Recovery must be available to everyone, equally.
After his first year as Executive Director of The Alcohol/Drug Council of North Carolina, Kurtis Taylor is helping lead the charge against substance use disorder in the South. He guides his team and ensures they’re equipped with evidence-based information and allowed to perform at their highest potential. He’s a vocal advocate for people challenged with substance use disorders. Most of all, he says, “I place all of my faith and all of my trust in God—I am nothing without Him.”
Kurtis is a person in long-term recovery, which for him means that he has not used alcohol or any other substance in over 16 years. Prior to his current position at ADCNC, he worked for Oxford House, Inc. for roughly 14 years. During that time, he opened over 40 new Oxford Houses and also served as the Statewide Reentry Coordinator for North Carolina. However, he says, his most important role is being a father to his beautiful 25-year-old daughter and wonderful 17-year-old son.
Kurtis said, “It’s actually pretty simple: somebody was willing to assist me when I reached out for help, so I am determined to be there to help any person that needs assistance finding their unique pathway to sustained recovery. I am passionate about helping to end mass incarceration. Instead, I am working to create mass education, health, wellness, and empowerment!”
Addiction is a complex illness that affects families, neighborhoods, and communities. The African American community is especially affected, which is why groups like ADCNC do such vital work with outreach, treatment, and support. In North Carolina, many people lack access to recovery resources, and there is an extreme disparity of access to care. Furthermore, lawmakers recently cut more than $700 million from the budget that serves NC citizens who are challenged with mental health and/or substance use disorders. Without Medicaid expansion, hundreds of thousands of people in North Carolina are uninsured or under-insured due to the state legislature’s rejection of Medicaid Expansion. This leaves them with no way to pay for treatment.
Many of the people affected by addiction will never ask for help. According to the Surgeon General’s 2016 report on addiction, fewer than 10 percent of people with substance use disorder will ever seek medical care of any kind for their illness. Kurtis said, “Stigma continues to be the largest barrier. There is a misconception that the development of a substance use disorder means a person is weak or morally flawed, instead of acknowledging that addiction is a brain disease. Our society still criminalizes substance use disorders, and this is extremely prevalent in the African-American community. Thousands upon thousands of Black men and women are incarcerated when what they really need is treatment and recovery supports.”
Making treatment available to everyone, regardless of race, class, or economic status, is critical to saving lives in North Carolina. Kurtis says that ADCNC not only advocates for people in recovery at the state level, but also offers hotline information and referrals to substance use disorder services, while building mutually beneficial relationships with essential community partners. Although it’s an uphill battle some days, Kurtis knows that recovery will win the day, when people get the care, community, and support they need.
He emphasized that it’s important to “highlight and embrace stories that embody triumph over tragedy. We must put a face on recovery and normalize the recovery process in our society. We must implement programs and policies that place equal value on all people—not those that only benefit the privileged.”
Recovery must be available to everyone, equally. To save lives, it’s important to meet people where they are in their recovery journey, rather than only serving the few who are able to help themselves.