Watch: The President’s Commission Team on Combatting Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis Hold their First Meeting

The President’s Commission Team, lead by Governor Chris Christie, met on Friday June 16, 2017 to discuss the growing epidemic of Drug Addiction in the US.  It is unfortunate that addiction is still incredibly misunderstood in our country and is not given the attention that it deserves.  Patrick Kennedy, a member of this team said, “we shouldn’t take mental health and addiction and treat it separately,” which identifies a major obstacle that many face when trying to overcome their addiction.  Kennedy understands that, “we do not treat brain illnesses like we do any other set of physical illnesses,” and hopefully this commission will change the way that mental illness and addiction are viewed in the United States.

The team hopes to make evidence-based, long-term addiction treatments available to everybody in need and recognize the connection between mental illness and addiction.  Watch this team as they work together to improve our country’s mental health and drug addiction treatments.

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(Former) Surgeon General’s Report- 2016

Facing Addiction in America

The Former Surgeon General’s Report on Alcohol, Drugs, and Health.

This report aims to bring to light the effects of alcohol and drugs on our bodies and our society.  In America, in 2015, 66.7 million people reported binge drinking and 27.1 million people were current drug users (Chapter 1, Pg.1).  Life expectancy has gone down in the United States in large part due to substance abuse and addiction.

The report outlines the key areas needed in the approach to address substance abuse including:

  1. Enhanced public education to improve awareness about substance use problems and demand for more effective policies and practices to address them.

  2. Widespread implementation of evidence-based prevention policies and programs to prevent substance misuse and related harms

  3. Improved access to evidence-based treatment services, integrated with mainstream health care, for those at risk or affected by substance use disorders

  4. Recovery support services (RSS) to assist individuals in maintaining remission and preventing relapse

  5. Research-informed public policies and financing strategies to ensure that substance misuse and use disorder services are accessible compassionate, efficient, and sustainable. (Chapter I, Pg. 3)

Addiction has become a major health crisis in the United States, this report aims to educate and help all those who are or may become addicted.

Link to report 


U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Office of the Surgeon General, Facing Addiction in America: The Surgeon General’s Report on Alcohol, Drugs, and Health. Washington, DC: HHS, November 2016.




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Recovery to Practice is pleased to introduce the on-demand continuing medical education (CME) series

Clinical Decision Support for Prescribers Treating Individuals with Co-occurring Disorders

This two-course series offers information and resources for physicians, clinicians, and other practitioners serving individuals with serious mental illness and co-occurring substance use disorder.

In this scenario-based series, participants meet “Nick,” a young father with many strengths and who is challenged by both substance use and mental illness. The course explores the question: How do I approach Nick and help him meet his needs in ways that are both clinically sound and recovery-focused?

The faculty are national experts in recovery, including psychiatrists, a psychologist, a social worker, a nurse, and peers. They offer tools, tips, and strategies for addressing Nick’s needs, and those of other individuals facing similar challenges.

Watch one or both courses at your convenience! Sign Up Here!

Each course is approved for 1.5 AAFP (American Academy of Family Physicians) prescribed credits.

Course Objectives

After viewing, learners will be able to

  1. Summarize a recovery-oriented approach to the treatment of individuals with co-occurring mental and substance use disorders.
  2. Describe the process of recovery-oriented, strength-based engagement, assessment, and intervention, including psychopharmacology treatment, for individuals with co-occurring mental and substance use disorders.
  3. Describe non-medication recovery and support approaches for individuals with co-occurring mental health and substance use conditions.

Course Faculty

Curley Bonds, M.D.
Medical Director, Didi Hirsch Mental Health Services


Wayne Centrone, N.M.D., M.P.H
Senior Health Advisor, Center for Social Innovation
Executive Director of Health Bridges International


Chris Gordon, M.D.
Medical Director and Senior Vice President for Clinical Services, Advocates, Inc.
Associate Professor of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School


Jackie Pettis, M.S.N, R.N.
Wellness and Recovery Manager, ValueOptions Maryland, Inc.


Ken Minkoff, M.D.
Senior System Consultant, ZiaPartners, Inc.
Clinical Assistant Professor of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School


Kim Mueser, Ph.D.
Executive Director, Center for Psychiatric Rehabilitation, Boston University


 Melody Riefer, M.S.W.
Senior Program Manager, Advocates for Human Potential


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New Resource from CMCS and SAMHSA

Hello!  We’ve added a new resource for Behavioral Health Services for youth with substance use issues.  Please take a look!

Joint CMCS And SAMHSA Informational Bulletin

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Change Agent Connection Facebook Group

Log into Facebook to start sharing and connecting with your friends, family, and people you know.

Source: Change Agent Connection

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Nebraska: Advancing Progress in the Entire State System

We were very excited to spend the week of March 2 in Nebraska, providing consultation, training and technical assistance in each of the regions. Ken visited Region 1 in Scottsbluff, in the far western part of the state, Region 2 in North Platte, and Region 4 in Norfolk, while Chris was in Omaha in Region 6, in Region 3 in Grand Island, and in Region 5 in Lincoln. Ken spent a half-day at the Lincoln Regional Center (the state facility), and also met with the Division of Behavioral Health leadership.

During these visits, we’ve been helping to advance progress toward the development of co-occurring capability across the entire state system in Nebraska. Each of the regional visits illustrated the extent to which the different regions were making progress.

Region 1 has done a wonderful job starting to collect data on the prevalence of co-occurring capability. We’re very excited about the opportunity to use a program checklist as a way of tracking their progress, and all the providers sat together talking about things they were learning and areas of progress. In Region 2, in addition to working internally with their own progress, Ken met with their Child Welfare Team to talk about co-occurring principles, as well as with a group of about 40 people representing criminal justice, judges, district attorneys, public defenders, and their Specialty Drug Court. In Region 4, Dr. Minkoff provided a training for new staff that were coming on board into the co-occurring initiative, and also had a chance to welcome the Norfolk Regional Center, another one of the state facilities, that specializes in sex offender treatment, into the process. The Lincoln Regional Center medical director has decided to go full bore into implementing co-occurring capability and wants to use this as part of the larger culture shift that they’re trying to accomplish. This is a great opportunity to further build the partnership between the state facility and the regions. The state leadership folks are looking at how to embed support for the transformation—quality improvement and co-occurring capability—into contract language and service definitions and regulations, because they’re in the two-year cycle of regulatory review.

Chris provided direct training on how to develop procedures, and apply those policies and procedures to challenging cases. Folks are really very excited to be moving this to the next level of detail.

We’re looking forward to going back in June, when we are going to have a statewide change agent day and further meetings to advance the process through the state of Nebraska.

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Santa Barbara County: Integrated Structures and Approaches

On February 25-26, our system transformation consultation with Santa Barbara County resumed after a six-month hiatus, and we were delighted to be working with their new Behavioral Health Director, Alice Gleghorn, who comes to Santa Barbara from San Francisco. (We worked with Alice when she was basically in charge of the CCISC project in San Francisco nearly 10 years ago!) During this visit we worked with the change agents and visited several programs; we stimulated the development of some regional partnering meetings between county and CBOs in the Santa Maria North County Region and in Lompoc. We met with the Steering Committee, reconnected with various action teams and did some work helping to organize and develop an integrated management structure and an integrated workgroup approach to access. We’re very delighted to be back connected with Santa Barbara County, and look forward to further visits over the next several months to continue the process.

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EMQ Families First: Value-driven Practice, Value-driven Change

On February 24, we were delighted to have the opportunity expand our work with EMQ Families First, which is working on organization-wide co-occurring capability. We began that work in 2014 in the Bay Region, which is primarily based in Santa Clara County, developing implementation plans with a team of change agents across all the programs using the COMPASS™. The process has gone so well that they are eagerly expanding into the Central Region, which is primarily based in Fresno. On February 24, we did a launch in Fresno, providing consultation to their change agent team and management team, and training to over 60 staff about the basics of CCISC and co-occurring capability development.

We’re looking forward to further work with both regions, continuing to advance this process throughout the organization. We’re very impressed with EMQFF’s ability, as a large provider, to organize value-driven practice and value-drive change organization-wide. It’s one of the strongest organizations that we’ve worked with in that regard, and it makes their ability to do this work much more successful for them.

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Identifying Strengths at Creative Health Services, Pottstown, PA

We are really excited to be continuing our consultation project with Creative Health Services in Pottstown, PA. This project, which began in November and will be completed in April, is funded by the Pottstown Area Health and Wellness Foundation. Our work there is to identify the strengths of Creative Health Services and help them to identify the degree to which they are meeting criteria to be a behavioral health center of excellence, as well as areas of potential improvement where they can grow and develop in line with their values to better serve their clients and their community. We (Ken and Chris) are very excited to partner on this consultation with Dotti Farr, from Farr Consulting. Dotti is based in Pennsylvania and is very familiar with the Pennsylvania landscape–she worked on CCISC implementation activities in Bucks County for years.

During our recent visit, we spent time working with Creative on using the ILSA™ as a guide for helping them to improve their assessment process. We also met with Community Health and Dental Clinic in Pottstown, which is Creative’s FQHC partner, about improving their overall capacity to collaborate around primary health/behavioral health integration, and visited with the psychiatric inpatient unit from Pottstown Memorial Hospital, who is very interested in partnering with Creative around improving co-occurring mental health and substance capability across the community.

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Change Agent Speaks About Self Care


 Keris Myrick, MS, MBA, PhDc, is President and CEO of Project Return Peer Support Network. She has over 20 years experience in higher education administration and mental health program and organizational consultation and administration. Keris’ work on training components for peer-run programs includes an emphasis on peer advocates and facilitators. She is a national trainer and presenter for the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) education programs. Keris has been a board member for NAMI-California and is currently the First Vice President for the NAMI National Board. She serves as a systems leadership team representative in the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health planning processes. She was a SAMHSA CMHS 2009 World Federation for Mental Health Congress scholarship recipient, and a recent invited guest to the White House to attend President Obamaís event commemorating the 20th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Keris Myrick was featured in the New York Times in October 2011. Keris was at the UnConvention the day the article came out. We were all proud to have her there on this day. See the links below for Keris’ beautiful message.
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