Advocacy & Action Agenda
Every 4 minutes, someone in the U.S. dies from an overdose or alcohol-related cause – the equivalent of a jumbo jet crashing every day with no survivors.
- 22 million Americans are suffering
- 23 million more are in recovery
- 1 in 3 households are directly impacted
Organizations that make up the Facing Addiction Action Network represent diverse areas of interest across the spectrum of substance use and addiction issues. From recovery community organizations to family advocacy groups, prevention and education networks, public health agencies, labor partners, faith leaders and many more, we will all work together to execute the following action agenda and promote real solutions to the addiction crisis.
We hope you’ll join us as we work to shift public perception, tackle stigma and offer real solutions to our nation’s most urgent health crises. The Facing Addiction Action Plan can be downloaded here and includes the action items listed below. You may click on each one in this short table of contents and be taken to individual actions or read through the entire document.
ACTION ITEM #1 Humanizing Addiction for Both the Afflicted and the Affected
ACTION ITEM #2 Suffering From Addiction is Not a Crime – Reforming Public Safety Responses
ACTION ITEM #3 Dramatic Expansion of Prevention, Screening and Early Intervention Programs
ACTION ITEM #4 Promoting Multiple Pathways of Recovery for Individuals and Their Families
ACTION ITEM #5 Mainstreaming Addiction Health Services
Join us in order to stay up to date with the Action Network’s progress on executing this sweeping and comprehensive agenda!
Humanizing Addiction for Both the Afflicted and the Affected
Collecting and publicizing real stories of individuals and families from all walks of life that will open hearts and inspire others to begin facing addiction out loud.
Facing Addiction has launched a national letter-to-the editor campaign, outlining numerous stories behind the addiction crisis we face, and the need for a comprehensive solution. These letters are submitted to local newspapers and other sources of information across the country, and will include the perspectives of those individuals in long-term recovery and their families, as well as families who have lost loved ones, prevention leaders, public health advocates, medical professionals and many, many more. These individuals will be provided template communications articulating the long-term action agenda of Facing Addiction, and the opportunity to share their own experiences based upon their relationships to substance use disorders.
Creating a uniform language and reference guide for community stakeholders and policy makers across the spectrum of the addiction and substance use disorder landscape.
One of the most critical steps in tracking the issue of stigma around addiction is the often disjointed terminology and language used to address the problem. Working with leaders from across the addiction spectrum, Facing Addiction is developing an “ADDICTIONary,” a single resource that will be rich with language developed and agreed upon by leaders from across the addiction space. ADDICTIONary will be comprehensive and inclusive, not focusing on any one perspective. This resource will be available by September of 2017.
To develop this resource, Facing Addiction has assembled a committee to gather information from the Facing Addiction Action Network, discuss terms where a uniform consensus is so critically needed, what the proper terminology might be, and then resubmit a final product to the Facing Addiction Action Network organization for final feedback and approval. This committee will be made up of representatives from the recovery community, families of loss, public health community, harm reduction advocates, criminal justice leaders, individuals of faith, primary care providers, and other key advocates as deemed necessary.
Educating stakeholders, communities, and policy leaders on the current science and “translating” for the general public the first ever Surgeon General’s report on Substance Use, Addiction, and Health.
The Office of the Surgeon General is committed to improving the health of the Nation. Toward that end the Surgeon General announced on October 4th, 2015 that he would commission a report on substance use, addiction and health. The report’s scope is intended to be broad and comprehensive, with the goal of capturing the current landscape of the impact of alcohol and drug issues on health.
The report was released in the Fall of 2016:
- Provides a comprehensive review of the research literature on substance use, addiction, and health, summarizing the science on substance misuse prevention, treatment, and recovery
- Outlines potential future direction
- Educates, encourages, and calls upon all Americans to take action
Suffering From Addiction is Not a Crime – Reforming Public Safety Responses
Develop national, state and local training programs on addiction and recovery for criminal and juvenile justice stakeholders such as police officers, prosecutors, correctional officers, and judges.
Facing Addiction will build a committee of experts – the Facing Addiction Public Safety Committee – made up of leaders from the criminal justice, public health, and primary care communities, in order to a develop a training program that can be presented to communities across the United States. This program will be finalized by the end of 2017, with a large public rollout and aggressive outreach to local communities to take place in 2018.
Establish guidelines that promote the pre-adjudication diversion of low-risk offenders from court involvement or formal criminal justice system supervision toward health-centered interventions.
Facing Addiction will identify and cultivate 15 communities across the country to model diversion strategies similar to those in Gloucester, MA and Seattle, WA. Working with leaders from the Facing Addiction Action Committee, we developed an application for communities to become one of the 15 initial targets for this program. This application process includes details on the community’s current response, the state of the epidemic in the community, as well as an overview of public leadership committed to working toward a more reasonable, effective approach to solving the problem. The Pre-Adjudication Application (PA) will be presented to communities in late 2016 with a 90-day application period. With the guidance of the Facing Addiction Action Committee, the 15 selected communities will be announced by March 2017, with grassroots organizing to launch at that time.
Develop federal legislation that requires all federal re-entry programs to include consideration of substance use disorder issues and promote assertive linkage to recovery community resources.
Working with the Action Committee as well as other Action Network organizations, Facing Addiction has created a Legislation Subcommittee. An initial aim of this committee will be to perform background research and evaluate possible legislative options toward achieving this goal. The committee will play a pivotal role in reaching out to present and future legislators (after the 2016 elections) to extend invitations to a Congressional Forum to be hosted by Facing Addiction in March 2017, and will invite experts in this area to present best practices to address this issue from a policy perspective. While developing a legislative approach, the Subcommittee will also work in conjunction with Washington, DC-based addiction and mental health leaders to devise a political strategy, outline most likely Congressional allies, and create an overview of timing for any crafted legislation to be presented.
Dramatic Expansion of Prevention, Screening and Early Intervention Programs
Spread the awareness and adoption of screening, brief intervention, and referral to treatment protocols into new settings such as primary care/pediatricians, educational institutions, and community-based health clinics.
Facing Addiction is developing a community convening guide that will bring together the most current research and best practices, including the recent report from the American Association of Pediatrics, and organize community forums across the country on the benefits of screening and early intervention for young people. In 2017, this guide will be completed, and Facing Addiction will work with Action Network organizations across the country to host 20 community forums. The forums will focus on the importance and urgency of implementing screening and early intervention practices in local communities. The task of identifying the Action Network partners who will take the lead on building these forums will fall to a committee of prevention professionals.
Create an accessible online risk assessment survey tool for individuals and families.
An important concern for individuals and families is finding out whether or not they have a problem with alcohol and other drugs and what types of medical or community services to reach out toward. Facing Addiction will work with key Action Network partners to identify evidence-based survey tools currently being used in various domains. An expert provider coalition will build a short and simple set of survey questions from this evidence that can be harnessed and scaled through technology for the general public. By March of 2017 Facing Addiction will complete the initial environmental scan of current assessment tools. The final survey mechanics will be completed by June of 2017 with a target for launch online in September of 2017.
Scale existing community resource asset mapping technology and combine currently fragmented data into one user-friendly technology-based application.
There is a 90% addiction treatment gap in the United States – the largest service gap of any major health issue in the country. Every day people write to us saying, “Families don’t know where to go or who to call for help.” This country urgently needs an easy-to-navigate framework designed to give information and make connections. While the information is not easy to find, there are far more resources in many communities than most people realize for prevention, treatment, and recovery. Using a robust social and user-engaged process we will populate and widely disseminate the first-ever, independent, non-profit (i.e. non-commercial) digital, mobile navigation tool that will bring all of the current addiction resources into a single, trusted place.
The Facing Addiction Action Network will be deeply involved in ensuring the technology application fills the current unmet need in their communities. The initial beta version of the application will be launched in November of 2016 for community testing with ongoing phases and improvements rolled out throughout 2017 and 2018.
Roll out Facing Addiction’s advocacy & organizing training
Facing Addiction’s Director of Outreach & Engagement will assemble a task force of leaders with experience in training execution and development to conceptualize an agenda for the Advocacy & Organizing Training. Committee members will have professional experience in the areas of advocacy, community organizing and communications / message development, including social media. The training will be designed, including necessary toolkits and other resources, and ready for launch in early 2017. It will be presented on at least three different occasions in the first half of 2017.
Promoting Multiple Pathways of Recovery for Individuals and Their Families
Advocating for a large pathways to recovery research agenda from the National Institutes of Health (NIDA/NIAAA).
Facing Addiction will host a Congressional Briefing in March of 2017 on the impact, significance, and potential of recovery supports to present long-term outcomes (i.e. peer recovery support services, recovery housing, recovery community centers, recovery educational institutions, ongoing primary care follow-up, and other community based supports) – but highlight the scientific gulf in the existing science around long-term chronic health outcome data versus all other major chronic health issues. An action plan will be crafted utilizing lessons learned from the Congressional Briefing, and building advocacy recommendations for the specific funding needs required by Congress to implement. The plan will be drafted in conjunction with advocacy partners in Washington, DC.
Mainstreaming Addiction Health Services
Full 50-state implementation of the Mental Health and Addiction Equity Parity Act requiring private insurers to provide health services for addiction at parity with services they offer for other health conditions.
Facing Addiction will work with a coalition of leaders examining and working on the parity issues to analyze and present recommendations based on the findings of the White House Mental Health and Substance Use Disorder Parity Task Force.
After the report is released in the Fall of 2016, this parity coalition will build an action plan to work toward National and State-based implementation issues surrounding insurance parity.
A draft of the recommendations will be completed by March 2017 for review by the Facing Addiction Action Committee.
A final set of consensus recommendations will be completed by June 2017.
Advocating for and tracking the expansion of medical schools, nursing schools, and pharmacy schools with curricula focused on understanding, identifying, and treating addiction.
Facing Addiction will build a public facing scorecard for all medical schools, nursing schools, and pharmacy schools in the country and highlight the ones that have a dedicated curriculum focused on addiction prevention, treatment, and recovery. We will reach out to the accredited health professional schools that currently offer programs in addiction treatment in order to gauge interest in helping others build a program. Based upon the findings of this initial outreach, Facing Addiction will develop a process for each professional school to institutionalize an addiction curriculum. An Addiction Education Committee, to be made up of primary care providers and other health care professionals, will be formed in order to help oversee this process. The committee will develop adequate information tracking systems, including informational, interview outlines, to be conducted with medical faculties in order to determine what practices are currently in place. The scorecard will be released annually starting in January of 2018.