Activist Ryan Hampton and the Voices Project by Gina Tron
Six months into his own recovery, Ryan Hampton was still in a “place of shame,” as he told Writers for Recovery. Even worse, he said that within a six-week span, he lost four close friends to overdoses.
“People were telling me that that’s what happens when you get into recovery. People will start dying. You will go to a lot of funerals. I get that but that doesn’t make it okay. I was feeling this huge sense of social injustice and outrage.”
Ryan began researching. He said it began with a journey of self-exploration.
“I wanted originally to see what was out there,” he said. “I wanted to see what other communities were doing to support recovery. I wanted to see what was going on in the criminal justice system. I wanted to see what was going on what was going on with prevention, ER rooms and with Narcan.”
In 2015, he embarked on a trip with a friend to 22 states, to visit communities hit hardest by the crisis. They visited recovery centers, jails, parents of addicts and community members. “When I got back from the trip, I decided that those were the stories that needed to be told,” he said. “The media focuses so much on the problem and not enough on solutions.”That was the start of the Voices Project.
“I decided it was going to be a platform for others rather than me. It’s to aggregate as many voices as possible to create one unified voice to push for solutions. It’s storytelling for a purpose and it’s storytelling for an impact. We’ve been able to use that platform to erase shame and stigma but also to push people in the right direction when it comes to critical decisions about addiction and recovery.”
Ryan said that through his research and project that there needs to be more of a focus on recovery support.
“We all know that we need effective prevention and treatment and that the treatment model needs to be updated,” he said. “We know how to handle addiction in the acute crisis phase, intervention, detox, those 28 days. Where my friends have died is after they get out of treatment. Are we supporting their recovery? What does that look like?
“For me, we need continuative care. We need access to recovery houses. Access to employment. Be reintegrated back into society. The traditional personal recovery stuff is great but on top of that we need to provide resources and support to help people become the best
people that they can be.”
Ryan said that data shows that people are most vulnerable to recurrence of use in their first year of recovery.
“After five years, the risk of recurrence or relapse drops below 15% and that is per the US Surgeon General in 2016,” Ryan said. “So, my whole thing is why aren’t we supporting people for those full first five years? We should be getting people to that five-year mark.”