Wicked Sober is Tackling the State’s Opioid Epidemic
Wicked Sober is rallying people across Massachusetts against the opioid epidemic.
The local intervention group is partnering with Recovery Centers of America (RCA)’s New England Center for Addiction Medicine to strengthen its community-based battle against addiction. The two will work together on grassroots efforts to curb substance abuse across the state and region.
That means assembling task forces of first responders, who will band together against the state’s opioid problem. These helpers will include police officers, fire chiefs, EMTs, and health and human services organizations, united by the common goal of helping communities overcome drug addiction.
“It’s really important to get the entire community involved and contribute to change on a grassroots level,” says Brad Greenstein, CEO of Recovery Centers’ New England branch. “We’re hoping to partner with as many sectors as possible, and by teaming up with Wicked Sober, we can double our resources.”
Wicked Sober and RCA are also opening new counseling centers, starting with a 90-bed facility in Westminster and a 210-bed facility in Danvers, set to open this summer and fall, respectively. In the meantime, anyone who signs on to their mission may help the two organizations advocate for criminal punishment reform and a better partnership with MassHealth, so that uninsured and government-insured families can visit their facilities.
Their goals may sound lofty, but Wicked Sober founder Mike Duggan, who overcame opioid addiction himself, says his mission is grounded in two basic principles of healthcare: access and acceptance.
“Often, families are already afraid of the shame and guilt of admitting a loved one struggles with addiction, so sending them away is incredibly harmful,” Duggan says. “We want them to have as many accessible resources as possible. For example, we’re working on new drop-in centers, so that any families or patients can get help, free of charge or judgment.
“We’re hoping to spread this model across different, remote areas in rural Mass. and the Northeast,” Duggan continues. “There are many locations that could benefit from drop-in centers and more understanding counselors.”
Eventually, Wicked Sober and RCA also want to facilitate greater public access to Naloxone, which reverses the effects of opioid overdose.
This joint effort couldn’t be more timely—or necessary. Massachusetts suffered an eight percent increase in unintentional opioid overdose deaths between 2014 and 2015, and heroin use in the U.S. has almost tripled since 2003. Meanwhile, the wait to enter rehab in Boston has only gone up, currently hovering around 19 days.
“In the end, it’s grassroots advocacy work,” Greenstein says. “We want to change the public’s perception of addiction, from the inside out.”