Missouri Recovery Network (MRN) members representing treatment providers, allies, and supporters of recovery assembled at the State Capitol on April 30, 2008, Advocacy Day. Advocates met with elected officials in hopes of increasing their knowledge and understanding of substance abuse addiction, and the value of treatment and recovery support services.
MRN advocates sent a clear message to elected officials about the effectiveness of treatment, the need for funding, and the hidden value of recovery support services. For every dollar spent on treatment, society saves ten dollars in medical, social service, unemployment, and criminal justice costs. Tragically, over 3,000 Missourians are currently on waiting lists for treatment.
Tom Coderre, National Field Director of Faces and Voices of Recovery (FAVOR), Washington D.C. and Mike Barry, President of People Advocating Recovery (PAR), Kentucky; opened the day with a recovery-specific advocacy training; a lessons learned presentation and coaching. Information was presented on the Paul Wellstone Mental Health and Addiction Equity Act (HR 1424).
This proposed legislation would improve access to life-saving mental health and addiction recovery services by limiting the discriminatory barriers that have prevented many people from receiving the mental health services they deserve. Step Up and Speak Out to end discriminatory practices of insurance companies that deny benefits for the disease of addiction that they provide for other general illnesses, such as diabetes.
Seventeen members of the Missouri General Assembly were visited by MRN’s Advocacy Day participants. Comments received included “This was a great way to get individuals introduced to advocacy efforts”, and “This was the first time I did anything like this and it sparked a new found interest.”
MRN encourages you to initiate contact with your elected officials; they are elected to serve you. Contact your local district offices and take advantage of opportunities to educate officials at home, in their communities. Substance abuse prevention, treatment and recovery support services need legislative champions. Develop your relationship with them at home and increase their awareness and knowledge of issues important to you, become their expert. The more work you do at home, the more prepared your legislator is when session begins. Advocacy is not a one day event; it needs to take place year round!
For assistance in contacting your elected official call MRN at 877-669-2280 or click here to look them up. You hold the power to change public attitudes and policies! Step Up and Speak Out, become an advocate for recovery!