ST. PAUL, Minn. (KMSP) - Americorps is joining the fight against opioid addiction. On Wednesday, Minnesota hosted a national event to include those addicted to opioids as a vital resource to Americorps.
There are 80,000 Americorps members in the nation – 21,000 in Minnesota alone. They do service work at non-profits, schools, public agencies and faith-based groups. Now, Americorps is adding the recovery community to that list.
“We feel like we have a big part to play in the whole recovery process,” said Audrey Suker of Serve MN and Americorps.
The plan is to design new Americorps programming for opioid addiction recovery, but also to offer opportunities to those in the recovery community.
“We're just learning this morning a chance for someone in recovery to show up every day and feel loved and valued is critical in the recovery process and is life-changing,” said Suker.
In Minnesota, opioid addiction is gripping the state like never before.
“There's still an increasing number of people using opioids across the country, but particularly here in Minnesota, the numbers from the first quarter 2015 to the first quarter 2016 kept rising, opioid overdose deaths kept rising here in Minnesota,” said Dr. Marvin Seppala, Chief Medical Officer at Hazelden Betty Ford. “Part of that has been a switch from prescription opioids to heroin.”
While there is no easy path to recovering from opioid addiction or any addiction, it is important to remember there are success stories. Samantha St. John, who struggled with alcohol addiction, believes Americorps was part of recovery success.
“Having a sense of meaning and purpose in doing this work, which I definitely felt I had when I worked,” said Samantha St. John. “I was proud to go to work every day I loved coming to my job.”
Americorps is not wasting a lot of time. They hope to begin their new efforts in the recovery community in the fall.