The Martha’s Vineyard Substance Use Disorder Coalition (MV SUDC) is launching an advertising campaign to raise awareness of Island resources for those with the disorder.
The campaign, with a year of funding from the Dukes County Commission and by the Inter Island Public Health Collaborative, is meant to direct those in need — or those who know anyone in need — to MV SUDC’s informational webpage. The page has a list of contacts people can call, including the Martha’s Vineyard Hospital 24/7 Substance Use Disorder Department.
Chip Coblyn of MV SUDC’s public relations working group hopes that as more people see the ads — which will run in bright green on Mondays in The MV Times’ Minute newsletter — other SUD resources will increase their reach. These include the Martha’s Vineyard Community Services Peer Recovery Support Center, located at the Red House, adjacent to the hospital. The Red House provides group activities, workshops, training, and other services for those with SUD and their families. The Red House also holds AA meetings.
Coblyn additionally hopes more people will make use of Community Services’ Recovery Coach Program: “What these recovery coaches do is that they will attach themselves to a person who is seeking help, who wants help, [and] they will literally and figuratively hold their hands and get them to a place where they can get into recovery.”
The program has been training coaches to speak Brazilian Portuguese, providing better outreach to that significant Vineyard population.
Coblyn says that running the ad on Mondays is intentional: “We found historically that when people run into trouble with whatever their disease happens to be, things seem to happen most often over weekends, when people are more likely to be alone, they’re not at work, and things tend to happen.” Coblyn also notes the negative influence of personal isolation for those with SUD.
According to Coblyn, the idea for the campaign came from a need for Vineyarders to know of round-the-clock substance use disorder resources. “One of our working group members, Bill Croke — we were just brainstorming one day — said, ‘Is there a way — or we should have some way for people who are in crisis to reach out and get help on a 24/7 basis.'”
Apart from the ads being run now, MV SUDC is prepared to further spread the visibility of their resources through publicly posted QR codes.
“We want to take this campaign to businesses, in the form of our window sticker. I’d like to have it in every bar, I’d like to have it in every liquor store, I’d like to have it in restaurants that are open late into the night. I’d like to have it just about any place where people might tend to congregate who have SUD problems.”
As the campaign develops, Coblyn says MV SUDC will track engagement with its website as it looks to future plans: “Hopefully we’ll have some sort of a numerical thing that we can look at and maybe bring to the community at some point.”
Past this campaign, Coblyn’s working group will seek to fight stigma around individuals with SUD. “Other than the most obvious of indicators, you don’t know [who has SUD], and you just need to realize that these are just your neighbors,” he says. “We’re hoping to just keep improving our outreach, to keep bringing in new partners, to keep looking for funding.”
And though Coblyn acknowledges that it would require a complex vetting process, he also would like to see on-Island SUD treatment: “In the possible distant future, we’re hoping that we can provide some kind of treatment facility on the Island. If we could have something, even a small place where people could go, rather than people being taken off-Island, I think that would be a huge help.”