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.

  • FacingAddiction_ActionPlan_7_201622 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!

  • By submitting your information to us, you agree that you will receive communications, including text messages if mobile number is provided, about Facing Addiction's ongoing efforts. Facing Addiction does not charge recipients to receive text messages. However, messaging and data rates may apply. Check your wireless plan for details.


Humanizing Addiction for Both the Afflicted and the Affected

Lisa Frederiksen

“The number one road block facing addiction is the horrible stigma attached to those who suffer. Only by hearing their stories with open hearts, retooling how we talk about substance use disorders, and implementing recommendations from the best and the brightest in the world will we break that stigma and begin seeing real solutions to this crisis.” 
Lisa Frederiksen, – Redwood City, CA

Part 1

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.

To date we have had over 100 letters to the editor submitted to newspapers nationwide, in states diverse as Maryland, Florida, and Oregon.

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Part 2

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. The 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.


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Part 3

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.

In November 2016, we hosted Facing Addiction: A National Summit in November 2016 in Los Angeles, which unveiled Facing Addiction in America: The Surgeon General’s Report on Alcohol, Drugs & 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 and it:

  • 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
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August 2016
Merlissa Alfred

“Recovery is real — for millions of Americans who once lived in the darkest pits of addiction, recovery has transformed their lives and the lives of the family. But with over 20 million still suffering, we need to do more — and it starts with sharing our stories of recovery.”
Merlissa Alfred, Recovery People – Austin, TX


Suffering From Addiction is Not a Crime – Reforming Public Safety Responses

Chris Mayhew

“Over 80% of our federal inmate population suffer from substance use disorders. The correlation is clear, and the path must be reversed.” 

Chrisa Mayhew, Women Incarcerated Chapter, International CURE – Painseville, OH

Part 1

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.

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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.

To date we have started developing training programs on addiction and recovery aimed at criminal and juvenile justice stakeholders.

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Part 2

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) was presented to communities in late 2016 with a 90-day application period.

The 15 targeted communities for our Pilot Community Project as announced March of 2017. Out of 50 applications received the communities selected are:

  • Fitchburg, MA
  • New Canaan, CT
  • Rochester, NY
  • Martinsburg & Berkeley Springs, WV
  • Annapolis, MD
  • Cumming, GA
  • Baton Rouge, LA
  • Springfield, MO
  • Chicago, IL
  • West Bend, WI
  • Safford, AZ
  • San Diego, CA
  • West Linn, OR
  • Billings, MT & Boise, ID


Brent Canode Head Shot

“As a person in long-term recovery, I can personally share that, no matter what your journey may be, recovery is a reality. More than 23 million Americans are currently living in long-term recovery from addiction. We are police officers, elected officials, doctors, lawyers, school teachers – and we are a growing, organized movement aimed at ending addiction as we know it.” 

Brent Canode, Alano Club of Portland – Portland, OR

Part 3

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.

So far we have hosted a forum on Capitol Hill in March of 2017 focused on recovery housing, a key component of our long term goal to see 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. A second forum aimed at employment will be hosted in Fall of 2017.

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Dramatic Expansion of Prevention, Screening and Early Intervention Programs

Matt Statman Head Shot

“At the University of Michigan, we’ve built a collegiate recovery community that is vibrant, rich and shows every day that recovery is a reality – even on our college campuses. As a person in long-term recovery, I’m inspired every day by the hope I see.” 

Matt Statman, Collegiate Recovery Program at the University of Michigan – Ann Arbor, MI

Part 1

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.

To date we have:

  • Assembled a group of prevention professionals to develop our Community Convening Guide aimed at rallying communities around awareness and implementation of these programs. The guide is set to be released in May 2017.
  • Facing Addiction, in partnership with Transforming Youth Recovery and using Capacitype technology, has released the Addiction Resource Hub, a one stop shop of resources for individuals and their families looking for support in their communities.
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Part 2

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.

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Part 3

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.

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Part 4

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.

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Promoting Multiple Pathways of Recovery for Individuals and Their Families

Alexis Pleus Head Shot

“Addiction is a family disease. Everyone — moms, dads, brothers, sisters, loved ones, best friends — feels the ripple effects of a substance use disorder. We need to humanize addiction not just for the afflicted, but also for the affected.” 

Alexis Pleus, Truth Pharm – Windsor, NY

Part 1

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.

Additionally, Facing Addiction has formed a working group of individuals from across the spectrum who are working with us to develop a guide that outlines the many different pathways to recovery available for individuals and their families. The guide is in initial draft stages, and due for release in summer 2017.

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Angie Geren Head Shot copy

“It’s time to take action. No longer can the 1/3 of American families impacted by addiction be left in the shadows. I’m Facing Addiction in my community because it’s time.

Angie Geren, Addiction Haven – Chandler, AZ


Mainstreaming Addiction Health Services

Lauren Kirschberg Head Shot

“90% of those in need of treatment don’t receive it. It’s time we end the era of waiting periods for treatment and start extending help the moment someone is in need.” 

Lauren Kirschberg, Treatment Professionals in Alumni Services – Hattiesburg, MS

Part 1

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.

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Cathy Davis Head Shot

““Recovering from an addiction is a complex process. The road is never smooth. In fact, you will probably encounter obstacles, hardships, and heartaches. But it’s a journey that everyone hoping to recover from addiction must make. It is the only way to move from a life of destruction to a life of health, wellness, and joy. While there are many paths to recovery, there is one constant — and that’s hope.” 

Cathy Davis, Northern Ohio Recovery Organization – Cleveland, OH

Part 2

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.

So far, Facing Addiction’s Addiction Education Group, made up of medical professionals from across the country, has developed a survey for medical schools across the country aimed at identifying addiction curriculum currently in place that is up to satisfactory standards. The survey was released in April 2017 to over 160 medical institutions across the country, with a deadline of May 31st for submission.

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To learn more about Facing Addiction’s Working Groups, you may click here. If you have any questions on the progress to date of executing our agenda, please contact Facing Addiction’s Director of Outreach & Engagement, Michael King, at [email protected]

Dan Dadoun

“Education is the key. 9 out of 10 individuals who become addicted start using in adolescence. We need to accurately and more effectively educate the youngest among us about the realities of addiction. That starts with more effective programming and a more comprehensive approach.” 

Dan Dadoun, Addiction Education Society – San Mateo, CA

Sheldon Hill Head Shot

“My recovery is a win-win situation.” 

Sheldon Hill, SD Hill L3c Community Service Origination – Detroit, MI