COVID-19 has completely changed the way substance use treatment, prevention, harm reduction, and recovery providers operate. Like so many other industries, we've had to quickly adapt to this new reality. COVID-19 is stressing not just our entire sector, it's challenging our entire economy. Unfortunately, New York State in particular faces some daunting days ahead.
Thankfully, we know that substance use services are a critical component to saving lives and reducing the cost of care in New York. Now more than ever, we need to advocate for our services in the face of some significant cuts. To help, the Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Providers of New York State has created a tool kit to promote advocacy for substance use providers. Below, you'll find some quick and easy steps on how to do some much-needed advocacy of your own.
CONTACT YOUR REPRESENTATIVES
One of the most important things you can do right now is contact your representatives in Washington and Albany. Both groups are going to have a significant impact on how we recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, and an important part of that recovery needs to include a well-funded substance use services sector. This includes treatment, prevention, harm reduction, and recovery. It's critically important that our representatives know that our services are going to be needed now more than ever, and that we can actually save tax dollars by providing access to our care.
Thankfully, finding and contacting your representatives is easy! Even if you haven't done it before. All you have to do is follow the steps below for both the federal and state levels.
Contacting your representatives in Congress is easy!
By clicking above, you'll download a sample template letter to send to your federal representatives. It focuses on asking for additional funding for behavioral health providers nationwide. You'll need to personalize the letter with the date and both the name of the representative and your name. They're highlighted as a reminder.
The "Step Two" buttons will take you to web pages that will help you locate your House member and both of your federal Senators.
Once you've been taken to the representative's contact page, you can send the letter electronically through their contact form. Just copy and paste the letter into the form on the contact page. Or, for extra advocacy bonus points, you can print the letter out, sign it, and mail it to their office!
Contacting your representatives in Albany is easy, too!
Similar to the federal steps, the button above will download a sample template letter to send to your state representatives. The state version specifically opposes any potential cuts to OASAS. Instead, it advocates for increased funding for OASAS providers and the substance use system in NYS. You'll need to personalize these with the highlights, too.
The "Step Two" buttons will take you to web pages that will help you locate your NYS Assembly member and your state Senator.
Once you've been taken to the representative's contact page, you can send the letter electronically through their contact form. Or, for extra advocacy bonus points, you can print the letter out, sign it, and mail it to their office!
WHY OUR WORK IS IMPORTANT
It's no secret that our work saves and changes lives each and every day. Caz Recovery and other providers have so many stories about how we've helped people with substance use disorders regain their health and purpose.
Just for example, Toni is a former resident of Caz Recovery's Somerset House. She used her time at our program to reconnect with her kids. "I’m actually being a responsible mother,” she said. Toni was particularly grateful to be in a position to help her children when they need it. In fact, she was able to take her daughter and grandson out to shop for summer clothes while she was at Somerset House. “It felt so good,” Toni said.
I've got questions! What do I do?!
Contact Ed with questions
If you have questions about how to contact your representatives, you can contact Ed Cichon, Caz Recovery's Director of Marketing and Communications. He also serves as the Public Policy Chair for the Western New York Chemical Dependency Consortium. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 716-852-4331 ext. 316.