Recovery Becomes a National Policy Priority
In April, the Obama Administration released
As a result, the Strategy directs Federal agencies to expand community-based efforts to prevent drug use before it begins, empower healthcare workers to intervene early at the first signs of a substance use disorder, expand access to treatment for those who need it, and support the millions of Americans in recovery.
Since 2010, the Strategy has focused Federal efforts in the recovery domain on three broad areas:
To ensure that there was progress in these areas, the Obama Administration established the first-ever Recovery Branch within the ONDCP Office of Demand Reduction.
Raising Awareness and Combatting Stigma
ONDCP is going to new lengths to raise awareness and reduce the stigma around addiction and recovery and to elevate the voice of the recovery community. This is central if we are to unravel policies, practices, and perceptions that have emerged from decades of stigma, fear, and misunderstanding; it is, therefore, one of the cornerstones of ONDCP efforts in the recovery domain and a key element of the overall drug policy reform agenda.
In June of 2012, ONDCP Director Kerlikowske delivered a major address outlining Administration goals, accomplishments, and priorities in the recovery domain from the Betty Ford Center. One of its key messages is that drug addiction is not a moral failing on the part of the individual, but a chronic disease of the brain that can be treated and from which one can recover. This message underpins all of ONDCP’s messaging and outreach on recovery. A recording of the speech can be found here.
One of the most significant steps ONDCP has taken recently was the creation of the Americans in Recovery Facebook Page. Its purpose is to provide a platform for the recovery community, notify it of ONDCP and recovery news. Please take a look at the page, like it, and share it with others who might be interested in it. In an effort to get word out, ONDCP is sponsoring a Facebook profile picture campaign for Recovery Month 2013. Our goal is to get as many people as possible to switch their profile picture to the one we will be using for the site during the month of September. To learn more, click here.
Another step taken by the Obama Administration was the creation of the ONDCP Quarterly Recovery Update, which provides information on what ONDCP is doing in the recovery domain, highlights recovery-related research, innovative approaches to recovery support services, and recovery-related events. Each issue also celebrates a Voice of Recovery, an individual in recovery who has stood up, taken action, or otherwise supported recovery through their actions or work. The Spring 2013 issue can be found here. If you would like to receive the Quarterly Recovery Update by email, simply email a subscription request to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
ONDCP has continued the tradition of soliciting and composing Recovery Month blogs. These are often moving stories of recovery that help dispel myths and misinformation and that demonstrate the power of recovery to transform not only individual lives, but families and communities as well. Here are last year’s entries:
This year again, ONDCP will be posting blogs for Recovery Month. In addition, we will be posting relevant stories on the Americans in Recovery Facebook page and linking the page and our blog posts. Blog entries will be posted here.
Please consider helping us get the word out by sharing what we are doing to highlight recovery.
Eliminating Barriers and Expanding Recovery Support Services
Eliminating barriers and expanding access to recovery support services are key recovery domain priorities delineated in the Strategy. On August 19, 2013 ONDCP and the Department of Education jointly released a document entitled FAFSA Facts (Free Application for Federal Student Aid). The purpose of the document is to eliminate confusion about the restrictions on Federal student aid eligibility associated with drug convictions and to outline the steps that can be taken to reinstate eligibility if one is affected by the law. It can be found here. Please forward it to organizations and individuals who may have interest in it.
Additionally, in partnership with the Department of Housing and Urban Development ONDCP will be releasing profiles of promising Public Housing Authority programs providing housing and key services to individuals returning to the community from incarceration. Substance use disorders are extremely prevalent among these individuals and services related to them feature prominently in the programs that are being profiled. Moving forward, ONDCP will be focusing on barriers to employment for persons in recovery.
Finally, ONDCP fosters the expansion of recovery-oriented systems and services through a learning community involving 12 states and local governments, through SAMHSA grants, such as Access to Recovery, Targeted Capacity Expansion (TCE) Local ROSC, RCSP. Additionally, ONDCP participates in and sometimes convenes events highlighting the importance of systems and services that effectively support recovery.
Criminal Justice Reform
The Strategy also contains action items in support of a “Smart on Crime” approach to drug enforcement, protecting communities from domestic and international drug-related crime while diverting non-violent drug offenders into treatment instead of prison. As part of this approach, the Strategy highlights promising criminal justice reforms, including drug courts and smart probation programs that reduce incarceration rates, along with community-based policing programs that break the cycle of drug use, crime, and incarceration while focusing limited enforcement resources on more serious offenses. Additionally, recognizing that equal justice depends on individualized justice, Attorney General Holder refined its charging policies regarding mandatory minimums for certain nonviolent, low-level drug offenses.
Help Shape National Policy
ONDCP relies heavily on input from experts, the recovery community, the general public, and others who care about our Nation’s substance use disorder problem and the steps that should be taken to address it. Please don’t hesitate to contact us about recovery policy through this address: email@example.com. Also, we welcome you to submit your input for the 2014 Strategy by emailing your comments directly to 2014Strategy@ondcp.eop.gov. Please provide your feedback no later than September 30, 2013. Finally, consider liking the Americans in Recovery Facebook page, contributing to it, sharing it, and following us on Twitter (@ONDCP). Learn more about drug policy reform at www.whitehousedrugpolicy.gov/DrugPolicyReform.