News About Addiction, Recovery and Advocacy
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2020 was a challenging time. It may have looked different. We may have had less hugs and more virtual high-fives, but we were still able to accomplish amazing things.
This ongoing series will look at some of the amazing Recovery Community Organizations, their struggles, triumphs, and unrelenting desire to help others find health, wellness, and success on their journeys of recovery.
In March of last year, Recovery Community Network in Central Minnesota, made the difficult decision to shut their physical doors due to COVID-19 restrictions. Just prior to their closure, Recovery Community Network (RCN) with the assistance of funding from the Department of Health Services, was in process of opening new offices. What was to be a joyous occasion, turned into a store faced by many in 2020, but through struggle comes growth.
RCN Director, Major John Donovan, and his staff, had to make a complete virtual shift. Organizational growth that was planned to be implemented and enacted during year 2 or 3 of the brick and mortar facility, now had to happen at warp-speed. A website was created. A Constant Contact account, which allowed RCN to mass email and make connections to their email network, was enabled. By adapting to the need for change, and embracing the very spirit of recovery, RCN managed to grow their 1400-member listserv to nearly 6000 members by year’s end.
In the COVID-19 world, digital meetings via Zoom have become a standard of 2020, but RCN took the common TRS (Telephonic Recovery Services) system of communication used by Recovery Community Organizations and built on that system by creating TORS (Telephonic Online Recovery Services). Realizing that Gen Y and Millennials don’t always respond well to phone calls, they created a text system, with weekly check-ins of simple questions and conversation starters, like “How are you doing on your Recovery this week?” Those simple texts granted opportunity for an individual to seek support on their recovery journey. Donovan says that those moments, where individuals feel comfortable in showing vulnerability – knowing they need additional help – makes for some “good news stories,” and makes it all worth it.
While many programs changed, the Recovery Community Network’s goal for continued recovery support services for Veterans did not. Major Donovan, who served in the United States Military for 27 years and is a person in long-term recovery for 42 years, has blended his experiences into the programs for RCN by engaging the Veteran community in Central Minnesota.
The Recovery Coach Academy is a workshop training offered by RCN for trainings of individuals hoping to find jobs in Peer Recovery Support Services. Through grants, they have been able to offer the Recovery Coach Academy training to 16 Veterans. The program has proven wildly popular and in 2021 they will be able to provide full scholarships to another 12 veterans! Donovan feels that through these programs, Veterans can use their recovery to give back to those around them. Service to others and their country is something Maj. Donovan has found to aid Veterans in their recovery.
RCN also recently received a $5000 grant from Central Minnesota Community Foundation for a transportation program, which provides free transportation to individuals entering residential care for their substance use. Donovan elaborates, “when an individual makes the decision to enter a [treatment] program, often their only option is to drive themselves to a facility which is not always the safest choice.” Through this program they will provide free and safe transportation to residential treatment. The program will also provide transportation for individuals in local halfway homes to mutual-aid group meetings.
We can all admit that 2020 was challenging for many, but Recovery Community Network and many other RCO’s have proven that the Recovery Community will not be stopped from performing their missions and services to help individuals with substance use disorder and their communities. We cannot wait to see what 2021 has in store us!
If you have a story you want to share, please reach out to Emily Porcelli at firstname.lastname@example.org.
January 21, 2021
As we enter our twentieth anniversary, we trim last year’s vegetation and nourish the roots that have allowed the Recovery Movement to flower and grow – advocacy.
As a new Administration and Congressional term begin, we look to the future. Through the building of new relationships with decision-makers and key partners, we continue to prioritize the faces and voices of those in recovery, those using substances, and their families.
Today, we introduce our federal policy and advocacy priorities for the next two years. Take these priorities with you. Cultivate the diverse voices of individuals and their families affected by addiction. In your community or on Capitol Hill, carry these priorities with intention. Sow the expectation of recovery and raise your voice – we’ve got growing to do.
Review our priorities here:
National Advocacy and Outreach Manager
Faces & Voices of Recovery
Advocate. Act. Advance
Members of the Recovery Community would like to congratulate both Mayor Marty Walsh and U.S. Representative Deb Haaland, announced by President-elect Biden to be nominated to cabinet level positions in the new Administration. Both Walsh and Haaland are public figures who are open about their long-term recovery from substance use disorders.
In December, President-elect Biden chose Rep. Deb Haaland (D-N.M.) to serve as the first Native American as Secretary of the Interior Department. During the #CongressGoesPurple observance of National Recovery Month, Congresswoman Haaland wrote on Twitter “As someone who is in recovery, I want to offer a message of hope to anyone struggling with addiction. You are strong and you have my support.”
On January 7th, the Biden-Harris Administration announced plans to nominate Boston’s Mayor, Marty Walsh, for the next U.S. Secretary of Labor. In addition to his ample accomplishments in the labor sector and on behalf of working-class Americans nationwide, Mayor Walsh has paved pathways to progress and growth for those in recovery from addiction. As a person with more than 25 years in recovery, he has been a tireless advocate for the addiction recovery community. Mayor Walsh has spoken publicly about his own journey, invested in resources to support countless Bostonians, and even established The Mayor’s Office of Recovery Services.
We have no doubt that as Cabinet-level policymakers Haaland and Walsh will use every opportunity to highlight their own stories as shining examples of the power of recovery. Through providing platforms and opportunities for Americans in recovery, we are also creating hope for struggling individuals and families by reducing the stigma associated with substance use disorders.
As national recovery organizations representing hundreds of affiliates nationwide and millions of American in long-term recovery, we hope that these nominees will be among many people in recovery in the Biden-Harris Administration. We aim to serve as a resource to the Biden-Harris administration to ensure that the voices of recovery are included in policy discussions at every level of our government.