Working in inpatient psychiatry for more than 25 years, I saw over and over the impact addiction can have on individuals, families, and communities. The vital importance of recognizing and providing support for individuals who are experiencing addiction or are in the process of recovery is increasingly honored. As noted by De Paul Treatment Centers, "every dollar spent on addiction treatment saves $12 in healthcare and criminal justice costs."
Since its inception more than 30 years ago, De Paul Treatment Centers has provided evidence-based residential and outpatient services and offered a variety of treatment programs and support services.
September was National Recovery Month. To honor those whose lives have been impacted by addiction, I attended the "Shine a Light on Addiction and Recovery" event hosted by De Paul Treatment Centers a few weeks ago. The event featured a moment of silence and reflection, a candlelight vigil, and a symbolic balloon release. A sizable crowd of supporters was present. Pictured with me are Sheila North and Kathleen Ris during the event.
I will always remember the sight of dozens of white balloons floating up and over the De Paul facility, illuminated by the moon and the urban lights so they looked like a swarm of fire bugs. The wind that messed up my hair even more than usual was perfect for sending the balloons heavenward.
I am working with Multnomah County, the Portland Police Bureau, my 911 staff at the Bureau of Emergency Communications, and others, to provide appropriate mental health services to people experiencing mental health and addiction crises in Portland. The mid-way report on the project is here. Providing a better safety net is one of the most urgent challenges of our time, with so many Portlanders stressed and not coping well with the recession. I feel privileged to be in a place and time where my experience and background can help find cost-effective solutions that save taxpayers money and help sufferers return to productive lives with jobs and purpose. Thank you to the staff of De Paul for being essential community partners.