Recovery in the Zeitgeist

… and other recovery advocacy news, issues & musings


Written and curated, with commentary, by Jeremiah Gardner

NOTE: This was originally published for the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation’s monthly Recovery Advocacy Update. If you’d like to receive our advocacy emails, subscribe today.

#12 Darren Waller

It’s National Recovery Month, and you know what else that means? The NFL season is under way! Two big moments for me during the season’s opening week of football: 1) watching All-Pro Darren Waller wear his new №12 for the New York Giants in tribute to the Twelve Steps and 2) seeing Miami Dolphins head coach Mike McDaniel credit his recovery for making him a better coach.

At Hazelden Betty Ford, we’re also excited and grateful that the Minnesota Vikings will have a presence at our second-annual Sober Tailgate Party on Sept. 30 in St. Paul — part of the first-ever Mobilize Recovery Day of Service. In addition, I’m personally eager to make my first trip to Green Bay on Oct. 29, when I’ll get to experience Section Yellow — a sober oasis at Lambeau Field. During this month’s Mobilize Recovery annual meeting in Washington, D.C., I also look forward to seeing the original working draft manuscript of the “Big Book” on display — courtesy of Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay, who is an openly sober person, and his Jim Irsay Collection. (Note: Hazelden published a facsimile version of the manuscript — The Book That Started It All — in 2010.)

These days, the NFL is at the center of American culture, so it’s encouraging to see recovery publicly intersecting in so many different ways with the people involved in pro football. That can only diminish stigma, normalize recovery, and attract more people to help.

To continue with a common football metaphor, I was invited by Faces & Voices of Recovery, where I serve on the board, to help “kick off” Recovery Month by writing 25 Years of the Modern RCO. What an honor it was to pay tribute to the pioneers who paved the way for today’s recovery community organization landscape and to celebrate all those working to expand it further now and into the future. Thank you RCOs, and congratulations!

Another honor: attending Faces & Voices of Recovery’s National Recovery Month “Kickoff” Luncheon and its Recovery Walk with SAMHSA in Washington, D.C.

Scenes from the Recovery Walk in DC on Sept. 7, 2023

One thing I hate about sports these days, and you see it in other parts of the culture as well: this phrase, “inject it directly in my veins.” I guess it’s a way of saying you really like something and want more of it in your life. You often see baseball players faux-injecting as they round the bases after a home run. It’s grossly inappropriate, in my opinion, given the harms associated with IV drug use and the devastation wrought by America’s opioid crisis.

One thing I’m excited about is the recovery data that will — for the first time — be part of the upcoming National Survey on Drug Use and Health report and all annual NDSUH reports thereafter. On Sept. 20, as a post-script to the Mobilize Recovery meeting in DC, SAMHSA will highlight the new recovery data at a special event, and I’m thrilled to be able to attend. For decades, the U.S. has diligently collected data on substance use and addiction but rarely on recovery. Understanding more about recovery rates, and the barriers and assets to recovery, should help the nation create and invest in better solutions.

(L to R) Sen. Pete Domenici, Sen. Ted Kennedy, President George W. Bush, Rep. Patrick Kennedy and Rep. Jim Ramstad.

Oct. 3 will mark the 15th anniversary of the historic signing of the federal “Parity” law, which requires that group- and self-insured health plans providing behavioral health benefits do so on par with medical and surgical care.

It took more than a decade for the historic law to pass (see William C. Moyers’ article All in the Family) and several more years to implement, and many argue it is still not sufficiently enforced. But check out the positive news that emerged recently in a parity-related legal case. The Administration is also looking to put much-needed teeth into parity regulations. A bill in Congress offers promise, too — maybe not this year, but down the road.

I just hope that as parity progresses, outcomes research does too so we can justify more comprehensive, longer care. Ensuring care that is insufficient is only a half-gain.

HHS is recommending that the DEA “reschedule” marijuana even though — according to most reports — it’s getting more potent and posing more health risks, including increased rates of cannabis use disorder. Smart Approaches to Marijuana warns that the recommendation doesn’t follow science and will accelerate widespread commercialization and public harm.

For Recovery Month, Hazelden Betty Ford is publishing several special episodes of our Let’s Talk Addiction & Recovery podcast hosted by William C. Moyers. New episodes feature retired NBA star Willie Burton, actress Dedee Pfeiffer, and Hazelden Betty Ford’s Emily Piper and Jeremiah Gardner (me!), among others.

Let’s Talk Addiction & Recovery hosted by William C. Moyers

STAT examines what presidential candidates are saying about fentanyl and the opioid crisis.

California is testing a program, run through Medicaid, that lets methamphetamine users earn gift cards by testing negative.

Meet the people deciding how to spend $50 billion in opioid settlement cash. And check out some of ways settlement dollars are being spent.

In other opioid litigation and settlement news, Kroger settled its case, the Supreme Court paused the Purdue Pharma settlement pending review, drugmaker Mallinckrodt filed for its second bankruptcy, and some are raising concerns about the $120 million that private lawyers will pocket in Florida’s opioid case.

Narcan is easier to get now but may be too expensive for some.

Faces & Voices of Recovery COO Phil Rutherford discusses the power and current state of peer support in America in an interview with the Alliance for Addiction Payment Reform.

SAMHSA released 11 best practices for recovery housing. Very helpful, but too late in Arizona, and perhaps not enough to stop fraudulent sober homes there that took advantage of a Medicaid loophole to collect millions while letting Native people drink and use drugs, according to investigators.

Alcohol? Gen Z is saying no. And New York is in the middle of a non-alcoholic revolution making its way to L.A. too.

In other alcohol-related news, a doctor discusses the unusual ways that drinking in the sun affects one’s body, and new research explores the nuance of “tolerance.

The 7th annual Recovery Reinvented event in North Dakota is coming up Oct. 5! Register to attend virtually or in person.

A new study examined the role of religion in substance use services and also found that such services are often located in racially diverse communities.

The author of Father Ed: The Story of Bill W’s Spiritual Sponsor is speaking in a free webinar from the Center of Addiction & Faith on Sept. 27.

Hear from people who have used tattoos to turn their experiences into visual symbols of triumph and resilience.

(L to R) Jeremiah Gardner, Suzy Oswald and Chris Deets at the Minnesota Walk for Recovery; Renee Most, Cendee Palmer and Karyn Else at Rally Caps for Recovery with the Minnesota Twins at Target Field; and Lori Anderson, Jeanne Ren, Betsy Haverlandt, Carrie Bates, Heidi Wallace and others from Hazelden Betty Ford’s Northwest Region at the “Recovery Day at the Mariners” game at Seattle’s T-Mobile Park.

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Jeremiah Gardner is director of communications and public affairs for the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation.

Jeremiah Gardner



Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation

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