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Policy advocate assisting states with comprehensive responses

July 10, 2018
by Gary A. Enos, Contributing Editor
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The national nonprofit Addiction Policy Forum is arming states and localities with information that can serve as a catalyst for policy change to improve response to addiction-related challenges.

The organization announced last week that it has completed its sixth Blueprint document as a tool to describe which initiatives are working well in communities and what changes may be needed. With the release of the Blueprint for Indiana: Implementing a Comprehensive Response to Addiction, the Addiction Policy Forum has now developed Blueprints for four states (Indiana, Maryland, Minnesota and New Hampshire) and two counties (Pickaway and Warren counties in Ohio).

As with the previous Blueprints, the Indiana document addresses the need for a comprehensive response to addiction that includes action in these areas:

  • Advocating and educating;

  • Helping families in crisis;

  • Preventing addiction;

  • Expanding treatment access and integration into healthcare;

  • Expanding recovery support;

  • Protecting children impacted by parental substance use disorder; and

  • Reframing the criminal justice system.

“It's critical that our responses take a holistic approach that includes everything from prevention, treatment and recovery to overdose reversal, child welfare and criminal justice,” Addiction Policy Forum executive vice president of state affairs Mark L. O'Brien said in a news release announcing the completion of the Blueprint for Indiana.

Origin of concept

O'Brien tells Behavioral Healthcare Executive that the Addiction Policy Forum launched its Blueprints project last fall because it realized that strategies to address addiction needed to be tailored to local jurisdictions' challenges and capacity. The first Blueprint was released in January.

“For some Blueprints, we have been invited in by leaders in government or community coalitions,” says O'Brien. “For others, we have been asked to complete a Blueprint by our network of families in order to help them develop an advocacy agenda for positive change in their community.”

Although the initiative is in its early stages, O'Brien says Pickaway County already has achieved significant results in implementing nearly a dozen recommendations from the county's Blueprint, thanks to the efforts of local partners that include a community coalition and a local health system.