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City Hosts Events for National Recovery Month

September 5, 2018

In observance of National Recovery Month, Cambridge is hosting events in September to raise awareness about mental and substance use disorders, celebrate individuals in recovery, and acknowledge the work of prevention, treatment, and recovery support services.

Cambridge Recovery Month activities are hosted by the Cambridge Public Health Department, the Mayor’s Office, and the City Manager’s Office. For additional events in Cambridge and Boston, see the Mayor’s event listings.
“Prejudice and stigma are strong barriers to entering substance use treatment,” said Claude Jacob, the city’s chief public health officer and director of the Cambridge Public Health Department. “We want to talk about treatment and about recovery in our community to remove that stigma and encourage the idea that recovery is possible.”
In 2017, there were 12 confirmed opioid-related deaths among Cambridge residents compared to the previous year where 27 residents died from overdose in 2016. Encouragingly, the state’s overdose death rate fell in 2017 for the first time in five years, and this trend appears to be continuing this year both statewide and in Cambridge.
In response to the crisis, the Cambridge city manager created a new working group earlier this year to review disease surveillance data, identify best practices about opioid-related prevention, intervention, and treatment activities, and share information about the chronic nature of addiction.
“National Recovery Month provides us with an opportunity to raise awareness about the ongoing opioid crisis and to reinforce that recovery from substance use disorders is possible.” said City Manager Louis A. DePasquale. “I want to thank the members of my administrative working group for their work to address the impacts opioids are having in our community.” 
Cambridge is already involved in efforts to encourage and maintain residents’ recovery. For the past two years, the Cambridge Police Department’s P.A.R.T.N.E.R. (Providing Access to Resources, Treatment Needs, and Education for Recovery) Initiative has been following up with people with addiction disorders and supporting those individuals who decide to enter treatment. The police department hired a part-time recovery coach in 2018, enhancing the department’s coaching and intervention services, which also includes a licensed social worker working in collaboration with the department’s Special Investigations Unit and patrol officers.
“It is critical that people experiencing substance use disorders receive the support they need,” said Mayor McGovern.  “The reality is that behavioral health is essential to physical health, prevention works, treatment is effective, and people can recover.”
In addition, the Cambridge Public Health Department will release an advertising campaign on BlueBikes stations throughout the city. Posters at bike stations will promote safe medication disposal to discourage diversion and encourage residents to call 911 for emergency services in case of an overdose.
For more information, contact Tali Schiller, Substance Use Prevention Coordinator at the Cambridge Public Health Department at naschiller@challiance.org.


Light Up City Hall Purple

First Week of September

City Hall will be lit purple during the first week of September to commemorate International Overdose Awareness Day and remember friends and family who have died from the disease of addiction.

Opioid Exhibit

September 5

The Cambridge Police Department’s efforts to help people with opioid addiction will be featured in the exhibit “RESILIENT: Narratives of Hope from Boston’s Opioid Crisis” on Sept. 5, from 5-7 p.m., at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. It will feature insights from the communities on recovery and change. To attend, an RSVP is encouraged.

A Celebration of Life and Survival

September 13

A memorial to honor those we have lost to overdose and to celebrate the lives we have saved together as a community, hosted by the Access Drug User Health Program on Sept. 13 from 5:30 p.m.–7:30 p.m. in Carl Barron Plaza in Central Square. Overdose prevention trainings will be offered as part of the event.


Runnin’ Documentary Screening

September 17

The Cambridge Public Library will screen Runnin’, a documentary about a group of Somerville friends devastated by the opioid epidemic, on Sept. 17 at 6:30 p.m. in the library's main lecture hall.  In the film, director Alex Hogan shares stories of friends that he has lost to the disease of addiction and interviews other friends who survived and are now in recovery. Hogan will be present for a Q&A after the free screening.

PARKing Day

September 21

At PARKing Day on Sept. 21, Cambridge Public Health Department staff will share information with the community about recovery and offer free overdose trainings at 350 Main Street in Kendal Square.  

Suzy Feinberg, MPH
Public Information Officer

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