Recovery Panel Launches Semester-Long Opioid Crisis Discussion

Thursday, February 14, 2019

by Carly Montecalvo '19

Ryan Hampton started with what was missing from the national conversation about addiction: real people. It evolved into a best-selling book concerning the opioid crisis, titled American Fix: Inside the Opioid Addiction Crisis - and How To End It.

“I was looking for a book about what people are doing to end the opioid crisis, and I had a very hard time finding one,” says Hampton, a nationally-recognized author and activist. “They all wanted to talk about the anatomy of the crisis, how we got here, but no one was talking about how we get out of it, the recovery.”

Hampton, who just celebrated four years in recovery earlier this February, discussed substance use disorder and how best to combat the American crisis on a campus panel co-hosted by the Wellness, Alcohol & Drug Education (WADE) Program and Life of Purpose Treatment Centers on February 11.

The panel focused on the topic of recovery and discussed potential solutions to the opioid crisis including recovery housing on college campuses. Hampton was joined on the panel by Andrew Burki, director of public policy at Life of Purpose Treatment Center; SJU senior Sarah Lathrop, a student researcher at the University’s Institute for Clinical Bioethics (ICB); and Patti Anne McAndrews, founder and director of Adolescent & Young Adult Advocates and Main Line Addiction Specialists, two outpatient programs for young adults in recovery.

Burki, who has been in recovery since 2001, said that conversations like the panel change how the public views recovery.

“We need to push back against the soft bigotry of low expectations,” he said. “People with substance use disorders are perfectly capable of graduating from a top-tier university and going on and leading successful, productive lives.”

Lathrop, a member of The Flock, a team of student allies for anyone affected by Substance Use Disorder, has examined the local opioid epidemic by assisting ICB Director Peter Clark, S.J., with his research into safe injection sites. The researchers have argued that safe injection sites would save lives by preventing overdoses, a plan Lathrop thinks could really impact current opioid use.

“I think that is a very viable option of something that could in the long term successfully end [the crisis],” she said.

Katie Bean, assistant director of student outreach and support, said that the panel is an important part of a larger movement to support those affected by Substance Abuse Disorder.

“We have had many awareness events over the years,” Bean said. “And we can continue to educate, but we also need action. I hope that SJU community members will make a positive change by becoming a certified Ally of Recovery by undergoing training or by attending the Marginalized to Empowered Conference this summer on campus. Both the training and the conference will help build skills to help support those in our community impacted by substance use disorders.”

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