Flourishing after addiction requires flourishing for all. The public health of addiction and recovery has several important lessons, not just how to respond to the overdose crisis, but also, and more concretely, how to think holistically about addiction and all the factors that support someone’s recovery. How to protect the mental health of ourselves, our families, and our broader communities, now and for generations to come.
Dr. Wilnise Jasmin is a family medicine doctor and leader in the city of Chicago’s public health system, where in addition to battling COVID-19, she directs the city’s Behavioral Health program. A crucial focus of her work is the opioid overdose epidemic, which disproportionately affects Black residents and is one of the drivers of an 8.8-year life expectancy gap between Black and White Chicagoans. But despite a brutal 2020 and 2021, as overdose rates soared across the country, the Chicago Department of Public Health actually reported a decrease in opioid-related deaths in the first half of 2021. In this episode, we talk more about how they managed this feat, and what those practices and approaches have to teach us about addiction and recovery.
Wilnise Jasmin, M.D., M.P.H., M.B.A., is the Medical Director of Behavioral Health at the Chicago Department of Public Health. She is part of the leadership team responsible for the city’s initiatives in the areas of violence prevention, substance use and prevention, and mental health. She specializes in both Preventive Medicine (Public Health)—which she studied at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health—and Family Medicine, having trained at the Cook County-Loyola Family Medicine Residency Program, where she served as a Chief Resident. She is also a fellow in the University of California-Irvine Primary Care in Psychiatry program, and she serves as the Chair for the American College of Preventive Medicine's Annual Conference's Population Health and Health Systems track. You can learn more about how Chicago is fighting opioid overdose deaths at http://www.overcomeopioids.org, and connect with Dr. Jasmin on Twitter @wilnisej.
In this episode:
- Naloxone (Narcan) in vending machines (and for a brief account and photo of a similar vending machine program in Las Vegas, look here).
- How Chicago worked on outreach with community groups to ameliorate a rise in suicides and overdoses--including how to forge authentic connections and dismantle stigma.
- Dr. Jasmin’s most important message for addressing stigma: not to say someone is broken or hammer on “disease” language, but to break down false divisions. "Substance use is not a 'them' problem. The face of substance use? You simply have to look in the mirror to see what someone with a substance use issue could look like. It could be anyone."
- One important way to prevent addiction: “Health in All” policies, a broader way of looking at all the many factors that influence health beyond traditional healthcare.
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