Op-Ed: A lifeline for those battling substance use disorder

By Tom Joyce
Posted 9/25/23

There is a resource available in hundreds of languages, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week that provides immediate help for those experiencing substance use disorder, thoughts of suicide, mental health crises, and emotional distress – the 988 Lifeline.

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Op-Ed: A lifeline for those battling substance use disorder

Posted

During National Recovery Month, we celebrate those who have had the courage to seek help for substance use disorder. Substance use challenges can be isolating, and the weight of stigma can make reaching out for help seem insurmountable.

Fortunately, there is a resource available in hundreds of languages, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week that provides immediate help for those experiencing substance use disorder, thoughts of suicide, mental health crises, and emotional distress – the 988 Lifeline.

Trained crisis counselors stand ready to help those in need, regardless of the hour or the nature of the crisis. When people call, text, or chat with the 988 Lifeline, they're met with free and confidential emotional support that can make all the difference in their darkest moments. As the Director of the East Bay Recovery Center in Warren and Co-Chair of the Governor’s Overdose Prevention and Intervention Task Force, I firmly believe in the profound benefits the Lifeline can bring.

At the East Bay Recovery Center, our mission is to empower individuals striving for recovery, offering a haven for self-discovery and growth. We understand that the path to healing is uniquely personal, and the Recovery Center provides the space for individuals to embrace the transformative power of the peer-recovery movement.

The 988 Lifeline is a seamless extension of our mission, as its crisis counselors are equipped with extensive training to offer a compassionate and nonjudgmental space for those reaching out for help. I have had the privilege of providing sensitivity training to crisis counselors in Rhode Island that emphasizes the significance of peer recovery support for individuals grappling with substance use crises. This training acknowledges the immense power of shared experience in fostering understanding, empathy, and healing.

The trained crisis counselors who operate the 988 Lifeline in Rhode Island are also familiar with the intricate support network that spans our state.  These crisis counselors are based locally, ensuring those who contact the Lifeline are met with not only professional expertise, but a thorough understanding of the local resources, including innovative mobile outreach programs like the Rhode Island Outreach program provided by Newport Mental Health, available to them.

The creation of the 988 Lifeline signals a new era for behavioral health treatment. The 988 Lifeline extends across Rhode Island and the country, bridging gaps in care, and proving that, no matter how deep the darkness, there is always hope and help available.

In this journey toward emotional well-being, the 988 Lifeline stands as a testament to the strength of the human spirit and our collective commitment to supporting one another through life's challenges. It's not just a number; it's a lifeline to hope, healing, and a brighter future.

Thomas Joyce is the Director of the East Bay Recovery Center in Warren and Co-Chair of the Governor’s Overdose Prevention and Intervention Task Force

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