The Minnesota Department of Human Services provides Minnesotans with a variety of services intended to help people live as independently as possible.
People in recovery from substance use and mental health disorders, representatives of recovery and military support organizations, DHS leaders and other stakeholders gathered Sept. 4 at the Elmer L. Andersen Human Services Building to kick off Recovery Month in Minnesota with an evening of speakers focused on service members and others.
Keynote speaker Kevin McCauley is a former naval flight surgeon, co-founder of the Institute for Addiction Study in Salt Lake City and advocate for the rights of addicts as patients. He spoke about the science of addiction, his own experience in recovery and that of pilots he worked with.
The military, he said, has a proud history of dealing with issues in a practical manner. That approach, he said, meant putting pilots back in the cockpit after addiction treatment rather than a punitive approach that would rob them of motivation to enter recovery.
“An explosion of knowledge about addiction,” he said, bodes well for lifting stigma and increasing understanding, effective treatment and recovery.
“This is a time of great possibility for how addiction is treated,” DHS Commissioner Lucinda Jesson told the group. She said acceptance has grown within all fields that the best fit for addiction treatment, rather than episodic care, is a chronic health management model that blends ongoing case management and peer recovery suport.
Other guest speakers included Nicole Ly, veterans and military outreach representative, Office of U.S. Senator Al Franken; David Holewinski, Veterans Justice Outreach coordinator for the Minneapolis Veterans Administration Health Care System; and Trista Matascastillo of the Women Veterans Initiative.
The event also included resource tables and representatives from several organizations, including Alcoholics Anonymous, the Minnesota Recovery Connection, Narcotics Anonymous, Women for Sobriety, H.E.A.R.T. (Help Enable Addicts to Receive Treatment) Foundation and the Minnesota Prevention Resource Center.
DHS is a partner in other Recovery Month events, which continue this month with the Recovery Month Twins Game on Sept. 10 and the Walk For Recovery at Lake of the Isles in Minneapolis on Saturday, Sept. 21. More information about events is available at www.minnesotarecovery.org.