News, Views and Advocacy Issues in Recovery Advocacy
Miscellaneous Musings from the Dec. 15, 2021, Monthly Advocacy Update
When our Betty Ford Center — the most recognized addiction treatment and mental health care provider in the world — celebrates its 40th anniversary in 2022, it will do so under the guidance of Tessa Voss, who today was announced as the fourth administrator and first woman to lead the Rancho Mirage institution co-founded by former First Lady Betty Ford.
Voss, who takes the helm on Monday, Dec. 20, also will serve as vice president of the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation’s California Region, leading the Betty Ford Center as well as treatment centers in San Diego and Los Angeles. Read today’s full announcement.
Kudos to the Chicago Department of Public Health for beginning to distribute free fentanyl test strips.
Why it matters? A synthetic and often deadly opioid, fentanyl is ravaging the country — driving overdose deaths to a record high. Even a small dose can be fatal, and now the drug is being surreptitiously mixed into all sorts of other substances, and people who use drugs never know what they’re getting. Test strips make it possible to find out, stave off potentially grave consequences, and continue to wrestle with the disease of addiction.
The bottom line: Fentanyl test strips should be part of a comprehensive toolkit and multi-faceted approach that also includes public education and helping more people access quality treatment and long-term recovery support. Other cities and states and the federal government, should follow Chicago’s lead in expanding access. That includes legalizing test strips in places where archaic laws prohibit them and removing unnecessary and harmful regulatory barriers that — believe it or not — prevent their use by health care providers like Hazelden Betty Ford that need to be able to quickly test for fentanyl when initiating care with patients.
📺 WATCH: Minnesota Gophers football coach P.J. Fleck and longtime Hazelden Betty Ford friend and prevention partner Angela Jerabek, founder and leader of the BARR Center (Building Assets, Reducing Risks), sat down for an inspiring, high-energy conversation about “Leading with Culture.” In the next episode of this three-part series, Jerabek will interview Hazelden Betty Ford President and CEO Dr. Joseph Lee. The BARR Center, in partnership with Hazelden Betty Ford’s prevention team, helps schools across the country support students socially, emotionally, academically and athletically.
📕 READ: In testimony Monday to a California Assembly committee, Hazelden Betty Ford Vice President and General Counsel Jenni Lohse advocated for higher standards of care for people with substance use and co-occurring disorders, saying addiction treatment has been marginalized and walled off from the mainstream health care system, and people in crisis are paying the price for that.
📺 WATCH: Russell Brand reflects on 19 years sober: “I believe in recovery. I believe in you. I believe in our future.”
📕 READ: States, counties and cities face a deadline in three weeks to sign onto the $26 billion opioid settlement deal, and most states have agreed to do so. But a few holdouts remain.
📕 READ: Great profile of award-winning composer and producer Russell Howard, who reminisces about “the moment I felt there’s something here in this recovery. This is unconditional love. This is different.”
📕 READ: Vanity Fair put a spotlight on the many TV depictions of the opioid crisis this year, from Dopesick to Mare of Easttown. I was happy to share thoughts about how “art reflects society” and how addiction is such “a significant thread in the story of our time.”
📺 WATCH: When the Sports Video Group (SVG) held its annual Hall of Fame dinner this week, honoring titans in the world of sports broadcasting, recovery advocacy was on the agenda, too. Our friends Geoff Mason and Jerry Steinberg, along with our CEO Dr. Joe Lee, had the opportunity to share the hope of recovery and the availability of help. Watch here (remarks begin at 1:37:35 mark).
📺 WATCH: Our William C. Moyers shared his remarkable story of recovery with more than 300 people watching in person and online at Peachtree Road United Methodist Church, a huge place of worship in Atlanta, where his journey to sustained recovery began 25 years ago and where Hazelden Betty Ford has established the Addiction Alliance of Georgia, a partnership with Emory Healthcare. It was his first public speaking appearance since the pandemic began 20 months ago. Watch.
🔊 LISTEN: William C. Moyers also shared his story during an in-depth interview on Political Rewind, a popular public radio show in Georgia hosted by Bill Nigut.
📕 READ: Minnesota health authorities declined to add anxiety as a condition for medical cannabis, citing public comments from health care practitioners including our President and CEO Dr. Joseph Lee. State Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm summed up their sentiments by saying: “there’s not enough scientific evidence of benefits … when compared to the possibility of ‘unintended consequences.’” Dig deeper.
📕 READ: With overdose deaths reaching new record highs, the Administration has made increasing access to naloxone a key part of its overdose prevention strategy. It has allotted an unprecedented $30 million in federal funds for harm-reduction groups and announced the creation of a model law that state legislatures can pass to improve access. One missing piece, according to many advocates, though: changing naloxone’s prescription-only status.
📕 READ: Minnesota is making another strong run to host the World’s Fair Expo around the theme “Healthy People, Healthy Planet” and our CEO Dr. Joseph Lee is helping make the case. What an amazing opportunity it would be to shine a global light on recovery.
📕 READ: Here’s some cause for optimism — while many reports this past year have highlighted increases in substance use-related problems during the pandemic, this year’s Monitoring the Future survey found that adolescents used substances less — significantly less — in 2021.
📺 WATCH: In his latest No Thanks But Yes video podcast, recovery activist Donald McDonald interviewed Rock ‘N Roll Hall of Famer Ricky Byrd about recovery and thriving even in the midst of holiday stress.
📕 READ: The Kennedy Forum has released a policy platform that outlines actions states can take to address rising rates of mental health and substance use disorders across the nation.
🔊 LISTEN: Our friend Neil Scott interviewed Hazelden Betty Ford Trustee Susan Ford Bales, Betty Ford’s daughter, about their family’s recovery and the founding of the Betty Ford Center, which turns 40 next year.
🔊 LISTEN: Los Angeles Dodgers great Maury Wills was back on the ballot for the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame vote this month. Though he wasn’t enshrined this time, it reminded us of his great talk he gave for the Betty Ford Center’s Awareness Hour.
🔊 LISTEN: It’s always fun to start seeing end-of-year lists that capture important themes. One I noted was Medical Alley’s list of its top podcast episodes of 2021, which included this one with our National Executive Director of Mental Health Leslie Adair, PhD.
📕 READ: A too often overlooked addiction…gambling.
📕 READ: Interestingly, new research found that highly fit people drink more alcohol than their less-fit friends. Probably not a good reason to stay home from the gym though!
📕 READ: Researchers say a Congolese Pygmy hunter–gatherer tribe living in the rainforests of Central Africa has seen its members succumb to alcoholism as logging companies and conservation groups abuse and coerce them into relinquishing their traditional way of life.
📕 READ: A mother who lost three loved ones when an intoxicated driver crashed into their vehicle wants drunk drivers who kill a parent to pay child support.
📕 READ: Historian and deep-thinking recovery advocate William White wrote recently about recovery as a revolutionary concept.
🧠 RECOVERY ALMANAC: During the 1888 holiday season (133 years ago), this classified ad ran regularly in the Chicago Tribune. Over the next decade, the Keeley Institute opened more than 200 branches globally, and its so-called bichloride of gold cure for drunkenness was administered to more than 300,000 people.
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