2017 New Year, New Futures
Being a social work professional who specializes in substance use disorders, I have witnessed successes of treatment on a regular basis. Treatment success is illustrated in the following examples: the woman who finally connects her addiction to her history of trauma, or the mother in early recovery who finally recognizes she is a good parent; allowing them both to begin to manage their recovery more effectively. While this is often the feel good part of this position, there are still times I am staggered by the challenges which make it difficult for those in need to access treatment quickly and the lack of providers to make treatment possible.
In 2016, I watched as successful policies turned the tide on many substance use treatment issues. These policies included funding the development of recovery housing and the ability for standard Medicaid recipients to access substance use treatment benefits. The roll out of these policies brought moments of celebration - belief that change can happen.
Yet, the reality is that these two policies are not enough, there are more policies that if passed or fully funded can make a difference.
For instance, if the Alcohol Fund were fully funded the entire recovery continuum of care could have an even greater impact. Additional funding would allow the implementation of many evidenced based practices that New Hampshire could use to effect treatment outcomes. There are treatment providers across the state, ready to pilot new programs, demonstrate the variety of tools and outcomes for treatment that can support recovery and reach populations that need specialized treatment focus, such as veterans, pregnant and parenting women, and young adults. The Alcohol Fund can begin to support these initiatives if fully funded in 2017.
Additionally, there needs to be policy focused on advancing behavioral health workforce development. The field of treatment providers has become quite stagnant. The following policies can help grow the workforce and support providers currently in the field:
- Removal of practice barriers to professional licensure
- Support programs to encourage students to pursue professional licensure to treat individuals with substance use disorders
- Support incentives for existing practitioners to include substance use disorder treatment among their offered services
It is imperative we move into the New Year with the goal of supporting and realizing these policies - for when we support these initiatives, we are showing people struggling with addiction and in recovery, that they matter.
- Stephanie Savard, LICSW
Chief Operating Officer
Families in Transition
This piece was submitted to New Futures as part of the series Wishes for NH in 2017: A New Future in a New Year. In this series individuals from the prevention, treatment and recovery sectors discuss what they wish for in regards to substance use disorder policy change for 2017.