Thursday, October 5, 2023 - 02:26 pm

MINOT, N.D. – Gov. Doug Burgum and First Lady Kathryn Burgum today hosted the seventh annual Recovery Reinvented at Minot State University, highlighting the state’s progress on addressing the shame and stigma of the disease of addiction and championing the benefits of recovery not only for individuals with addiction but also those around them.

“Recovery is a gift. It’s a gift that has lasting impact and acts as a force multiplier for people who are surrounded by a person who finds recovery,” the governor said, citing estimates that 1 in 5 children are living in a household with a family member who is dealing with the disease of addiction. “Substance abuse disorders, they don’t just affect the individual struggling with addiction, but they’ve got significant impact on family members, loved ones, friends, coworkers. When a person with addiction seeks and maintains recovery, it can lead to amazing, incredible things and positive outcomes.”

“This powerful movement of Recovery Reinvented has become what it has because someone was willing to take that courageous first step,” the governor added, referring to the first lady, who made recovery and eliminating the shame and stigma of addiction her platform issue.

The first lady, in recovery for over 21 years, stressed the importance of storytelling in ending the stigma of addiction.

“Talking about the disease of addiction will reduce the stigma because stigma is a barrier that prevents people from reaching out for help and connecting to lifesaving resources and services,” she said, sharing her personal story of alcohol addiction and recovery. “We recognize that this change doesn’t happen in a day, but events like this can act as a catalyst for people to become energized to take ideas and bring them back into their own communities.“

More than 950 people registered to attend the event in person Ann Nicole Nelson Hall on the Minot State campus. Approximately 1,000 registered for online participation.

The governor highlighted several state programs and initiatives making an impact on addiction and recovery in North Dakota:

  • The Department of Health and Human Services worked closely with the state Legislature and education partners to increase behavioral health funding for schools. The funding increased threefold and will allow schools to enhance behavioral health services and supports – including purchasing equipment to support telehealth or supporting transportation to behavioral health services and supports.
  • Health and Human Services was recently awarded two federal grants to address youth behavioral health. These grants will provide over $18 million over the next four years to support building and expanding services for youth and expanding behavioral health integration into primary care.
  • Suicide prevention remains a top priority in the state, as 182 North Dakotans died by suicide last year. A bill approved earlier this year created a suicide fatality review panel, which will identify opportunities to intervene prior to a suicide by learning from past experiences. This information will help build programs and strategies that focus on prevention.
  • The budget invests $12.5 million for the design of a new State Hospital to be shovel-ready by the 2025 legislative session, as well as grants for 10-bed inpatient behavioral health services in Dickinson and Williston and $131.2 million for design and construction of a new women’s correctional center in Mandan to replace the existing Dakota Women’s Correctional Rehab Center.
  • The budget also includes $8 million for projects funded with opioid settlement funds, at least 20% of which will address opioid abuse prevention. The Legislature codified the Opioid Settlement Advisory Committee that the governor created by executive order in January to assist in regional efforts to combat opioid abuse. As a result of settlement agreements with opioid manufacturers, North Dakota may receive up to $62 million over the next 18 years.

Pamela Sagness, director of the Behavioral Health Division at DHHS, also noted the state’s growth in addiction and recovery services since 2016, including more than 900 trained peer support specialists; 6,660 individuals who have accessed the state’s Substance Use Disorder Voucher program; and over 550 people served through the Recovery Housing Assistance Program created in May 2022, with 12 providers and 30 recovery homes across the state.

Recovery Reinvented is an event dedicated to eliminating the shame and stigma of the disease of addiction. It features state and national addiction and recovery experts who focus on reinventing recovery through the sharing of stories, creating recovery-friendly cultures in the workplace and community, and eliminating the stigma surrounding the disease of addiction.

This year’s event marked the first time Recovery Reinvented has been held in Minot.

Keynote speakers included:

  • Dr. Lipi Roy, an internal medicine physician and founder of SITA MED, an addiction/health speaking company.
  • Dr. Stephen Loyd, chief medical officer for Cedar Recovery in Tennessee and the current chair of the Tennessee Opioid Abatement Council.
  • Scott Davis, who served as executive director of the North Dakota Indian Affairs Commission from 2009 to 2021 and is 17 years sober.