The County held its annual celebration for people recovering from addiction at NTC Park in Liberty Station Saturday.
“It really is about … celebrating the recovery, bringing in friends and family and providers together to work together as a community to address addiction,” Alfredo Aguirre, Director of County Behavioral Health Services, said.
The County serves more than 11,000 people through their alcohol and drug programs and another 2,000 are served by the DUI programs they oversee, Aguirre said.
A large number of people in their programs have been through the criminal justice system, which is often a result of their addictions, he said. And the County works closely with the courts and law enforcement to give referrals for their programs.
Aguirre told NBC 7 that the county is looking to expand their programs to serve more people. The opioid epidemic, for example, has affected San Diego like the rest of the country.
“It’s increasing. And then you add to that the element of fentanyl and you’re seeing an increased number of deaths,” he said. “In fact, we exceeded the deaths of 2016.”
People who have or know someone with substance abuse issues can call the county’s crisis line at 1-888-724-7240 or 211 to get a referral.
“When we break down the stigma and shame of having an addiction [it’s] really … an illness,” he explained.
The celebration included a resource fair for those still recovering.