In May 2016, a group of concerned citizens came together to face the growing challenges of substance use on Martha’s Vineyard. The grassroots effort led to the development of the Martha’s Vineyard Substance Use Disorder (SUD) Coalition, an unincorporated Island-wide community coalition composed of the major health and social support institutions and concerned citizens on the Island of Martha’s Vineyard.


The mission of the Martha's Vineyard Substance Use Disorder Coalition is to raise awareness, bridge services gaps, and decrease stigma of substance use disorder through education, prevention, treatment, and recovery efforts.


We believe that addiction is an illness - not a choice or a moral failing.

We believe that individuals suffering from substance use disorder and their loved ones need continual support throughout addiction, treatment, recovery, and beyond.

We believe that ending stigma and breaking down barriers for effective prevention, treatment and recovery efforts are essential.

We believe that substance use disorder prevention and education is critical to behavioral and physical health.

We believe that substance use disorders require treatment, and individuals in treatment deserve respect and support, just like anyone with a chronic illness - mental or physical.

We believe there are many different pathways to recovery and each individual determines his or her own way.

We believe that together we can combat and erase the stigma surrounding addiction and substance use disorders.


  • Planned and hosted a community forum "Destigmatizing Substance Use Disorder" about addiction prevention and stigma featuring keynote speaker Dr. Monica Bharel, state commissioner of Massachusetts Department of Public Health.

  • Created a coalition website, resource guide, and social media pages (Facebook, Instagram) for information sharing and community engagement.
  • Initiated the development of formal agreements and partnerships with three off-Island detox facilities to give Islanders easier access to detox facilities that do not exist on the Island. The Martha's Vineyard Detox Treatment Referral Program began in 2017 as collaboration between MV Hospital, MV Community Services, Gosnold Inc. in Falmouth, Stanley Street Treatment and Resources in Fall River, and AdCare in Worcester to help  individuals on their path toward recovery.  An average of 90 placements a year have been made since the inception of the program in January 2017.  In 2020, Island Health Care joined the partnership.
  • Initiated the recruitment and training of a cadre of Recovery Coaches employed at MV Community Services and MV Hospital to accompany patients to and from detoxification, and provide support for follow-up treatment. A Recovery Coach is a trained professional who guides and supports an individual in the recovery process and helps to prevent relapse. Coaches act as a combination counselor, sponsor, friend, and mentor to help patients develop goals, locate resources, and learn the skills necessary to live a sober and productive life.

  • Initiated a working group to explore the feasibility of an Island-based public health education effort focused on changing the Island’s culture of substance use. To assist in this ambitious undertaking, the coalition engaged The Public Good Projects (PGP), a national public health communications nonprofit specializing in large-scale behavior change campaigns and programs. Thanks to funding from The Peter and Elizabeth Tower Foundation, in-kind funding from PGP, individual gifts from Island residents, and fiscal sponsorship from Martha’s Vineyard Community Services, our first phase fundraising has secured some $400,000 to date. Those funds have been invested in the creation of the On Island film, a needs assessment in the form of focus groups and an Island-wide survey, a branded campaign, a program website, and part time staff support.
  • Helped organize and promote a Candlelight Vigil on the Island as part of an effort to draw attention to the opioid epidemic for International Overdose Awareness Day.
  • Collaborated with Dukes County, Health Imperatives and the AIDS Support Group of Cape Cod to bring a Harm Reduction Center to the Island. Services are located at Health Imperatives and include free clean needle exchange, syringe access, STI and HIV/HepC testing, Narcan training and distribution, overdose education, home delivery, secondary exchange and short-term primary care and referrals to appropriate services.
  • Collaborated with MV Community Services and Martha’s Vineyard Hospital to launch the Peer Recovery Support Center at the Red House. The center offers a safe haven for individuals in recovery, offering healthy recreational and wellness activities along with educational and employment supports. Members of the recovery community support the peer to peer recovery model to help meet the needs of the community.


  • The public health committee is leading an effort to launch a public health behavior change campaign with the help of the Public Good Projects. More information on the project here.
  • An initiative to create a comprehensive Narcan education program for the Island to educate and train municipalities, health/social services populations, and the community at large.


The coalition has representation from the following stakeholders:

Concerned community members
Members of the recovery community
AIDS Support Group of Cape Cod
Aquinnah Police Department
Break the Silence MV
Cape and Islands District Attorney’s Office
Chilmark Town Police Dept
Dukes County Administration
Dukes County Commissioners
Dukes County Community Corrections
Dukes County Sheriff's Department

Edgartown Police Department
Health Imperatives
Healthy Aging MV

Island Clergy Association

Island Health Care
Island Wide Youth Collaborative
Learn to Cope
Martha's Vineyard All Island Boards of Health

Martha's Vineyard Community Services

Martha's Vineyard Hospital
Martha’s Vineyard Public Schools
NAMI Cape Cod and Islands
Oak Bluffs Police Department
Patient Centric MV
Tisbury Police Department
Vineyard House 
West Tisbury Police Department
YMCA of Martha's Vineyard

Youth Task Force