By Lynnell Fields,
Executive Assistant, Operation UNITE
Have you ever been someplace where you do not speak the language, cannot understand what people are saying, and you cannot communicate? Maybe you have been to a restaurant where everyone is speaking another language and you cannot read the menu.
Assisting at the 2023 Rx and Illicit Drug Summit, seeing all the names of the speakers and the spelling of their names with origins from around the world, got me thinking about language and how important it is.
Rx Summit, held April 10-13 in Atlanta, is the largest, most influential annual event focusing on the drug misuse and overdose crisis in the United States. We had the privilege of being together with people from all over the world who speak the same language. We had a common bond, common purpose, in meeting together. I could enter any room at this conference and understand what was going on, participate and learn, because we speak the same language.
It is the language of hope and community and commitment.
Making this year’s meeting even more special were our Hope Ambassadors. The Hope Ambassadors program was created this year to provide a platform for those in recovery to share their stories.
“They are the ‘why,’ the reason we do what we do,” said Nancy Hale, CEO of Operation UNITE, the educational advisor for Rx Summit. “These men and women, at one point in their lives, struggled with the disease of addiction. As Hope Ambassadors, they inspired others to join with them on their recovery journey.”
On the UNITE Hope Wall, someone wrote that sobriety gave them a chance to unlearn, relearn and share their lived experience. That is what we are doing here. We gather for four days to unlearn old practices that no longer serve us, relearn, and learn best practices, and to share our lived experiences.
It is not easy, the daily grind, statistics going in the wrong direction, being “boots on the ground” in this fight. It can feel overwhelming at times. It reminds me of a scripture, Galatians 6:9, that says, “Do not grow weary in doing good for at an appointed time, there will be a harvest, if we do not give up.”
This is the 12th year of Rx Summit. This event did not just come about by itself; it took pioneers who had a concern, who were willing to be groundbreakers, seed sowers, laborers, visionaries to grow Rx Summit into what it is today. This is a harvest and there is more to come. Who can imagine where we will be in another 12 years?
Some people have assisted and attended all 12 of the summits; this was my sixth year. Others were just now joining in. I challenge others to participate, invest in this effort, help lay the groundwork for 2024 and beyond, because you do speak the language.
Rx Summit is produced by HMP Global as part of the Psychiatry and Behavioral Health Learning Network. Operation UNITE (Unlawful Narcotics Investigations, Treatment and Education, Inc.) is the educational advisor for Rx Summit.