I have become involved with F.I.S.T. ~ Families in Support of Treatment, a collaborative effort formed here on Long Island headed by Anthony Rizzuto. The purpose of F.I.S.T. is to provide addiction awareness, prevention, advocacy and recovery.
In the past several years we have been seeing an epidemic proportion of drug usage on Long Island especially among adolescents and young adults. Several of us in the treatment, prevention and recovery field, as well as concerned parents and coalitions, have come together. They say it takes a village, and our organization has representation from many different parts of the community including agencies, organizations, therapists, interventionists, inpatient residential, rehab and detox programs, outpatient programs, Alcoholic Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, Cocaine Anonymous, Families Anonymous, Al-anon, Nar-anon, private therapists, etc.
We held our first event on Friday June 7. It’s intention was to provide the audience with education, awareness, empowerment, resources, advocacy, a voice and most of all HOPE and RECOVERY! The event focused on strategies for addressing Long Island’s growing epidemic of chemical dependency and addiction. The evening was educational as well as inspirational and offered great tools for keeping the attendees’ family and children safer. So many families have been affected by this epidemic. Day in and day out we get calls from frantic family members saying that they need help for a loved one. The devastation that addiction causes in families and in our communities is no longer tolerable. From shootings in pharmacies to driving under the influence, we are all impacted.
Family members often say it is so hard to get their loved one to agree to get help, and when they finally do, insurance companies are denying them authorization claiming either that they don’t meet medical necessity or that they haven’t failed in outpatient. Mind you, this is a benefit that the individual has been paying into for years. This cannot continue!!!
Legislation has been introduced and we need to gather up support throughout the State. This will be the first of several presentations. We have already started discussions on the next one to be held in New York City. After that we will be in Albany, Buffalo and Westchester. The Hispanic community has also reached out for us to put one together in Spanish.
The ideals of F.I.S.T is unity and strength. Each finger has limited strength on its own, but when the fingers unite they form a Fist which symbolizes strength and unity. It also symbolizes the willingness to FIGHT for what we believe. So far the response has been incredible.
Be an agent of change; pass this on to others. Tell your friends, family, politicians, media outlets and any connections that you have to bring attention to this cause. If you know of anyone that has lost a family member as a result of addiction please especially share information about F.I.S.T. with them. At our 6/7 program there was a powerful segment of the program where a mother who lost her son who spoke and others with the same circumstances were invited up for support.
If you know of folks that have been denied access to treatment by their insurance company please tell them about FIST as well, in order for them to turn their frustration into action. See our new website