. And we at Healing Properties would like to applaud the state for its robust substance abuse initiatives. There is such a thing as effective recovery. And it’s heartening to hear that the powers that be are starting to see it too.
Remember, if effective recovery is possible for Floridians and Georgians; then it’s possible for all Americans. We know it, because we see it every day. We may not have called our campaign America Recovers. But that’s our goal. In fact, it’s been our goal since 2002. And it’ll be our goal until America recovers completely.