Unite to Face Addiction: Beyond the Concert

Hazelden Betty Ford Institute for Recovery Advocacy

The Hazelden Betty Ford Institute for Recovery Advocacy was grateful to host and participate in a number of exciting events sandwiched around the historic "Unite to Face Addiction" concert held on Oct. 4 in Washington, DC.

Feel free to jump right to some picture albums, courtesy of DC photographer Victoria Milko. Or read on for an event-by-event recap.

The long weekend started with the Fed Up Rally on Oct. 3, which drew almost 3,000 to the National Mall to call for solutions to the opioid crisis that is killing hundreds of Americans every week. We co-sponsored the event, which is organized annually by the Minnesota-based Steve Rummler Hope Foundation. It featured a number of great speakers, including Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation Chief Medical Officer Marvin D. Seppala, M.D., and Police Chief Leonard Campanello from Gloucester, Mass., among many others. Campanello has gained well-deserved national attention for offering treatment, rather than handcuffs, to people who turn in their drugs at his station.



On the evening of Oct. 3, hundreds also attended a Unite to Face Addiction All-Star Comedy Benefit, "A Tribute to Lost Laughs," featuring hilarious turns by popular comics Bill Burr, Tom Papa, Tig Notaro, Nick DiPaolo, Jesse Joyce, Gary Owens and Mark Lundholm.

The next day, prior to the big Unite to Face Addiction concert, more than 500 people attended a rousing Pre-Concert Pep Rally we hosted with our friends from Minnesota Recovery Connection (MRC). The event featured a number of inspiring speakers who pumped up the standing-room-only crowd for the concert to come. My colleague William Moyers also was recognized for his important and longtime contributions to recovery advocacy. The enthusiastic rally was captured on video. You can watch William's recognition and subsequent speech or view the entire event. More photographs are here.


Recovery 2.0 founder Tommy Rosen, one of the speakers at our pep rally, echoed the thoughts of many in an email to his clients and friends:

"Earlier that day, I spoke at the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation gathering….There are no words to describe the feeling. … WOW! The thought I had was, ‘Well, Tommy, you couldn’t have written this into the script.’”

The morning after the concert—Monday, Oct. 5—the Institute for Recovery Advocacy sponsored an Advocacy Day Breakfast for more than 500 who participated in advocacy efforts on Capitol Hill. The advocates, representing more than 40 states, asked their Members of Congress to cosponsor the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act  (CARA) (S. 524/HR 953), the REDEEM Act (S. 675/HR 1672) and cosign a letter to the Administration regarding enforcement and implementation of the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act (MHPAEA). It marked the largest advocacy presence in the halls of Congress ever on addiction prevention, treatment and recovery issues. 

Nick Motu, vice president of our Institute for Recovery Advocacy, kicked off the huge effort with opening remarks.

Nick also co-wrote an op-ed piece published by The Hill, one of the top political websites in Washington, which previewed our final event of the trip by calling for expanded education of prescribers on opioids and addiction.  Almost 200 people filled a room in the U.S. Capitol Visitor Center on Oct. 6 for that final symposium entitled Preparing Prescribers to Confront the Opioid Crisis. The event, co-hosted by the National Council for Behavioral Health and integrated into its annual Hill Day event, provided a forum for addressing the opioid epidemic through expanded and improved education for doctors and other prescribers.

The U.S. Senate and House Prescription Drug Abuse Caucuses were honorary co-hosts. With Former Congresswoman Mary Bono as moderator, the speakers included White House Office of National Drug Control Policy Director Michael Botticelli; U.S. Sens. Joe Manchin, Shelley Moore-Capito, Kelly Ayotte and Ed Markey; Dr. Mehmet Oz, host of The Dr. Oz Show; actress and advocate Mackenzie Phillips; our Dr. Seppala; Kentucky state Rep. John Tilley and Mayo Clinic’s Jeannie Sperry, PhD. The 90-min event also was captured on video. You can watch edited highlights or the entire event. And, once again, more pictures are here.


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Jeremiah Gardner, Mgr of Public Affairs and AdvocacyJeremiah Gardner, manager of public affairs and advocacy at the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation, is a person in long-term recovery with a master's degree in addiction studies and a background in journalism, public affairs, business and music.

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