Substance abuse and prevention continues to be a top community issue. We know that students are starting to drink at a younger age and 17% of adults report binge or excessive drinking in the last month. Earlier reduction in smoking rates in 2006, have reversed, growing to 23%.

For the last five years, addiction to painkillers and other opiates is outpacing alcohol as the primary drug of choice. Over 50% of admissions for treatment locally were for opiate dependency, including prescription drugs. The recent Health and Human Service Council Summit spotlighted the struggles our community faces with to substance use, but also offered hope in the ways that we are coming together to impact change.

Last weekend, Ten Sixteen Recovery Network launched two new recovery homes here in Midland County. Recovery residences are homes where people recovering from drug and alcohol addictions can live together in a support-filled “family” environment.

Some people in the recovery process struggle because they live in unstable or non-supportive environments, which can create a lot of stress and chaos, making it very difficult to stay clean and sober. Recovery homes significantly improve the chances of long term sobriety for their residents.  One study showed that people who lived in a recovery home for at least 60 days were twice as likely to be thriving in recovery.

These incredible new facilities were driven by our caring community, with hundreds of volunteers working together to make this dream a reality.

Substance abuse prevention, treatment and recovery is just one of many social issues that United Way and our community is committed to. We recently had the honor of speaking with five local residents who shared their journey. Each person had a different path to recovery but they recognized that without the community’s support, their story might have a different ending.