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NAADAC Members Set the Agenda

February 1, 2011
by Christopher Campbell, NAADAC Director of Government Relations
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Advocacy Begins With Individual Members
Christopher Campbell, NAADAC Director of Government Relations
Christopher Campbell, NAADAC Director of Government Relations

At its core, advocacy consists of carrying a personalized message supporting a specific cause or policy change to the people who make or implement those policies. Within NAADAC, the Association for Addiction Professionals, advocacy begins with individual members who share the desire to shape a public policy agenda that meets the demands of the professional workforce and assists other addiction counselors, social workers, nurses, psychologists and other addiction treatment, prevention, intervention and recovery support professionals.

NAADAC is a member driven organization that represents the interests of addiction professionals and those they serve. The Government Relations division of NAADAC helps facilitate communication between NAADAC members and all facets of the federal government regarding behavioral health issues and legislative objectives. Members serve as advocates and educators and policy partners, helping decision-makers understand who we are, what we know and what we do. The Government Relations department works hard to ensure that NAADAC's voice is recognized-not because it is loudest, but because it is well informed.

The NAADAC staff is well trained and qualified to meet with legislative members at the local, state and national level. It also works arduously to develop partnerships and coalitions to promote the issues currently affecting addiction professionals. By highlighting addiction issues, the Government Relations department strives to make these concerns a top priority to policymakers. All of these education efforts revolve around NAADAC's vision, which states, “NAADAC is the premier global organization of addiction-focused professionals who enhance the health and recovery of individuals, families and communities.”

NAADAC is in constant communication with members of Congress, federal agencies and other prevention and treatment organizations, such as the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) and the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP). Through these efforts, the association helps your voice to be heard effectively on Capitol Hill.

NAADAC's Public Policy Goals

Each year NAADAC re-evaluates its focus and legislative goals. NAADAC's Public Policy vision highlights several of the major challenges and issues NAADAC is addressing with lawmakers and how we believe these challenges can be best met based on previous successes and failures.

NAADAC's first mission is to continue educating policymakers and the general public about the need for the valuable work of the addiction professional, challenges facing the clients we serve and the importance of prevention and treatment. NAADAC works to dispel the myths and discrimination surrounding the disease of addiction by promoting the following facts:

  • Alcohol, tobacco, and other drug disorders are America's number one public health problem; they require a serious, consistent and continuous public health response.

  • Prevention and treatment are effective.

  • Substance use disorders are a treatable brain disorder.

  • Patients must receive high quality alcohol and drug services and the public must be protected.

  • Addiction counselors must adhere to strict standards of training, certification and ethics.

  • Every American should have healthcare coverage, which includes access to alcohol and drug services.

In addition, NAADAC members and staff regularly meet with policymakers to educate them on the state of the profession and to gain support for various legislative initiatives. Currently, there are a multitude of addictions or addictions-related issues that are active in Congress. Each issue is in varying stages of the legislative process, but requires the same amount of constant attention and support. The following are some of the priority policy issues that NAADAC is moving forward for our members:

  • Ensuring that both health care reform and insurance parity for substance use disorders are fairly and effectively implemented,

  • Growing and developing the addiction professional workforce in the 21st century, and

  • Increasing federal and state funding levels for addiction treatment.

These issues are extremely important to NAADAC and consume a great deal of time from our dedicated team based in Alexandria, Va. The central mission of your Government Relations department is to promote these issues and get your voice heard on Capitol Hill.

In addition to direct communication with government officials, the NAADAC Government Relations staff is here to assist you in becoming an advocate. You, the stakeholder, are an essential component in shaping America and affecting public policy for all addiction professionals. The following information provides step-by-step guidelines on how to become involved in improving the addiction profession by contacting legislators, overseeing how federal dollars are spent and securing the future of the addiction workforce.