People in Recovery Say Non-Judgment Addiction Programs Help | News, Sports, Jobs

Kelly Sciarratta was in a jail cell awaiting arraignment when she got what she called a “thunderclap moment.”

“It was the first time in a long time that I failed to be like the others”, Sciarratta said of her experiences with substance use disorder.

She said the loss of friendships and disconnection from her family was what compelled her to seek help.

“The opposite of consumption is not abstinence or sobriety. It’s the connection “ she says.

Seven years after his recovery, Sciarratta credits the supportive environment of Trillium Health‘s needle exchange program as the foundation of his recovery.

“It’s the first place where I felt I was seen and not stared at,” she says.

She remembers the receptionist at Trillium Health greeting her with a smile and a sandwich.

Sciarratta called him a “unspoken rule” that customers like her who wanted a solution could use on the spot.

She said Trillium kept her from getting long-term infections and accelerated her recovery by providing structure without judgment.

“When you give us structure and compassion and care, without that finger-wiggling overbearing criminalization part, you’re going to get people to recover on their own,” she says.

This strategy would receive funding and support from the Safer Consumer Spaces Act, a state bill that has the support of Monroe County leaders.

More than a dozen people, including politicians and drug treatment advocates, gathered Thursday at Martin Luther King Jr. Park in Rochester to approve the law and a separate bill that would decriminalize buprenorphine, a medicine for the treatment of opioid use disorder.

The bill would help the county establish overdose prevention centers as a means of harm reduction for people struggling with substance use disorders. People who use these centers will have access to clean needles, free tests, and the resources and support needed to begin recovery.

“There has never been a fatal overdose in any OPC”, said Trillium Health Director of Community Health Initiatives, Julie Ritzler-Shelling. “Instead, there has been increased access to treatment.”

New York City adopted the model in 2021. The Guardian reported on its success in preventing overdose deaths earlier this year. The bombardment cited other measures of success, such as a reduction in HIV and hepatitis C cases and the reduction of needle waste in public places.

Elected officials like Rochester council member Kim Smith said the opposition was rooted in the stigma of drug use. “We can’t depend on their morality to get us out of this, we have to legislate our way out of it,” said Smith.

The bills are currently in committee. Lawyers urge lawmakers to schedule a vote as soon as possible.

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