Ryan Hampton of Recovery Advocacy Project Needs Our Help With Answers To Their Poll. Share Your Voice & Opinions!

Ryan Hampton of Recovery Advocacy Project Needs Our Help With Answers To Their Poll. Share Your Voice & Opinions!

WELCOME RECOVERY POSSE & Friends,

Thank you for visiting today and I hope you will give a few minutes of your time.

My amazing recovery friend and advocate, Ryan Hampton is at it again making sure addiction, recovery, and mental health issues are on the ballot this coming general election.

Isn’t time we make sure these important issues and topics make it to Washington, D.C., to be heard for changes to be made?
I do too!
Here is a way everyone “touched” by addiction and mental health challenges can have their voices heard by taking this POLL.
How do voters feel about addiction and recovery in politics?

Here are all the details and just “Click Here”… All poll responses will be anonymous. Please click here to participate.

Thanks, Recovery Warriors! 
Advocate, Catherine Lyon 😺🦁✝💞💞

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Dear Catherine,

We need your help. The Recovery Advocacy Project is conducting a poll to share with policymakers and elected officials–and your participation will help us make the case for increased services for addiction and mental health recovery support.
All poll responses will be anonymous. Please click here to participate.

Do you think addiction and mental health recovery has been a key issue for the candidates running in Arizona?

We’re asking voters like you to take this quick online poll to share their thoughts on this topic ahead of the upcoming elections. We can’t wait to share the results with you and our policymakers–but we need your help by participating today!

There are only a few days left to complete this poll. Take a look at the questions and submit your thoughts here.

Thank you for your support.

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Now that election day is in 97 days. It’s critical that we keep addiction and mental health recovery front-and-center for all candidates. And there are several ways you can help!

This past weekend, we were out canvassing and educating voters with the Recovery Advocacy Project—focusing on addiction and mental health recovery as issues that must be priorities for candidates and elected officials. The Recovery Advocacy Project (RAP) is a network of people and organizations across the country advocating for addiction recovery policies.

RAP is committed to giving people in recovery, family members, and supporters of recovery the grassroots organizing tools to think and act locally. RAP is working to build a visible and effective constituency in demand of the community and public policy based solutions in response to America’s long-standing addiction crisis. You can learn more and get involved in your state this election cycle by going here

This past Friday, I published a blog in Medium outlining many of the challenges our community faces with the dueling COVID-19 public health crisis. Massive budget cuts to addiction health services in several states risk 27 million American lives.

Now is the time for our community to stand up, get involved, and make our voices heard!

And lastly, there are only a few days left to register and join advocates and families from across the country via Zoom from August 18-20th for Mobilize Recovery. While the official application deadline has passed, we have a few open slots left for digital participation.

Mobilize Recovery will be a great start for any person desiring to learn more about how they can get involved to make an impact in their local community this election. Please add your name here today if you’re able to join us. Registration is free but requires a commitment to attend and participate for all 3 days of the online event.

Thanks, Catherine for all you do for our community!
All The Best,
Ryan Hampton

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Ryan Hampton Opens Up and Shares Much More Than His Book “The American Fix”…It’s His America’s Story of Drug Addiction and Recovery Being Played Out All Over America Today.


Published by Medium on June 18, 2020. Original article can be found here.

“Nobody should have to compromise themselves or hide to save their life.”
~Ryan Hampton, Author/Activist 

Back in the Closet: Surviving Homophobia, Heroin, and Rehab in an Intolerant World

by Ryan Hampton

At the peak of my heroin use in 2014, everyone knew something was wrong. My track marks, broken veins, dilated pupils and sunken cheeks told the whole world that I had a problem. My illness was obvious. What they didn’t know was my secret: I was gay, too.

By the time I reached my bottom, I had slowly come to terms with my identity as a gay man. My immediate family, my mother, and sisters knew. I was beginning to get comfortable with my sexual identity. I was even beginning — very cautiously — to see other men. I had one foot out of the closet. But I was still injected heroin multiple times a day.

My addiction consumed me, making me into a shadow of my former self. An estimated 20 to 30 percent of the LGBTQ community misuses substances, compared to about 9 percent of the population as a whole. I was no exception. The double stigma of homosexuality and addiction made it hard to find help.

Who could I open up to? The people who accepted my identity rejected my substance use disorder, and the people who accepted my health issue rejected my identity. I was ashamed of myself, which only drove me deeper into my addiction. I felt stuck, and it was killing me.

Nobody seemed to care except my family. I couldn’t keep a job and bounced from couch to couch in Los Angeles, sleeping wherever I could. I used in public bathrooms and nodded off next to the toilet until someone rattled the door. I dragged my belongings around in a black plastic garbage bag. I ate at the homeless shelter, limp sandwiches that I could barely choke down. I barely felt human. Yet, my identity was there, even when I was completely checked out. I wish I could say that but at the bottom of my addiction, who I was didn’t matter.

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Coming Out – Fairbanks Youth Advocates

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Even
 in California, in a city where it was relatively safe to be out as a gay person, there was only one LGBTQ rehab that was available to me. Most of the programs were private-pay only, which meant they cost tens of thousands of dollars per month — completely inaccessible to someone like me who relied on public assistance.

The only public program that openly served the LGBTQ population was booked solid. Other public programs said they were queer-friendly, but I knew that wasn’t true; about 70 percent of the addiction treatment services noted as specialized for LGBTQ people were really no different from those provided to heterosexuals. This particular rehab was a good one, and I went there almost every day for their 12-step meetings, begging for help.

“Please,” I pleaded with the receptionist. “I just need a few weeks of treatment. I won’t even take up a whole thirty days.”

The program director, a gay man who was supportive and compassionate toward me, came behind the desk. “Let me see what we can do for you,” he said.

My heart lifted. Maybe he’d be able to get me a bed, maybe there was space in their program for me. Maybe, this time, I’d find help in a place that really understood me.

He pulled a hefty, ringed binder out of a filing cabinet and laid it on the desk with a thump. It was thicker than a Bible. Loose papers protruded from its edges. The black plastic edges cracked with wear. The director flipped it open, slowly turning one laminated page after another. Some of the pages were crumpled, as though they’d been through the wash. When he got to the very back, he clicked the button on his ballpoint pen.

“Give me your phone number and we’ll call you as soon as something is available,” he said.

“When will that be?” I asked. My eyes were burning.

“Hard to say,” he said. He wrote my name down. “When we have an open bed, we start calling these numbers, in the order therein. When somebody answers, we offer them the bed. If they say yes, it’s filled. If they say no, we call until we find a person who is ready for treatment.”

I eyed the binder. “There are hundreds of names before mine,” I said. “I could be dead tomorrow. I don’t have time to wait for help.”

He sighed and put the pen to the paper. “I know, Ryan. We’re doing what we can. Give me your number and keep coming to the meetings.”

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Sacramento's first homeless shelter for LGBTQ youth opens

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Keeping a phone was a challenge, but I did it. I waited for that call every day, even when I was jiggling a syringe into my arm. I told myself that all I had to do was not die.

Through sheer luck, I did survive long enough to get into treatment. But after a few days, I was transferred to a different program — a program that wasn’t explicitly LGBTQ friendly. I’d had one toe out of the closet, and when I was transferred I went right back in and shut that closet door — again. I instinctively understood that if I was going to survive, stay healthy, and make it into recovery, I couldn’t be gay, too. Nobody could know.

The new program was divided by sex: girls and guys. It was like middle school, with teasing, flirting, scheming, and gossip passed between our separate dorms. I was the only gay person there. Even the counselors were straight. If I came out, I knew I risked being ostracized or bullied, treated like a sexual deviant, or being made to feel like an outsider. I couldn’t risk that.

Instead, I kept my mouth shut and pretended to get it when the other guys would talk about which female client they were going to hook up with, or how hot some movie star was. I knew better than to put my ‘two cents in’: one comment about Jennifer Lopez’s nice eyes or Angelina Jolie’s commitment to humanitarian aid would give me away. I was a man, but I wasn’t a straight man.

Hiding nearly caused me to relapse. Keeping a secret about myself, especially something of that magnitude, made me sick with anxiety. It was like walking around with a gut full of hard-boiled eggs. I was terrified that some gestures or words would give me away. Finally, when it was time to start one-on-one counseling, my mom called me.

“Son, you have to tell them,” she said.  She didn’t need to say what. We both knew.

During my first counseling session, I could barely sit in the chair. My legs twitched, and I must have looked like I was on amphetamines.

“Everything OK?” the counselor asked.

I picked at the back of my neck. “I’m fine,” I said.

She shrugged and looked down at my intake forms, trying to assess where to begin.

“Actually, I’m not OK,” I blurted. “I’m gay.”

Those two words — I’m gay — were the key to my freedom. The counselor just nodded. She didn’t mark it in my chart or ask me why I hadn’t said anything before. We proceeded, working together a few times a week.

Feeling accepted, and knowing that my identity was acknowledged made it possible for me to open up in counseling. I finally started sharing about the sexual trauma I’d endured as a very young person, my fear that I would never be able to openly date, and my worry that I would be excluded from the recovery community. I talked through those things, and though I didn’t come out to anyone else in treatment, that one admission was enough to break the ice.

I stayed mostly closeted for the next couple of years. I also stayed sober, transferring to a residential sober living that supported my recovery. My best friend Garrett knew, and while some guys teased us for being “boyfriends,” it was playful. We were inseparable, and enough of our female friends came over to visit that we could laugh off the insult.

Because to almost everyone, “gay” was less-than. It was a way to put others down. And even those passing, “just a joke” comments hurt me and made it harder for me to trust that I belonged in the recovery community.

However, time passed, and the stronger I felt about my recovery, the more confident I felt about the rest of my identity too. It took almost four years to say the words, “I’m a proud gay man in recovery.” But I did say them, and when I did, I knew I was finally healing from both my addiction and the trauma of my past. I wasn’t hiding anymore. I was out as a person in recovery and out as a gay man. If people didn’t like it, well, that was their problem — not mine.

Coming out in recovery was one of the scariest things I’ve ever done and the best things too. I was willing to speak up and share my truth, even though it meant risking the community connections that kept me alive. Showing up for my recovery with all of me saved my life. It also introduced me to the love of my life, Sean, who I am marrying this November.


Ryan and Sean 💞

 

My only regret is that I felt I had to hide my self early in my recovery. Stigma, homophobia, and intolerance are still very real issues in the recovery community, both in treatment centers and in the support systems that help people get healthy again. I wonder how many LGBTQ people, unable or unwilling to stay closeted, were kicked out of the same program that I went to; how many of them left because they couldn’t stand being bullied or threatened by the other residents?

How many trans women were unable to find a treatment center that accepted them and offered trans-specific services and counseling? The odds are bleak for those of us who are already outsiders in a homophobic, intolerant society. My white privilege helped me keep one foot in the door, but that shouldn’t be a requirement to access life-saving care.

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We need the CARE Act to stop the opioid pandemic - STAT {Ryan Hampton is one of the most tireless advocates and activists I know Making Real Changes for recovery from addiction}

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“I know how lucky I am to have survived addiction; adding my identity to the mix makes me feel like I dodged lightning. Life on the other side of treatment, with years of recovery under my belt, is better than I could ever have imagined. I wish I hadn’t waited so long to have this experience.”

I wish for others, who are like me and struggling to find their place in recovery, to know that they don’t belong in the closet either. The answer isn’t hiding; the answer is building a system that includes all of us. Every person who asks for help should have it, regardless of their identity or orientation, race, gender, or expression.

Navigating recovery is hard enough. When I brought my whole self to the table, I left the closet behind. I’m holding the door open, too — because nobody should have to compromise themselves or hide, in order to save their life.

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Ryan Hampton is an activist in recovery from heroin addiction and author of “American Fix: Inside the Opioid Addiction Crisis — and How to End It.” Organization foundedThe Voices Project  

Follow him on Twitter: @RyanForRecovery 
Follow him on Facebook
Visit his  Official Website To Learn More

DEAR MR. PRESIDENT… Did You Forget There Is An Opioid EPIDEMIC Happening Before There Was A COVID-19 Pandemic? A Special Message From Advocate & Author of “American Fix,” Ryan Hampton.

I ADVOCATE and SUPPORT All Forms of Recovery From Any Addiction.

Addiction Does Not Discriminate…

 

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In these unknown and uncertain times, it seems while this COVID-19 Pandemic is still spreading throughout our country, there is still a “BATTLE of an EPIDEMIC” happening in this country.  It also seems our Government, our President, and Legislators have forgotten and are NOT LISTENING.

They have worked faster than I have ever seen in my lifetime getting funding for this pandemic, but where is our immediate assistance for the DRUG EPIDEMIC?  We have surely lost way more lives since this OPIOID CRISIS in AMERICA has begun and we are still losing precious lives every day over and above the virus pandemic…Especially when we read headlines like this!

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Officials worry large potential spikes in overdose deaths amid COVID-19 pandemic

Health officials worry extended isolation could exacerbate the problem. Must read by ABC NEWS.

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When will our President, Vice President, and all of the Government start taking addiction seriously?
Why can’t they rush through more funding for an EPIDEMIC like they are for this Virus PANDEMIC?

Is it a class war fair?

It is because they think all addicts just ‘Choose To Be Addicts and SICK?’

Like this crisis and epidemic is not IMPORTANT ENOUGH?

Isn’t any life saved not a LIFE?

Shouldn’t ALL SICK PEOPLE DESERVE HELP and HOPE?

I think it is safe to say during this pandemic, and with so much funding being sent out everywhere to stop the bleeding of our economy, businesses, the mortgage and financial sectors, and slipping into recession and a huge amount of the job market all going to hell, where do you think they will start cutting funding first? Yes, you guessed it, addiction treatment, and mental health services! I could go on and on but I’ll let my friend Ryan Hampton share his message I got this week from him.

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Those suffering from substance use disorders amid the COVID-19 pandemic, in Jacksonville, Florida, the fire and rescue department reported a 20 percent increase in overdose emergency calls in March. In Columbus, Ohio, the county coroner’s office saw a surge in overdose deaths, including 12 in a 24-hour period the first week of April. And in New York State, at least four counties have acknowledged an increase in reported overdoses, including Erie County, where officials saw at least 110 drug overdoses, including 36 deaths, reported since the beginning of March.

 

“I think we need to consider the role that social isolation coupled with non-stop reporting on the pandemic may have on the feelings of desperation and hopelessness among those struggling with substance abuse,” U.S. Attorney for the Western District of New York James Kennedy Jr. said in a statement. “Amidst the current crisis, we need to remember that substance abuse existed long before COVID-19, and it will likely remain long after we have wiped out the virus.”

(ABC NEWS Article)

 

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This message from Ryan Hampton is very important to read and share out through Social Media while tagging our President and all Legislators! 

They NEED TO HEAR OUR VOICES OF RECOVERY and ADVOCACY around this issue!
As Ryan’s book description shares:

“Nearly every American knows someone who has been affected by the opioid crisis. Addiction is a trans-partisan issue that impacts individuals from every walk of life. Millions of Americans, tired of watching their loved ones die while politicians ignore this issue.
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Where is the solution?
Where is the hope?
Where’s the outrage?”
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~In “American Fix” an outline of the challenges that the recovery movement currently faces, and offers a concrete, comprehensive plan of action towards making America’s addiction crisis a thing of the past.”

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Image may contain: 4 people, including Ryan Hampton, people smiling{Hardest Activist and Advocate I Know!}

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Published by Medium on May 10, 2020. Original article can be found here.

 

By: Ryan Hampton. The Author of American Fix

If we look up from what’s right in front of us — a global pandemic — we’ll remember that we’ve been battling a public health crisis for more than a decade. The opioid epidemic alone has stolen more than 450,000 lives from us since 1999, but the total number of deaths related to substance use is around 1.75 million for that same period.

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Before this virus swept through the U.S., we were starting to see real change in the opioid crisis — both in the health systems and the decline of drug overdose deaths. Overdose death rates decreased by 4.1% from 2017 to 2018 in the U.S. This is not to deemphasize the pandemic’s impact on our country or the critical response needed, but to remind America that the opioid epidemic did not go away when COVID-19 reared its head. We can’t forget about people living with addiction.

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Now we’re simultaneously facing two crises, putting patients with opioid use disorder (OUD) at a significantly higher risk for overdose, death, and relapse. When there is so much uncertainty for those with addiction about how to continue receiving care during this time, it’s essential that addiction treatment programs continue to receive federal and state support so that we don’t lose our foothold on combating the opioid crisis.

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Nationally we’re seeing increased unemployment and poverty, mandatory changes to daily routines, and increased anxiety and stress which are only magnified for people managing addiction. These added stressors can disrupt a person’s recovery journey by overwhelming their coping mechanisms. Addiction is a disease of isolation, so the necessary physical distancing protocols that yank people out of their routines and their communities and trap them alone with anxiety (and even boredom) is dangerous to recovery.

 

Not only that, but the pandemic is shifting how people can receive treatment. Many support groups and counseling sessions are being provided virtually. But how about people who use medication-assisted treatment? A significant portion of people in treatment pays out of pocket for their care. With a rising number of Americans losing their jobs due to the pandemic, including people in recovery, their ability to afford life-saving care is in danger.
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The addiction treatment organizations are struggling too. They are spending more money to put protocols in place in response to COVID-19 while dealing with employee absences and patients forgoing treatment. Yes, federal and state regulators have loosened requirements for care at outpatient opioid treatment programs (OTPs), which is important. But if the OTPs don’t have the funding needed to continue operating in this new environment, these regulation modifications are irrelevant. Without ongoing treatment, those in addiction recovery are at risk of relapse and overdose.

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Before COVID-19 hit, our nation was at a turning point in the fight against the opioid epidemic. The coronavirus pandemic not only threatens thousands of lives, but it also threatens to completely derail the progress we’ve made in digging this country out of one of the worst human-made epidemics in history. If people living with addiction can’t get the care they need, they too will die.
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In a time when a pandemic is causing so much uncertainty, people living with OUD need stability. Addiction advocacy groups and others in the industry have issued a formal request to the federal government asking for $38.5 billion in emergency supplemental funding for direct payments to behavioral health organizations, which will help ensure they remain open and operating during the COVID-19 crisis.

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While this sounds like a lot, let me put this request into perspective: the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that the total “economic burden” of opioid misuse alone in the U.S. is $78.5 billion a year. We only need a small fraction of that cost to save lives.
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The bottom line is this: we need to make sure organizations that help people in recovery — opioid treatment programs, community behavioral health centers, peer support organizations, and others — get the resources they need to continue providing addiction and mental health care.

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Ryan Hampton is the organizing director at the Recovery Advocacy Project, author of “American Fix: Inside the Opioid Addiction Crisis — and How to End It” and national addiction recovery activist.

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