"It's a terrible, terrible thing that's happening..."
With those words, atTAcK Addiction founding member Don Keister called for unity in combating a crisis that takes, on average, one life per day in Delaware.
atTAcK Addiction was one of eight organizations and programs that were recognized Wednesday by the Addiction Policy Forum, a national non-profit which sought to recognize innovative approaches in dealing with substance abuse disorder and the stigma that comes with it.
"We have to combine to beat this thing," Keister said. His son Tyler died of an overdose.
Delaware has the fifth highest rate of overdose in the country, and Addiction Policy Forum Vice President of Community Relations Kimberly Clapp said that's why innovative solutions are so important.
"The people in this room are people who are responding to addiction differently and they're trying to change this crisis," Clapp said. She joined the APF after a long career in broadcast-journalism and becoming aware of the toll addiction was taking on families.
Honorees include the Wilmington Hope Commission's Winner's Circle program which helps people who come out of prison look for jobs, obtain housing and reconnect with their families.
"It's gratifying seeing these guys succeed," peer counselor Kontal Copeland said. "If I reach one guy, that's beautiful. I've done my job."
The innovators honored were:
atTAcK Addiction, which looks to educate the public about addiction and support people in recovery
Hope Street, a Newport-based program that offers short-term housing and other support services while "giving a female voice to recovery"
New Expectations, a home operated by Connections Community Support Programs and the Department of Correction where pregnant woman can receive substance abuse treatment and avoid jail time
Delaware Prevention Coalition, which works through schools, civic groups and faith-based organizations to address community concerns
Delaware START, which streamlines and increase access to substance abuse treatment
HERO HELP, which involves police departments and officers who seek alternatives to arresting people with addiction problems
Wilmington Hope Commission Winner's Circle, a peer-driven support program for people who are coming out of the prison system
Project Engage, which focuses on early intervention in the hospital setting