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Behavioral Health Consortium seeks to end negative stigma

Delaware Public Media

Last week’s Delaware Behavioral Health Consortium recommendations to Gov. John Carney (D-Delaware) include measures to try to bring an end to the negative stigma surrounding people in the throes of addiction.

One recommendation is to expand education programs offered by the Delaware Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health helping people acclimate to life after active addiction. Another seeks to create new pathways to employment for recovering addicts.

Jim Martin is a recovered addict turned community advocate and now sits on the Behavioral Health Consortium. He says it was work that helped him turn his life around.

“That’s what helped me recover was employment, a job. That’s what turned my light back on inside my own—you know, before I had no self-worth, and when someone actually took a chance on me and said, ‘You know what Jim, I’m going to give you this job to do.’ That’s what turned me around,” said Martin.

He adds that our society can be very isolating, leading people to addiction, and he would like to see the consortium work to combat this epidemic of loneliness.

“My idea is to create welcome centers all throughout the state for people that are walking around--people in the community that have no place to go. Give them a welcome center let them use the bathroom, let them take a shower, let them sleep somewhere,” he said.

After his first job in a group home, Martin went on to open 23 group homes of his own.

He says the consortium is looking to add more peer mentoring positions in Delaware. Those are jobs available to addicts in recovery to help guide others who are new to the recovery process.

The group is also seeking to implement a Delaware version of the national “Project Purple” addiction awareness campaign.

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