In August 2022, the Rx Foundation made a $50,000 grant to Sea Change Recovery Community Organization (RCO), a nonprofit organization on a mission “to #CrushTheStigma of Substance Use Disorder (SUD) and what it means to be in recovery”; and, perhaps most importantly, the organization is uniquely by peers and for peers.
The one-year Rx grant is for capacity building – Sea Change RCO is engaging people who have experienced substance use disorder in organizing and advocacy for long-term, systemic change to positively impact the health and wellbeing of communities in New Jersey.
Since August, SeaChange RCO has experienced tremendous growth. In a recent feature article on the organization and its Founding Executive Director and CEO, Elizabeth Burke Beaty shared that with Rx Foundation funding, SeaChange RCO has been able to create “a whole new model for recovery, advocacy and organizing”.
Combining direct grassroots services like 1:1 coaching and peer support groups with advocacy efforts, Sea Change RCO serves, educates, organizes and advocates “on behalf of anyone negatively impacted substance use”.
A Certified Peer Recovery Specialist (CPRS) and Life Coach with 31 years of personal recovery, and community leader since 2012, Elizabeth knows what it takes to meet people where they are.
Sea Change RCO is committed to centering the voices of “people directly impacted by substance use to lead the advocacy and organizing efforts necessary to advocate for long-term, systemic policy changes that would alter the outcomes for people with SUD”.
For instance, since August, Sea Change RCO has partnered with other RCOs nationally and nonprofit organizations to establish the National Sea Change Coalition. Together, the National Sea Change RCO is building advocacy and policy partnerships committed to advancing both harm reduction and Medication-Assisted Treatments.
Not One More – New Jersey Resources
Not One More Campaign knows the difficulty people face when accessing trustworthy and reputable resources when it comes to substance use disorder, so they compiled a list of resources that they’ve found can be helpful for people who use drugs and their loved ones to find support.
In late December 2022, Sea Change RCO, New Jersey Resource Project, activists, advocates, and peers celebrated when the “federal Omnibus bill containing the Mainstreaming Addiction Treatment (MAT) Act was finally signed into law”. Before the MAT Act was signed into law, barriers to accessing medication-assisted treatment made it difficult for providers to distribute it and for people in recovery to access life-saving medications. The removal of these barriers will save lives. Reflecting on the passage, Elizabeth shared: “this bill is especially important in a year where nearly 3,000 people in New Jersey, and 108,000 across the country, have died of a preventable overdose. We’ve seen that when the right medication is made accessible to someone struggling with substance use, it can make all the difference in aiding them to live a healthy life in recovery.”
Most recently, members of Sea Change RCO and New Jersey Resource Project attended the Ocean County Opioid Advisory Council’s March public forum. The Council was created to determine the distribution of New Jersey’s opioid settlement funds – Ocean County will receive approximately $900,000 every year for 18 years. Sea Change RCO and New Jersey Resource Project were at March’s public forum to advocate for several settlement spending priorities they identified after seeking input from over 7,000 individuals across the state with lived experience with substance use and/or recovery.
At the forum, individuals with Sea Change RCO shared personal recovery experiences with the Council, and offered tangible ideas for how to distribute the opioid settlement funds in service of those directly impacted by the crisis. One suggestion was to create a continuum of care; another was to have emergency departments create detox units for people to safely stabilize in a medical setting before entering a treatment facility. Elizabeth voiced the importance of having more readily available and accessible housing resources to truly meet people where they are, pointing out the barriers to care that people face when all housing is structured on an abstinence-only model.
All in all, Sea Change RCO, New Jersey Resource Project, and the Not One More Campaign are fighting for “affordable access to treatment; evidence-based, compassionate care; community resources; transparency, accountability and oversight” as Council members consider how to best distribute the settlement.
There is still a long way to go before everyone has the opportunity to recover with dignity and respect but Sea Change RCO, New Jersey Resource Project, the Not One More Campaign, its national partners and activists across the country, will continue fighting for our communities’ health and wellbeing.
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