Overdose Awareness Week Series: Chrysalis House

September 9, 2015

Guest Blog by Christopher J. McCabe, Interim Executive Director, Chrysalis House Inc., Nonprofit Member of Maryland Nonprofits

Often special recognition weeks or months celebrate achievements or create awareness. In the case of Overdose Awareness Month, a serious much needed message about substance abuse is delivered.

I am pleased to be afforded the opportunity to talk about Chrysalis House and its role in treating women with addictions while supporting their unborn or young children in nurturing settings. Founded in 1986 by four women who saw a need to help dependent women overcome their addictions while preparing to parent healthy children, Chrysalis House has grown from a 10-bed halfway house in Pasadena, Maryland to a regional facility in Anne Arundel County, Baltimore City and Montgomery County. For over our two decades, Chrysalis House has provided treatment for over 1500 women and their children.

In our state, Chrysalis House and other similar providers, ranging from detox centers to residential programs to transitional homes, are components of a continuum of care for long-term sobriety. While I am newcomer to the field of substance abuse treatment, I know the drug(s) of choice change over time, yet we have the need for immediate response. The ravages of today’s heroin usage have spawned government sponsored engagement, including the Maryland Heroin and Opioid Emergency Task Force and the Baltimore Heroin Task Force/Treatment and Prevention Task Force. Locally, Anne Arundel County has committed county resources to address the issues of heroin overdose and longer-term effective treatment.

The Washington Post August 12th edition followed the journey of Ashley Kennedy and her decade of damage with heroin addiction. The collateral impact from an individual’s addiction goes beyond the nation’s health care system. It most directly affects the immediate family and an unborn child. Ashley’s daughter was born addicted and her tiny body suffers tremors and sleeplessness. In a sad reality, our child welfare system is filled with children and youth who are the sons and daughters of mothers who are fighting to overcome their disease. Locally, moms must go through a treatment program and demonstrate sobriety and responsibility to regain their children from state custody.

Those in the addictions field are not to judge, but to heal. Countless professionals working at low wages are committed to using their talents to help others. It would be a victory to not have to have an Overdose Awareness Week or Month, but the reality is that we will continue to bring awareness as long as there are substances to be abused. So in this week, let us recognize the good works of those on the front lines of addiction treatment and pray and support those struggling to overcome their demons.


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