In honor of September as National Recovery Month, I'd like to tell you the story of Mary. It's one of my favorite stories to show how, when you provide someone with coordinated care, her whole life can change.
When Mary walked through the doors of the Hooper Detox Center in 2008, Mary was struggling with drug abuse just like an estimated 325,000 other Oregonians. She had been using since she was 16, and addiction had affected every aspect of her life. She didn't know how to take care of herself – how to cook a meal, how to get a job – and she was homeless.
Through Hooper, Mary was connected with the wraparound services provided by Central City Concern, a health center in Portland that helps people with chronic mental illness and addictions. Central City is also part of Health Share, one of the state's coordinated care organizations. There she received mentoring, transitional housing, job training and classes in daily living skills, like how to prepare a meal, navigate a bus schedule, or interview for a job.
All of these services helped Mary be successful in her recovery, and she has been sober for more than four years. Mary recently told us that she now owns a car and a house with her fiancé, and they have two foster children. She is working at Central City Concern, where she helps people access job training and employment.
Mary's story is great news, and we have even better news. Addiction treatment is covered through coordinated care, and with Oregon Health Plan 2014 we are going to be able to help even more people like Mary – and we will be able to help them sooner. Through primary care screenings, doctors will be able to identify possible drug or alcohol issues earlier. Because more people will have access to treatment, they can get the help they need to get their health and their lives back on track.
Addiction treatment is a key component of coordinated care. Just like any other chronic condition, treatment for addiction improves overall health and lowers costs. But stories like Mary's remind us that it's about more than that. It's also about changing lives for the better.