Recovery Voices Count
As we approach the next election, it is clear that we must include the Faces & Voices of Recovery at all levels of campaigning. It is in our hands, and those of our community, to help those running for office understand the significance of substance use disorders and support the wide range of recovery efforts across America.
Take Action Today
The suggestions that follow are intended to complement formal, larger-scale efforts you may have underway, such as voter registration projects or structured get-out-the-vote programs.
The ideas in the Advocacy Toolkit are a series of very practical initiatives, tactics, and messages that you can act on right away. They are a mix of activities that will help you build a constant presence, and help you expand your network of recovery advocates.
It is important to lift all voices in advocacy efforts. Access to voting is a constitutional guarantee and should be openly available. For Black, Brown, Indigenous, and other marginalized communities, this ideal has been abridged, suppressed, and in some cases threatened with violence. For many involved with the criminal justice system, information about restoring the right to vote for individuals with felony convictions is overly complex and varies from state to state. As advocates, we are compelled to support and engage in the free and fair electoral process and make sure all voices are heard.
Identify Recovery Allies
Expanding your network is vital. Each member of your Cluster should identify five people you know who are aware of your role in the recovery world but who themselves are not part of it. Reach out to them periodically over the next seven weeks. Remind them that recovery from substance use disorders benefits the entire community.
Key Dates Card
As soon as possible, every state should develop a simple “Key Dates” card that identifies all the deadlines for:
- Mail-in ballot applications
- Mail-in voting
- Absentee ballots (where different)
- Early voting dates
While you may not be able to distribute the cards as you normally would, they should be featured on your website and be regularly distributed through social media. Each card should include your state election board’s website.
Acknowledge the Role of COVID-19
As you think about advocacy work, the implications of the COVID pandemic must be foremost in your mind.
The implications are primarily two-fold: one, many standard, in-person campaign activities simply can’t happen, or are too difficult and cumbersome to execute even if they are permissible.
Two, as you know, the pandemic is adversely affecting both addiction and recovery. Your communications must acknowledge this painful fact where appropriate.
Most media markets have at least one news-talk radio program that features listener call-ins. Take advantage of them. Research your stations and their procedures for call-ins, start listening, and pick up the phone! And remember, the topic doesn’t have to be recovery – if the host is talking about Election 2020, then Recovery Voices Count!