Mayor Walsh Announces The Examination of Boston’s Addiction and Recovery Services

marty walsh

(Boston, MA, 02/05/14) Staff Photo by Nancy Lane

On April 9th, Mayor Marty Walsh announced that the City of Boston’s addiction and recovery services would be getting an upgrade, taking a huge step towards one of the more personal platforms of his campaign for the mayor’s seat. 

“My administration is committed to bringing new support to the recovery community as part of our public health and public safety plans,” said Mayor Walsh in a prepared statement. “We’re connecting the dots to make sure people get access to treatment.”

The AP, reported that many heroin addicts across the country struggle to find beds in treatment centers, and they also have to pay for the expensive services that insurance companies don’t pay for. 

Collaborating with the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts Foundation, a grant and research organization that works to expand access to health care services in Mass, the city will create an expert advisory committee to evaluate the status of addiction and recovery services in Boston. Their work will build into a study that is expected this year, and will lay the foundation for a new Office of Recovery Services that will run out of the Boston Public Health Commission, and it will be funded by 300,000 dollars of Mayor Walsh’s 2015 fiscal budget. 

“Despite significant and historic health care reform in the Commonwealth, treatment for mental health and substance use disorders remains challenging in terms of access, capacity and cost. I think we can all agree that the current system is complex, overburdened and in need of reform,” said Audrey Shelto, president of the Blue Cross Blue Shield foundation in a prepared statement.

Mass state police said there were 185 deaths in four months from November to February due to heroin overdose. Governor Deval Patrick declared a state public health emergency at the end of March due to the increase in heroin and opioid addiction. 

Since 2000, the number of deaths as a result of heroin and opioid addiction has jumped from 363  to 642 in 2011.

Marty Walsh: Is A Recovered Alcoholic a Good Political Candidate?

Addiction doesn’t discriminate. And lately we are constantly reminded of that as we watch the Boston race for mayor unfold. Within Martin Walsh, better known as Marty Walsh we see someone who has been exactly where we have been and has had to work to achieve his success in life. We know this because not only did he beat cancer as a child, he has also overcome alcoholism, on a daily basis, for almost 20 years.  

marty walsh recovered alcoholic

But is being 18 years sober and a recovered addict, running for mayor, helping or hurting Marty’s political goals? Well, in this instance his past addiction, and his present recovery seem to be a total asset.


Well, recovery has to do with way more than just putting down the booze and the drugs. Recovery has to go deep within a person and work in their daily lives, as well as, every part of their life. Individuals who have good recovery often practice spiritual principles and constantly try to be better people. For example, they try to practice honesty, loyalty, discipline, and integrity. These principals are the same principals that make someone a good person whether they are a mother, a doctor, a daughter, a son; a teacher or even, in Marty’s case, a recovered addict running for mayor of Boston. 

Here is what Marty had to say about his recovery:

“It’s the feelings ultimately. You know, when I went to detox I had no intention of stopping drinking. I went to detox to kind of get the heat off me, if you will. And the first night I was in the detox a commitment came in, a group of people came in to talk about their experience, strength and hope, and I got hooked. And I listened … and I learned a lot about what I have as a disease and that completely transformed my life. That really put me on a whole different outlook on life.

And recovery’s incredible. I mean, my life is completely transformed. I was able to run for state representative and have had 16 wonderful years on Beacon Hill and recovery is a big, big part of my story. And I kind of equate recovery to the cancer. I mean, I have been fortunate. I have had two major points in my life that there’s been an intervention to some degree. And it’s helped build me for the person I am.”

So is a recovered alcoholic a a good political candidate? 

While the stigma against addiction says that people who are addicts or even former addicts are unfit for public office or any kind of important job, we believe it is actually the opposite. Those addicts that have recovered may make some of the best important political leaders to date. With their focus on helping others and practicing spiritual principles it may bode well to actually have more people like Marty Walsh running for mayor in cities across the country. Addiction destroys lives but it also can transform them if the addict can take their suffering and give it up to be used to create something better for themselves. Just like Marty said,”it has helped build me for the person I am.” Marty Walsh is a perfect example of this. Marty Walsh truly proves that anyone can overcome addiction and create a life that is beyond their wildest dreams. It is probably safe to say that Marty Walsh is a hero especially to those in recovery and addiction. Hopefully his race for mayor is just the jumping off point for many recovered addicts and alcoholics to come and hopefully he wins!