Naloxone
(iStock)

This year’s theme reminds people in recovery and those who support them that no one should ever feel alone in the journey.

This September marks the 32nd National Recovery Month, an annual observance to recognize and educate the American public on addiction and/or mental health and to promote recovery. This year’s theme is Recovery is For Everyone: Every Person, Every Family, Every Community. And it reminds people in recovery and those who support them that no one should ever feel alone in the journey. Although everyone’s journey is different, we are all in this together.

Yes, even if you’re Jewish!  

As a young child, I was told that we couldn’t become alcoholics or addicts because our faith, traditions and community served to protect us.  Fast forward many decades later in my present role as an addictions therapist; I know that while faith, family, community are protective, they are not an invincible shield. Addiction can be found in households and communities regardless of income, education, observance or togetherness.

The Jewish Addiction Resource Alliance (JARA) is a relatively new group, developed over the last few years after Jewish Family Service hosted a day filled with learning and resources. The most critical takeaway from that day? That there are members of our Jewish community who are struggling with their addictions, and there are loved ones who are feeling alone and isolated. Membership in either group transcends level of religious observance.

Maureen Lyn Bernard
Maureen Lyn Bernard

Through JARA, representatives from local prevention coalitions, treatment facilities, clergy and community members are banding together to develop innovative programming and gather resources that members of the Jewish community can feel comfortable seeking.

Of the estimated 2,684 overdose deaths in Michigan in 2020, 1,768 are attributed to opioids. This represents an increase of 16% over 2019, yet less than the nationwide average of 30% as reported by the United States Center for Disease Control (CDC).  

The Michigan Opioids Task Force and Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) have partnered in several initiatives to bring these numbers down even lower.  The MDHHS 2021 Opioids Strategy is multi-faceted in its approach with specific initiatives targeting prevention, treatment, harm reduction, criminal justice and pregnant and parenting users. The data is being used to ensure equity in access to treatment. You can read more about it at michigan.gov/opioids.

One example of this multi-faceted effort is to increase access to Naloxene, (commonly known by its brand names Narcan or Evzio), which, when used within the first 30-90 minutes of a suspected opioid overdose, can reverse the effects. Naloxene is found on all EMS responders, in ERs and in many pharmacies without a prescription. Administration is simple to learn and a short training is encouraged. In fact, anyone in the community can take advantage of a free training on Sept. 19. (See sidebar.)

While I cannot say with certainty how many lives can be saved, I will borrow this quote from the Talmud (Sanhedrin 37a), which has been requoted in Schindler’s List: “Whoever saves one life, saves the world entire.” 

Maureen Lyn Bernard, LMSW, ACSW, CADC, CCS, is a clinical therapist at Jewish Family Service.

Jewish Addiction Resource Alliance (JARA) is a coalition of organizations, agencies, congregations and people representing points along the vast spectrum of addiction and recovery. JARA’s vision is to eliminate the stigma associated with addiction within the Jewish community through education, resources and support to the individual, the family and the larger community.

For more information, contact the JFS Resource Center at (248) 592-2313 or resourcecenter@jfsdetroit.org.

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