The work of AC HOPE takes place under three workgroups: Prevention, Harm Reduction, and Treatment & Recovery.
Preventing substance use disorder and related issues creates a healthier community. Prevention includes:
- Creating more supportive communities and families so fewer people self-medicate as a means to address untreated mental health issues and/or trauma.
- Controlling dispensing and access to substances.
- Supporting people to have the knowledge, attitudes, and skills they need to be informed and to make positive choices.
- Ensuring respectful and quality screening, harm reduction supports, and treatments for substance use disorder.
All elements of the community (families, schools, health care systems, law enforcement, mental health providers, faith communities, etc.) are part of prevention.
3-year goals of the Prevention Workgroup:
- Increase local policymaker support for prevention/education, especially in the school system
- Increase community focus on ACEs (Adverse Childhood Experiences) and community resiliency.
- Increase provider use of best practices (i.e. dispensing practices, trauma-informed practices, risk screenings, DHSS recommended prevention resources).
- Explore and advocate for Medicaid continuation to reduce barriers to people getting general health care.
Harm Reduction Workgroup
Harm reduction aims to improve the health and quality of life of both individuals and communities impacted by substance use. It is a way of preventing disease, promoting health, and reducing negative legal and social impacts of substance use. As a philosophy, harm reduction acknowledges the dignity and humanity of people who misuse substances by “meeting people where they are” rather than making judgments about where they should be. As a practice, harm reduction includes a wide variety of policies, programs, services, and social supports to help individuals who use substances to make positive changes without requiring that they be substance-free first.
3-year goals of the Harm Reduction Workgroup:
- Increase community awareness around harm reduction.
- Increase community distribution of naloxone.
- Increase access to and knowledge of support services (e.g. support groups, employment assistance) which are not abstinence-only as a requirement.
- Improve treatment-focused diversion practices among law enforcement.
- Establish a universal protocol for suspected opioid overdose calls (cross-agency: Emergency Medical Services, Law Enforcement, Magistrates, Courts)
- Support syringe service program development. Alternative: increase the number of harm reduction sites in the community.
Treatment and Recovery Workgroup
Treatment involves comprehensive, time-sensitive, intensive interventions delivered in a clinically-structured environment by credentialed treaters to individuals with substance use disorders and/or mental health disorders. It addresses the consequences of untreated symptoms, considering all life domains, including collaterals (family, legal, physical health), to increase the quality of life. Treatment is person-centered, evidence-based, modified as needs change, and considers the whole person. Treatment also educates on behavioral change strategies, skills development, resource connection, medication as needed, and development and use of a recovery community.
Recovery is a process of change through which individuals improve their health and wellness, live a self-directed life, and strive to reach their full potential. Even people with severe and chronic substance use disorders can, with help, overcome their illness and regain health and social function. Being in recovery is when positive changes and values become a part of a voluntarily adopted lifestyle.
3-year goals of the Treatment and Recovery Workgroup:
- Increase community (the publics’ and providers’) understanding of addiction (e.g., trauma, stigma, implicit bias, success stories).
- Increase access to peer bridger/peer support services in various settings (e.g., inpatient/emergency department, facility-based crisis, non-medical detox, jails/detention centers)
- Advocate for/explore steps for establishing a “Criminal Justice Resource Department” to promote court-ordered substance abuse treatment. [This is known to some as a “recovery court”, but is broader in scope]
- Develop comprehensive data sharing among all treatment providers and partners.