An Open Letter on International Women's Day

An Open Letter on International Women's Day

                It goes without saying that START would not be what we are today without the invaluable contributions of the many women who grace our organization with their talents. We at START consider ourselves privileged to be able to call such outstanding people our coworkers. At the moment, the majority of Team START is made up of women; 58%, in fact. In addition, our 13-member Board of Trustees features eight women.

                On the other side of the coin, we also have a large number of women who rely on each and every one of us for support as they strive for sustained recovery. While women are under-represented in media coverage of the ongoing Opioid Epidemic, we see many mothers, daughters and sisters among the ranks of our patients and those living with substance use disorder all over the nation.

                At START alone, we serve nearly 1000 women, and women nationwide saw a 400% increase in overdose deaths from 1999 to 2010, whereas the rate among men grew 237%. This is due at least in part to a number of complicating factors specific to women, including higher rates of chronic pain and opioid prescriptions, higher risk for opioid dependence, higher rates of psychiatric comorbidities, and lower rates of naloxone revival, among others.

                And so just as we have all undoubtedly benefitted from the presence of countless strong women in our lives, so must we redouble our efforts to care for the women who look to START for addiction, medical and behavioral health support. So, too, must we strive to do away with the false narrative that the Opioid Epidemic is a white, male crisis. The world must know as well as we do that addiction sees neither gender, nor race, nor class, nor any distinct category.

                Finally, on a brighter note, our hope is that we all reflect today, and all throughout Women’s History Month, on the incredible achievements and daily contributions of the many women who have taken our entire country and world to ever higher heights. These contributions deserve to be highlighted not simply because they were achieved by women, but because they are remarkable in and of themselves, and yet all too often diminished or forgotten. These contributions will also undoubtedly lead to the solutions that end this epidemic.

                To all the women at START, we thank you once again for the joy of being able to call you our coworkers, and to all other women reading this, START thanks you for all that you do to make this world a far better place, even in the face of so many obstacles.

                Happy International Women’s Day!