The Latest Advocacy News

Headlines on Addiction, Treatment and Recovery Policy, curated by our Institute for Recovery Advocacy


The final week of this Congress is coming up, and it will be a busy and divisive one in Washington.

But there are and have been some very exciting – and positive! – recovery-focused events happening around the country. The Institute for Recovery Advocacy will cap off National Recovery Month by gathering at the Big Texas Rally for Recovery on Sunday, Oct. 2, in Dallas. Our own William Moyers is a keynote speaker for the event. If you are in the area, please join us for the rally and also the day before, on Saturday, Oct. 1, for a day of exciting pre-rally events taking place on the campus of Southern Methodist University.

One of the pre-rally events is an Ice Cream Social, and we have a special treat in store. In addition to speakers like Sasha Coles McLean, Emilio Parker and John Cates from the movie Generation Found; Joe Powell, CEO of the organization hosting the rally; Kyle Pillans from our world-renowned Children’s Program; and Neil Scott, host of Recovery Coast to Coast radio, we will have a special “DaVerse Lounge” performance by rally emcee Will Richey and Alejandro Perez, Jr. Their dynamic and interactive blend of original stories, poetry and music will help us reflect on the history of recovery advocacy and inspire us to continue discovering our individual and collective recovery voices so that we can bring more strength, healing and hope to the next generation. It’s a free event to be followed by a special screening of Generation Found, and preceded by a free Recovery Ambassador Workshop. Go here for details on all of the events taking place Oct. 1 and 2 and to register for those you want to attend.

We were also privileged to join with the U.S. Attorney's Office-District of Minnesota, the U.S. Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF) and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) in organizing a national symposium featuring law enforcement and public health officials from around the country in an unprecedented effort to share best practices, learn from each other and advance efforts to work collaboratively to end the opioid epidemic.

More photos here

The national event – Saving Lives: Innovative Solutions to the Opioid Crisis – was held Sept. 7-8 at the Minneapolis Convention Center. Almost 700 people from 41 states attended.

A week later, U.S. Attorney General Lynch outlined a renewed Department of Justice strategy to address the opioid crisis, with federal prosecutors directed to coordinate their enforcement efforts with public health authorities in their districts and put equal emphasis on prevention and treatment.  

"It was a great mission-fulfilling success for the Institute for Recovery Advocacy and the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation," said Nick Motu, vice president of our Institute for Recovery Advocacy. "We were able to convene a national audience of law enforcement and addiction treatment professionals for a ‘think tank' of sorts, sharing the information and tools we all need to continue fighting together against the greatest drug-related public health crisis to develop in our lifetime."

Speakers and facilitators from the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation included Motu; Dr. Marvin Seppala, chief medical officer; Dr. Joseph Lee, medical director for the Youth Continuum; Joe Jaksha, publisher; and Jeremiah Gardner, manager of the Institute for Recovery Advocacy. U.S. Attorney Andrew Luger from Minnesota emceed the event. Other prominent speakers included DEA Administrator Chuck Rosenberg; Associate U.S. Attorney General Bruce Ohr, who heads up OCDETF; Minnesota Department of Human Services Commissioner Emily Johnson Piper; Kentucky Secretary of Justice and Public Safety John Tilley; and many more. Seven of the nation's U.S. Attorneys were in attendance.

Looking ahead again, the Concert to Face Addiction is airing nationwide now and will air in the Twin Cities on Sunday, Oct. 2, at 1 pm on TPT. The show will include a full hour of musical highlights from the historic Unite to Face Addiction event we were a part of last fall on the National Mall. See here for the trailer and other scheduled airdates nationwide. It’s a great opportunity for house parties and other group viewings.

Speaking of rallies, Jeremiah spoke at the recent “Fed Up! Rally” in Washington, which included a march from the Washington Monument to the U.S. Capitol and a spirited call for funding to support the recently passed Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA). White House Director of National Drug Policy Michael Botticelli was among the other speakers.

More photos here

In the week following the Sept. 18 rally, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) introduced a stopgap spending plan that includes  funding for CARA. The text of the so-called “Continuing Resolution” can be viewed here, and a section-by-section summary of the Continuing Resolution can be viewed here. Debate is continuing on the measure, with an expected vote later this week.  

And because we have taken a brief interregnum from publishing, we want to update on some of our other recent activities.

  • We were privileged to have Congressmen Tom Emmer of Minnesota (pics) and Randy Hultgren of Illinois (pics) both stop by our Plymouth, Minn., facility on separate dates recently, to discuss the opioid crisis and learn more about addiction issues generally.

  • HazelFest was a smashing success. See pics from this impactful public recovery celebration held in early August. One highlight was welcoming members of our online recovery community – – to the festival, including Tom Humpston, aka MusicianThomas, who spoke and performed on our #LifeTake2 stage.

  • Dr. Bob Dupont, the first Director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) from 1973 to 1978 and the second White House Drug Czar from 1973 to 1977, facilitated a workshop at Hazelden in Center City on Aug. 24, a couple of days before speaking at the Hazelden Betty Ford Graduate School of Addiction Studies' commencement. His topic – the “five-year recovery standard.” See pics.

  • U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) held a news conference on Aug. 16 at Hazelden in Plymouth to discuss the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act and her follow-up bill, the Prescription Drug Monitoring Act. See pics.

  • We sponsored Minnesota Recovery Connection’s National Recovery Month activities, including a great recovery walk that attracted 4,000 to the Lake of the Isles in Minneapolis. Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation’s Michael Rydberg and Nell Hurley are pictured below at our booth at the Minnesota Walk for Recovery.

  • And the Institute for Recovery Advocacy also co-hosted special premiere screenings of Generation Found, the new film from the creators of The Anonymous People, calling on communities to create robust recovery environments for youth. Jeremiah, pictured below with executive producer and co-creator Greg Williams, facilitated a panel discussion after a screening in Roseville, Minn. Meanwhile, the Betty Ford Center’s Matt Polacek participated in a panel discussion following the premiere in North Hollywood. Another screening is this week – Thursday, Sept. 27 – at Lagoon Cinema in Minneapolis. Jim Wynne, from Hazelden in Plymouth, will participate in the post-film discussion there. And of course, we’re co-hosting another screening in Dallas during the Big Texas Rally for Recovery. It’s an inspiring, must-see movie for recovery advocates!

  • The Institute also sponsored our friend Tommy Rosen’s latest Recovery 2.0 Online Conference this month. The always-great, week-long event featured among its speakers our William Moyers and Ahmed Eid, as well as Hazelden Publishing author Thérèse Jacobs-Stewart.

  • William also spoke at several other recent events, including the Know Your Chicago symposium in Illinois, the annual Avera and Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation Symposium in Sioux Falls, SD, and Vermont’s Step into Action Recovery Walk, held this past weekend. 

  • In addition, we had the pleasure of hosting some other advocates to our facilities here in Minnesota recently, including Ivana Grahovac (now with Facing Addiction) and Lisa Simone (below, with Jeremiah and William) with Faces and Voices of Recovery Canada. 

Look for more policy news next week. But there are a couple of important issue articles that merit attention:

Opioids. Internal documents show Abbott’s Bold ‘Crusade’ To Sell OxyContin.

Marijuana. The Administration made a decision on scientific research on marijuana, expanding the number of agencies that can legally grow the plant but deciding the DEA will continue to classify marijuana as a dangerous drug with “no accepted medical use.” Clearly the debate over marijuana continues to be heated.

Parity. Access to addiction treatment remains a major issue. Big news recently out of New York on the topic, as Governor Cuomo announced the Department of Financial Services has issued guidance to ensure that insurers do not unfairly discriminate against individuals facing mental health disorders.

  • And in Congress on this issue, the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee Health Subcommittee held a hearing entitled, “An Examination of Federal Mental Health Parity Laws and Regulations.” Full witness testimony is available here.

Recovery. Watch video: Olympian Michael Phelps discusses his recovery.

  • Gold medalist Anthony Ervin made an astonishing comeback from drug problems and attempted suicide

  • Art is a cornerstone of mental health and recovery for some of the students at Augsburg College.

  • One medical student at the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation’s Summer Institute found her life changed by listening to families talk about the impact of addiction.

The Concert to Face Addiction

PBS affiliates across the country are airing The Concert to Face Addiction, a one-hour special, taped Oct. 4, 2015, from the UNITE to Face Addiction rally. The concert will air in the Twin Cities on TPT, Sunday, Oct. 2, at 1 pm. Check here for other scheduled airdates nationwide. Great opportunity for viewing parties!

Big Texas Rally for Recovery

Out of the shadows and into the light ... Celebrate Recovery! Our Institute for Recovery Advocacy will cap off National Recovery Month at the Big Texas Rally for Recovery on Sunday, Oct. 2, in Dallas. Join us for the rally and also the day before - Saturday, Oct. 1 - for exciting pre-rally events on the campus of SMU.

'Generation Found' Film Trailer

Take a sneak peek and then get your tickets and join the Hazelden Betty Ford Institute for Recovery Advocacy at upcoming screenings in Minneapolis (9/29) and Dallas (10/1).

The Honeydogs' Adam Levy, Ryan Plewacki Talk Recovery

Adam Levy and Ryan Plewacki of The Honeydogs sat down with HazelFest emcee David Campbell to talk about their latest album, mental health, and recovery from addiction. The Honeydogs were one of several talented acts at this year's HazelFest, our annual celebration of life in Center City, Minn.

Addiction Across America

Watch Part 5 of the "Facing Addiction Across America" docuseries with Ryan Hampton and Garrett Hade. Here, they meet both inmates and key leaders at the Chesterfield (Va.) Correctional Facility. Hear their stories and their song.


Minnesota. The Department of Human Services (DHS) here received a $1.6 million, five-year grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). The Minnesota Department of Health also received an HHS grant of about $900,000 over a three-year period as part of the CDC Prescription Drug Overdose: Data-Driven Prevention Initiative.

  • U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar is proposing the creation of a national registry for opioid prescriptions, and Jeremiah participated with the Senator in a conversation about her bill, the Prescription Drug Monitoring Act, on the Chad Hartman radio show (August 17). Download audio.

Florida. A new law here allows pharmacists to sell Naloxone without a prescription.

Illinois. A new sober and supervised home for college students will open in the Chicago area this year. The home, designed for students with mental health and substance abuse issues, will provide counseling, mindfulness and meditation, community dinners and regular drug testing.  

Maine. In August, the University of Southern Maine will open the Collegiate Recovery Center, with the dual purpose of helping recovering students stay sober, while encouraging people in recovery to enroll in school.

If you have questions or thoughts on the items above or on any other matters, please contact Dean Peterson at 651.213.4568 or If this was forwarded to you and you’d like to subscribe, you can do so here.

For those on Twitter, please follow us at @HBFinstitute for timely updates! And be sure to subscribe to us on Youtube, where we’re always adding new stigma-busting, policy-shaping educational videos.

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Used with permission | © Star Tribune

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