Recovery Advocacy News, Issues, Must-Reads & Musings (Feb 2024)

Curation with occasional commentary by Jeremiah Gardner

Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation
6 min readJan 22, 2024

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

Visit the website: SoberBowl 2024

🏈BIG GAME DAY: Alcohol wasn’t flowing at every Super Bowl shindig this year. In fact, while the Big Game was played in Las Vegas, an exciting alcohol-free party took place right across town — SoberBowl 2024! The 3-hour, pre-game benefit production included live entertainment plus pro-athlete panel discussions, and inspiring personal stories — followed by the best Game Watch Party in Vegas. Hazelden Betty Ford was the proud partner of SoberBowl when the Big Game was held in Minneapolis in 2018. It was great to see friends involved again, including 2023 Hazelden Betty Ford Graduate School commencement speaker Leigh Steinberg, sportscaster and former NFL quarterback Ryan Leaf, comedian Craig Gass, and SoberBowl founder Tracy Abbott and Co-founder Phil Sudan, along with the legendary Earl Campbell; Huntley, the newest winner of The Voice; and many others. We were excited to see the SoberBowl tradition continue!

Panel discussion following Feb. 9 performance of The White Chip in NYC. (L to R): Annaleigh Ashford, Barbara Manocherian, Jason Tam, Joe Tapper and William C. Moyers.

🎭 ON STAGE: Hazelden Betty Ford and friends filled a New York City theater on Feb. 9 for a performance of the recovery comedy, The White Chip. Immediately afterward, executive producer and award-winning actress Annaleigh Ashford (seated, at left) joined fellow producer Barbara Manochurian, cast members Jason Tam and Joe Tapper, and our own William C. Moyers for an engaging panel discussion. Read our pre-event Q&A with Ashford and this great Axios interview with writer Sean Daniels about using humor on stage to combat addiction.

Hazelden Betty Ford President and CEO Dr. Joseph Lee. (Photo by Jenn Ackerman for The New York Times)

📕 READ: The New York Times posed a simple question that is a jumping-off point for many nuanced and important questions filling the substance use, treatment and recovery zeitgeist: What does being sober mean today? Hazelden Betty Ford President and CEO Dr. Joseph Lee was among those to contribute, and he shared this more in-depth reaction on LinkedIn:

Recovery is diverse and there are multiple pathways of recovery. At the same time, healthcare for chronic conditions must consider risk and include guidance and recommendations based on that risk. The higher the risk, the more guidelines and recommendations there are. This is true of any chronic medical condition.

These guidelines are not monolithic, but for people with severe substance use disorders, abstinence (which may include medications) is the gold-standard recommendation for reducing risk.

As a child and adolescent psychiatrist, an addiction medicine physician, and a motivational interviewing trainer, I speak from experience when I say this guidance can be offered seamlessly on the foundation of empathy, absolute worth, non-judgment and respect for autonomy. But “meeting people where they are at” is where motivational interviewing starts, not where it ends. This is to say that healthcare dialogues are directional; the dance of therapy guides patients toward well-being and away from risk. A “you do you” viewpoint devoid of directionality belongs more in a sociopolitical arena than in healthcare; it is not a viable strategy for addressing the nation’s addiction crisis and is not the primary strategy for any treatable chronic medical condition.

Another reason it’s not viable, as I was able to share in this article, is that we humans do a very poor job of assessing our own risk, especially those in the throes of severe substance use. And it’s in this vacuum that commercial entities have repeatedly, throughout history, preyed upon these distorted self-assessments for excessive consumption and profit.

Risk is the right lens, and Dr. Lee’s words represent the shift in dialogue we need.

📕 RELATED READS: Toward a Unified Field Theory of Human Flourishing | Frameworks #1 AND What is recovery? | Frameworks #2 — both by Dr. Carl Erik Fisher.

📕 READ: The Biden Administration this week issued a long-awaited final rule that marks a historic step toward modernizing privacy regulations for people with substance use disorders and ensuring patients receive improved, coordinated, whole-person care. We look forward to examining the final rule — it’s 385 pages long — and its impact on improving quality of care across the nation. The Partnership to Amend 42 CFR Part 2, a coalition of 50 health care organizations, including Hazelden Betty Ford, has been committed for several years to aligning 42 CFR Part 2 with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) for the purposes of treatment, payment, and health care operations.

📕 READ: SAMHSA also issued a final rule making COVID-era flexibilities permanent for opioid treatment programs (OTPs). The new rule allows some OTP providers to prescribe “medications for opioid use disorder,” such as buprenorphine, via telehealth without an initial in-person exam. It also allows them to dispense unsupervised, take-home doses of methadone to relatively stable patients. This marks the first time OTP regulations have been substantially updated in two decades.

📕 READ: Thanks to a new collaboration with the nonprofit Infinite Ingredient, Hazelden Betty Ford’s Workplace Wellbeing Portal is now available to the more than 150,000 U.S.-based people working for craft breweries, offering a confidential avenue to discuss and address substance use and mental health challenges.

📕 READ: The new 30th anniversary edition of A Woman’s Way through the Twelve Steps features five new voices.

Angela M.

📕 READ: Angela M. was just 8 when she participated in the Children’s Program at the Betty Ford Center. Years later, she returned to participate in Hazelden Betty Ford’s Summer Institute for Medical Students. What an awesome full-circle journey! Read: Life Lessons from the Children’s Program: Angela’s Story.

📕 READ: A Washington state representative hopes sharing her recovery story will inspire others to seek help.

📺 WATCH: A Minnesota recovery support organization has come under scrutiny for questionable billing practices.

📕 READ: The state of New Jersey put out a scathing report: THE DIRTY BUSINESS BEHIND GETTING CLEAN: Fraud, Ethical Misconduct and Corruption in the Addiction Rehabilitation Industry, implicating an assortment of treatment centers, peer recovery professionals and sober homes. Clearly more work to do there on industry reforms …

📕 READ: In related news, ASAM released a Public Policy Statement on Government Strategies to Foster Ethical Addiction Treatment.

📕 READ: A funny thing happened when author Sam Quinones, who has been documenting the opioid crisis for a decade, visited the town of Hazard, Ky., last spring. Even though the town sits in the county most devastated by opioids in the whole of the United States, Quinones looked around and saw “pockets of hope” thanks to the local recovery community.

📺 WATCH: Minnesota parents Heather and Randy Bacchus joined U.S. Sens. Pete Ricketts and Pete Sessions on Capitol Hill as they announced a resolution that calls for limits on “high-potency marijuana” products. Called Randy’s Resolution after Randy Bacchus III, who took his own life while suffering from cannabis-induced psychosis, it urges federal, state, and local governments to collaborate with public health organizations, medical professionals, and community stakeholders to develop evidence-based policies that address the public health and safety concerns associated with high-potency marijuana.

📕 READ: Sadly, just as anticipated, more potent cannabis and more frequent use are contributing to higher rates of psychosis, especially in young people.

📕 READ: In Italy, U.S. students are experiencing a clash of drinking cultures.

📕 READ: The backlash and backpedaling continues in Oregon over policies that have led to rampant public drug use.

📕 READ: The Substance Use Disorder Prevention that Promotes Opioid Recovery and Treatment (SUPPORT) for Patients and Communities Act was signed into law in 2018 to combat the opioid epidemic. The Addiction Policy Forum issued a comparison of the two bills currently under consideration by Congress to reauthorize the SUPPORT Act.

📕 READ: People in recovery from problematic substance use can often use a coach, a role model, a sounding board, an advocate, and a cheerleader. A peer specialist fills these roles and more. SAMHSA describes how in its new Consumer Guide: How Can a Peer Specialist Support My Recovery From Problematic Substance Use? For People Seeking Recovery.

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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