Martin Walsh

City Council Candidates in Recovery with a Plan

We recently published a post about Martin Walsh, the MA State Representative who has 18 years of sobriety. Last week his peer, Jack Kelly – a Boston City Council candidate – posted a great opinion piece in the Boston Globe about addiction policies.

He said, “Not too long ago, alcoholics were viewed as morally weak and unreliable, and the thought of electing anyone who had used or abused hard drugs was completely unthinkable” and praised how well the public has welcomed him and Marty Walsh in their public office and current race for Boston City Council.

Kelly says the praise they have gotten is a testament that addicts are not given up on and that this is especially important since there is not a family in America that hasn’t been touched by addiction in some way. And in response to the high rate of addiction, relapse and drug related crimes, he proposes steps to “protect public safety, preserve limited resources, and improve outcomes for addicts” in Boston – that are scalable to other cities in the US.

First, he calls for more evidence-based research on what types of treatment work – citing that treatment for a heroin-addicted male will differ from the treatment plan for a young addicted mother. He encourages the brainpower and leadership in Boston to be used to discern “which treatment programs work best for what substances and for which addicts.”

Second, he says a simultaneous effort must be made to limit access to what he calls the “prescription drug pipeline.” He uses the example of young adults using these as gateway drugs and easily obtaining them from relatives – who are prescribed way too many to begin with; “Without a doubt, drugs like OxyContin can find their way onto the streets by young people stealing from their grandparents, but that can’t possibly account from the incredible overabundance and accessibility.” To put a plug in the prescription drug pipeline, questions surrounding physician prescribing rights and pharmaceutical regulation should be asked and answered.

Lastly, Kelly says we need to focus on the demand just as much as the supply side, as “drugs are a demand-side business.” He argues for a public health and education campaign to change attitudes toward drugs – using the example tobacco, he says “it isn’t less addictive than before; it’s just not considered cool to smoke anymore so the numbers of people who do so have dropped steadily. We need a similar effort around drugs.”

Here at Synergy Group Services we have voiced similar concerns. With our addiction treatment services located in the area of Florida referred to as the “OxyContin highway,” we see the access that young adults have to prescription drugs and come in for OxyContin or Roxicet addiction treatment. We have developed a comprehensive family program to address the concerns of families touched by addiction and we use evidenced based practices to develop individual holistic treatment plans because we – like Kelly – agree that there is no one size fits all approach to treatment. Kelly says “As a recovering drug addict, I am fighting for evidence-based policies to promote safer, healthier neighborhoods, for people like me who deserve a second chance at life, and to give them and their families real hope.” And as a recovery treatment center we use evidence-based treatment to offer this second chance and hope for families.

Martin Walsh: Recovery Values Translate into Political Life

The adage that “addiction does not discriminate” rings true when we contrast addicts depicted in popular shows like Breaking Bad with others like Betty Ford. Addiction impacts everyone from the underprivileged to those in office.

We are reminded of that recently by following State Rep. Martin Walsh, the Bostonian with 18 years of sobriety who is bidding for mayor. Just as Betty Ford leveraged her recovery to encourage people to be open about addiction and seek help, Walsh is leveraging his past by saying, “Being in recovery is going to make me a better mayor…It gives me that edge every day when I get up and go out the door.”

We speculate that Walsh considers recovery an asset because it is not just about putting down the drugs and alcohol – it runs deep into the core of who people are in their everyday lives. Those that have a good program of recovery often harness spiritual principals to be better people. For example, honesty, loyalty, discipline and integrity shield people against negative and dramatic situations. In other words, spiritual principals are part of recovery because they protect addicts from the things that make them want to drink and use. These principals are also the same that make people good, desirable people – whether they are mothers, fathers, teachers or city leaders.

Being in recovery also makes people feel good because it is about being of service to others, as Walsh is. The Boston Globe said, “many more know the Dorchester lawmaker’s reputation as the go-to politician for addicts in desperate need of a treatment program or detox bed.” However, Walsh asserts “I don’t contact the people I’ve reached out to and helped.” But it turns out he hasn’t needed to – people remember those that have helped them through difficult situations and Walsh has ample support.

Martin Walsh Politicians in Recovery
Photo Via Martin J Walsh for Mayor

If you, like those who reach out to Walsh, are in desperate need of a treatment program or detox bed, Synergy Group Services can help.




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