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. To view the list of over 600 Action Network partners who stand in support of the agenda below, please click here.

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.

Facing Addiction has worked in partnership with the Recovery Research Institute to expand the ADDICTIONary tool they’ve developed, expanding the range of terminology defined within this resource. A Working Group is currently designing amplification presentations to target key constituencies such as Recovery Advocates, Medical & Research professions, and the media.


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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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Working with professionals from the criminal justice arena, Facing Addiction is in the process of developing training programs on addiction and recovery aimed at criminal and juvenile justice stakeholders


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 has identified 15 communities to participate in our Pilot Community Project – one goal of which will be to model diversion strategies similar to those in Gloucester, MA and Seattle, WA. This application process ran from October 2016 through January 2017, and included 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 15 targeted communities for our Pilot Community Project as announced March of 2017. Out of 50 applications received the communities selected are:

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


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.

Facing Addiction’s has created a Legislation Working Group is tasked with performing background research and evaluate possible legislative options toward achieving this goal. To date, Facing Addiction 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 early 2018. While developing a legislative approach, the Working Group 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.

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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 has developed a community convening guide aimed at bringing  together community leaders to organize forums calling for expansions of evidence based prevention practices. The guide will be officially released in June 2017. The Working Group responsible for the development of this guide is currently researching communities and constituencies with a vested interest in expanding such programming, and will be working to identify communities where forums can be held.

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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 is in the process of designing an Advocacy & Organizing Training, which will focus on 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 September 2017. It will be utilized in Facing Addiction’s 15 pilot communities this fall, and available to other communities across the country as well.

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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 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.

After completion of the guide, Facing Addiction will look to relevant industry leaders in the treatment area, as well as through agencies such as the National Institutes of Health to further amplify this critical guide.

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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.


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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’s Addiction Education Working 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..

Utilizing the findings of this survey, Facing Addiction’s Addiction Education Working Group will identify 5-10 institutions will successful curriculum and programming around the critical area of addiction education. Also based upon the findings of this initial outreach, Facing Addiction will develop a process for each professional school to institutionalize an addiction curriculum.

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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