Quick, TV watchers – see if you can fill in the blanks. (*Answers at the end.)

  • “Stay _______, my friends.” 
  • “Puff, puff ____.”
  • “Rollin' down the street, smokin' ____, sippin’ on ___ and juice.” 

One catchphrase is the slogan from a beer company’s commercials. Another phrase is shorthand for marijuana-sharing protocol among a circle of users. The third is the hook from a popular rap song by Snoop Dogg that makes reference to marijuana and liquor. These examples show how ingrained references to alcohol and drug use can become in our culture. They represent lighthearted references to substances to which many Marylanders are tragically addicted. 

Part of the problem with substance addiction awareness, according to participants in last week’s “Recovery at the White House: Celebrating 25 Years,” is seen in how Americans talk about addiction and behaviors that contribute to addiction. Panelists and participants alike said a shift in perception is crucial to raising awareness in communities beset by addiction issues.

NFL Hall of Fame receiver and ESPN football analyst Cris Carter, speaking as a panelist at the event, said Americans need to shift their perception of addiction away from solely being about people on the street bearing track marks on their arms and surreptitiously swigging liquor from containers in paper bags. “The whole perception of (addiction) is wrong,” Carter said. “As Americans, we have put celebrating with alcohol and drugs like it’s a common thing: ‘High school graduation – let’s get drunk! Football game – let’s get drunk!’ No, (addiction is) not Jo-Jo on the corner. It’s Cris Carter on ESPN.”

Pam Hyde, administrator of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), rattled off addiction statistics from the organization’s most recent National Survey on Drug Use and Health (well worth the read).  While there’s been a reduction in non-medical use of drugs by people 12 and older, she said, heroin use has been on the rise since 2007. Baby Boomers’ illicit drug use has been on the rise, Hyde said, (for the 55-59 age group, past-month usage rose from 1.9 percent in 2002 to 5.7 percent in 2013). “These Baby Boomers are mothers and fathers and grandmothers and grandfathers of youth that we are trying to prevent from starting use in the first place,” she said. 

And, in recent years, the heroin scourge has hit Maryland particularly hard, as the mixing of heroin with another opioid, Fentanyl, has caused fatal overdoses to skyrocket. To see how Maryland is fighting opioid overdoses, visit our page

Michael Botticelli, acting director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, hailed progress in the past 25 years through myriad developments – chief among them, addiction being recognized as a medical issue and policy seeking solutions at the intersection of mental health and addiction:  

“There have been many accomplishments in the past 40 years – including the formation and expansion of drug courts, a dramatic increase in evidence-based prevention and treatment, decades of scientific research that has given us an irrefutable understanding of addiction as a health issue, the call by the American Medical Association to treat substance use disorders as a disease, the development of effective therapies and medications, better integration with the rest of the healthcare system, more recently the passage of the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act and the Affordable Care Act, which is ushering in a new era of fair and equitable access to treatment and recovery for the millions of Americans who need it. 

“Part of what we’ve learned is the knowledge that we need to do more than just treat the symptoms of a substance use or mental health disorder,” Botticelli said. “For people to reach their full potential and contribute to their communities, we need to raise awareness and reduce the stigma associated with substance use and mental disorder, build community-based recovery support services, promote wellness and ensure that laws, policies and practices do not create unnecessary barriers to recovery.” If you or a loved one needs help with an addiction, dial 2-1-1 to access Maryland treatment centers and other resources.

List of Recovery Month Activities
As September nears its end, there still are Recovery Month activities (courtesy of SAMHSA) that you and your loved ones can attend: 

  • What is Medication Assisted Treatment? – 09/25/2014, 10:00AM - 11:00AM – Educational session discussing the benefits of Medication Assisted Treatment.
  • 8thh Annual Recovery Run, Walk & Rally – 09/27/2014, 8:00AM - 2:00PM – Participants in the 8th Annual Recovery Run, Walk & Rally will walk/run the 1.5 mile distance around the Druid Hill Park Reservoir at least one time, followed by a rally at the Sundial Pavilion. Participants will be provided with FREE health screenings, food, and entertainment. There is a children's fun zone and plenty of behavioral health organizations providing information and services to the community.
  • Nick's Place 1st Annual Recovery Walk – 09/27/2014, 9:00AM - 12:00PM – This recovery walk’s mission is to extend a voice to what recovery brings to individuals and families.
  • 5k Twelve Step Recovery Walk  – 09/27/2014, 10:00AM - 2:00PM – The 5k Twelve Step Recovery Walk spreads the positive message that behavioral health is essential to overall health, that prevention works, treatment is effective and people can and do recover.  You don’t need to pre-register for this family friendly event and there is no fee.
  • Human Rope to Stop the Dope – 09/27/2014 – This event is being held in memory of Alyssa Whelan and the many others who have tragically lost their lives due to drug addiction. Join us as we come together to raise awareness, celebrate recovery and link together to combat substance abuse and addictions in Harford County.
  • Frederick's 3rd Annual Rally for Recovery – 09/27/2014, 1:00PM - 5:00PM – A celebratory event in recognition of National Recovery Month. Festivities will include music and other entertainment, testimonials from individuals in recovery from substance use disorders and/or mental illness, children's activities, community resources, food vendors and more.
  • Third Annual Recovery Walk​ – 09/28/2014, 12:00PM - 4:00PM –The 1.3 mile walk, rain or shine, will be through downtown Annapolis past historic homes and state government offices and will end back at the Stanton Center where participants will have an opportunity to talk to local resource tables, view and or purchase local artist who support recovery personal creations. All are welcome; join your friends and family to celebrate recovery. Enjoy fellowship after the walk with beverages, and a lite fare available to all walkers. Recovery Comedian Mark Lundholm will be our keynote speaker.
* Answers: 

1. “Thirsty” 
2. “Pass” 
3. “indo … gin”