Opioid addiction and opioid-related deaths are increasing worldwide, and the U.S. government recently declared opioid addiction to be a public health emergency. The federal response includes training addictions professionals, improving access to treatment in remote areas through telemedicine, stepping up the enforcement of laws, and educating the public. All are essential activities, but I hope that we don’t lose sight of the important role that self-help and peer support will play in combatting the epidemic.
During a public emergency, we rely on the government for assistance. Of course, we also expect and encourage people to help themselves and help others. In a flood, we are told to move to higher ground while those who own boats help with rescue efforts. Groups of citizens, faith communities, and other organizations band together to provide shelter, food, and other essentials.
The opioid public health emergency should be no different. Yes, combatting opioid misuse at the public health level requires increased access to medication-assisted treatment and distributing overdose reversal kits. However, people need to help themselves, and we all need to help each other. That’s why self-help and peer support are more important than ever. For many decades, formalized self-help techniques and organized peer support have been key resources for people in recovery from addictions, and they work! WRAP is an evidence-based practice.
WRAP For Addictions describes how people in recovery can use these techniques successfully in conjunction with treatment and other supports. It describes some useful mindfulness techniques, for example. The body of research on mindfulness continues to grow, and we are learning that it is helpful for both addiction and chronic pain, which can be a gateway to opioid misuse. (Check out our recent article series on WRAP for Chronic Pain.)
We should be doing what we can to support those dealing with the impact of addictions. If you find WRAP helpful, share this article with the people you know—some of them may be privately struggling with addiction. Wellness is a key component of recovery! What is one of your favorite wellness tools for addictions? Share your favorite tools on our Facebook page.
Alan Marzilli, J.D., M.A., is a senior writer/program associate at Advocates for Human Potential (AHP). His work focuses primarily on homelessness, mental health and substance use disorder services, cannabis regulation, and employment services.