Shannon Hays of Family Service Association of Bucks County spoke to our Solutions Journalism: Covering Addiction class on Thursday. Hays is involved with several other initiatives, including treating people in recovery as a private therapist and helping to lead a 12-step group that is based in Buddhist philosophy.

Hays is in long-term recovery and said her family has a long history of substance use and mental health issues. She said all of her siblings are also in recovery.

She spoke about specific groups of people who face more stigma and barriers to treatment than others, like women and formerly incarcerated people. People who are receiving medication-assisted treatment also face added stigma, she said.

Because there are 196 recovery houses in lower Bucks County, the area has become a destination for people in recovery, Hays said. But she added that only three of those accept people who are receiving medication-assisted treatment.

“People are afraid of what they don’t understand,” Hays said.