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Recovery community energized in election season

October 29, 2008
by Gary A. Enos, Editor
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Perhaps building on the momentum of national victories in passage of parity legislation and the Second Chance Act, members of the addiction recovery community have been able to maintain a strong presence in an historic election campaign season.

Tom Coderre, national field director for Faces and Voices of Recovery, characterizes the nonpartisan Recovery Voices Count! effort as “incredibly successful,” with about two dozen town hall meeting events having taken place around the country in its voter education phase. In the days leading up to Nov. 4, recovery groups have moved into the voter participation phase, trying to make sure that the recovery community makes its voice heard at the polls.

“This is helping to take a strong advocacy base to the next level,” says Coderre, a former Rhode Island state legislator. “These groups tell their members they don’t care who they vote for—they just provide information and education.”

A 14-page voter guide to the general election issued by Ohio Citizen Advocates for Chemical Dependency Prevention and Treatment illustrates how far the recovery community has come in encouraging civic activity. Complete with voting site and districting information, a rundown of county tax levies on this year’s ballot, and comments from candidates who responded to a questionnaire from the recovery community, the guide rivals anything compiled by local media or government officials.

Recovery Voices Count! has sought to have candidates across the country sign a four-point pledge committing to implementing recovery-friendly policies and supporting an investment in prevention, treatment, and research. The Ohio guide lists all state legislative and congressional candidates who signed the pledge, and also includes some written comments submitted by candidates.

These have added a compelling dynamic to the dialogue. For example, Ohio House of Representatives candidate Marian Harris, who did not sign the pledge, wrote, “While I wholeheartedly agree with the points in your candidate pledge, I am reluctant to sign a pledge that I might not be able to keep. We are facing rough economic times, as you well know. Putting together a budget that will meet all the human needs in this state will be truly challenging.”