An event in Utah drew an exuberant crowd as many celebrated their sobriety and others came to support awareness about addiction. The "Rally for Recovery" is held every year at Utah's state capitol of Salt Lake City and gathers together hundreds of people to communicate to the government the importance of prevention, treatment and recovery support and the impact they have on the lives of those with addiction.
While it is a chance for people to celebrate their own victories in recovery, it is also a way to show how crucial it is for the government to help fund substance abuse services because it personally benefits so many people in Utah. The rally also helps to raise awareness for people that have barriers in their recovery so that they can get the assistance they need in quitting a serious addiction.
Legislation to Fight Stigma and Expand Treatment
Many of the people in attendance at the "Rally for Recovery" spoke about their addictions and how grateful they are to be sober and alive after being so close to the edge. Those that suffered from addiction were able to get help for their substance abuse and in many cases for a co-occurring mental illness.
Former addicts spoke to the audience at the rally about their stories and how they were able to overcome their disease of addiction, and also how inspired they were by everyone in the crowd. Several lawmakers spoke as well because they were sponsoring bills to benefit the community in recovery.
They discussed their efforts to fund mental health and addiction treatment programs to help reduce the overwhelming numbers of opiate and suicide deaths that have been an issue throughout the nation.
One such lawmaker, Representative Steve Eliason is sponsoring a bill that would establish a needle exchange program to reduce harm to addicts and provide an opportunity to introduce them to drug treatment. This legislation has cleared the Utah House and now awaits action in the Senate.
Drug Programs to Benefit the Utah Community
Other lawmakers at the rally spoke about how much progress has been made in the government's discussion about addiction and mental health which were rarely topics for them in the past. Representative Paul Ray credited organizations and events like Rally for Recovery for bringing topics of substance abuse to the forefront so that more is done to provide people with treatment.
Senator Davis spoke about sponsoring a bill that would expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act to provide substance abuse and mental health treatment to more people in need. Many of those participating in the rally were people who had been or were currently involved in drug treatment programs in Utah. Some were sent from out of state for treatment through drug court and were grateful for the opportunity to get sober. Many even said that the Utah drug programs have saved their lives.
The rally was an event full optimism and hope but it was preceded by a more somber "Walk to Remember" outside the capitol to commemorate lives lost to addiction and mental illness. The walk was a reminder of what can happen if people are not able to receive treatment for their problems in time.
Those who are able to get the help they need can celebrate their lives and be thankful that they were able to escape the kind of tragic fate that happens so often to those who struggle with addiction. While more work needs to be done in the Senate to help expand treatment for substance abuse and mental illness, the existing drug programs in Utah have done a lot to help the community in their recovery.
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