State officials promoting addiction recovery in new ad campaign State officials promoting addiction recovery in new ad campaign
Nine years ago, TaTa-Nisha Frazier wanted to get her three children back after losing custody. She faced a formidable obstacle: her addiction to alcohol... State officials promoting addiction recovery in new ad campaign

Nine years ago, TaTa-Nisha Frazier wanted to get her three children back after losing custody.

She faced a formidable obstacle: her addiction to alcohol and drugs.

Frazier with her billboard

 

Frazier went into treatment in DeKalb County. Now, at 47, after what she calls a “tumultuous journey,’’ Frazier has a story that reflects a successful recovery from addiction. She again has custody of her children.

She’s now a communications coordinator for the Georgia Mental Health Consumer Network. “I live my recovery out in the community,’’ she said Wednesday.

Frazier’s face will be on billboards in Georgia as part of a marketing campaign promoting the message of recovery from addiction.

The campaign, called Georgia Recovers, aims to reduce the stigma surrounding addiction and encourage people to seek help for alcohol and drug problems. The campaign will also include social media messaging, videos and a website.

A news conference Wednesday at the state Capitol featured state officials, lawmakers and 19 “recovery stars’’ who were introduced to applause from family members, friends and community leaders.

Ralston

House Speaker David Ralston, a Republican from Blue Ridge, told the audience that “the joy and enthusiasm is just contagious. We embrace a message that has been too long coming – the redemptive power of recovery.’’

“It’s never too late to ask for help,’’ he said.

Ralston said Georgia is harnessing more government funding for treatment, recovery and mental health programs. “We have some 800,000 Georgians living in recovery,’’ he said.

Judy Fitzgerald, commissioner of the Georgia Department of Behavioral Health and Development Disabilities, said the Georgia Recovers campaign promotes ‘‘a message of hope.’’ The campaign is a joint effort between her agency and the Georgia Council on Substance Abuse.

Fitzgerald said Georgia is the first state to lead such a marketing campaign on addiction recovery. “We have to highlight success and showcase what’s possible.”

The opioid epidemic has hit Georgia hard. Emergency room visits and hospitalizations for opioid-related overdoses in Georgia jumped 14 percent between 2017 and 2018, rising from 4,934 to 5,621, according to a recent AJC article. During the same time frame, deaths from such overdoses dropped statewide by nearly 12 percent, falling from 1,043 to 920.

Rep. Sharon Cooper (R-Marietta) said mothers of overdose victims helped bring about the 911 amnesty law that was enacted in Georgia in 2014. It says that people seeking medical assistance for themselves or someone else for a drug overdose can’t be charged if the evidence of a drug violation results “solely from seeking such medical assistance.”

Sen. Renee Unterman (R-Buford) touted the success of recovery centers such as The Zone in Marietta.

Fitzgerald at the news conference

 

Rep. Houston Gaines (R-Athens) sponsored Georgia’s new law to facilitate needle exchange programs, to prevent drug users from sharing dirty needles and spreading disease. He said the law also helps fight addiction, because people who inject drugs who participate in it are much more likely to enter treatment programs.

Rep. David Wilkerson (D-Powder Springs) said addiction recovery “is not a Democrat issue, not a Republican issue. This is a Georgia issue and a people issue.’’

And Marietta Police Chief Dan Flynn spoke about the scourge of drug addiction from a lawman’s perspective. “We can’t arrest our way out of this problem,” he said.

While the authorities must continue to crack down on drug dealers and traffickers, Flynn said, “treatment and recovery is a far more effective strategy for fighting the epidemic.’’

 

Correction: An earlier version of this article misstated when Ms. Frazier’s recovery started. 


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Andy Miller

Andy Miller is editor and CEO of Georgia Health News

  • Free Polazzo

    June 5, 2019 #1 Author

    Very Glad to see this work happening. My youngest son died from addiction in 2008. At that time the county coroner told us that they were not tracking how many overdose deaths were happening. Glad to see that GA has come a long way from those days when families were on their own due to draconian laws that scared my son from seeking help from his doctor. .

    I would like to hear if GA’s legislature is funding community centers which could treat people suffering from addiction with legal drugs. The would be a big help in the transition to an addiction free life. Not many can afford the treatments needed and I hope that state can see that each person rescued will pay back the cost many times over in the tax revenue only the living pay. .

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