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National groups: The election-year discussion of addiction needs a family focus

February 18, 2016
by Gary A. Enos, Editor
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While the presidential campaign has featured an unprecedented level of discussion about addiction, two national advocacy organizations would like to see more consideration of families in the policy conversation.

Faces & Voices of Recovery and the National Association for Children of Alcoholics (NACoA) last month issued a joint policy paper asking that the candidates for president support not only treatment initiatives, but also front-end prevention and ongoing recovery support services that assist children and families.

The paper states, “We believe that, while we must address current drug addiction issues and provide, in the present, the treatment and recovery support needed by those with this disease, the plague of addiction will continue to the next generation if we do not also provide the recovery support programs needed to save the children from the adverse impact of a loved one's disease.”

NACoA president and CEO Sis Wenger says the partnering organizations will be contacting each of the presidential candidates' offices next week, and also will be working with affiliates in an attempt to make these issues a part of state and local election campaigns as well.

The policy paper also focuses a great deal on criminal justice reform, directly asking candidates whether they support drug court programs and other treatment-focused alternatives to incarceration and old-school “war on drugs” approaches. Part of one of five questions to candidates asks, “Do you agree with providing affordable treatment and recovery support as an alternative to incarceration for nonviolent offenders and recovery support for their family members where possible, including their children?”

The joint statement also asks candidates to back funding of prevention and early intervention services in a variety of settings, including reinstituting student assistance programs in schools “to assist students to succeed in spite of adverse situations impacting their lives.”

Wenger adds that student assistance programs were “inexpensive to run and the leading strategy for intervening early with students on a wide variety of problems, including the personal fight each day to keep silent about the family's chaos due to parental drinking or drug use.” This week marks National Children of Alcoholics Awareness Week.

The paper makes the case for families to be more involved in treatment and recovery decisions, and to fulfill their vast potential to facilitate long-term recovery in their loved one. “There is no more powerful influence,” the paper states.

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