Wednesday, September 5, 2018 - 03:30 pm

FARGO, N.D. – Gov. Doug Burgum and First Lady Kathryn Helgaas Burgum today hosted the second Recovery Reinvented, a daylong event at the Fargo Civic Center focused on ways to reinvent recovery through eliminating the stigma of addiction, educating on the brain science of addiction and empowering recovery support in communities.

They were joined by national and state addiction recovery experts and more than 1,200 people attending in person or online from throughout the state, including people in recovery and their families, health care providers and administrators, business and community leaders, faith-based organizations, Native American community leaders and educators.

“Addiction is having a massive impact on families, communities and businesses in North Dakota and across our country,” Gov. Burgum said, noting overdose deaths in North Dakota increased from 20 deaths in 2013 to 77 deaths in 2016. “North Dakota is a small state full of committed, caring people, and we can be a national leader in terms of how we reinvent recovery. Our focus today is turning dialogue into action. We’re building on the foundation from last year’s Recovery Reinvented, providing the knowledge, skills and tools for everyone to be partners in accelerating the recovery movement in communities across North Dakota.”

The governor and first lady emphasized the importance of grassroots, community-based approaches to combatting the disease of addiction across the state.

“Addiction needs to be embraced like any other chronic, progressively fatal illness or disease before real changes can be made in our communities and before the shame and stigma can be eliminated,” Helgaas Burgum said in her address, describing her own struggle with alcohol addiction and 16 years of recovery. “Now is the time to come together to help those suffering with the disease of addiction. Now is the time for every one of us to take action in our own lives, in our work and in our communities. There is no shame in addiction, and there is so much hope and possibility in recovery.”

In an effort to promote grassroots advocacy across the state, the Washington, D.C.-based Addiction Policy Forum announced a new state chapter to be launched in North Dakota. The chapter will focus on the implementation of the Addiction Policy Forum’s eight strategic focus areas to ensure long-term progress against substance use at the national, state and local levels. Jessica Hulsey Nickel, President & CEO of the Addiction Policy Forum, shared that Paul Stroklund of Minot will serve as the state chairman for the chapter. Stroklund, who serves on the Minot Mayor’s Committee on Addiction and the North Dakota Behavioral Health Planning Council, is a recovery advocate and parent of a child impacted by the disease of addiction.

Several other initiatives also were announced during the event, including:

  • The results of a statewide stigma survey were shared detailing baseline measures of stigma, including perceptions of addiction as a disease, support for recovery services in communities and the percentage of North Dakota citizens impacted by addiction. Results will be shared at
  • Recovree was announced as the winner of the $50,000 Innovate Recovery Competition, among seven other finalists who presented to a diverse panel of judges. The competition was previously announced at last year’s Recovery Reinvented to generate the most innovative solution to impact recovery in North Dakota. Recovree produces peer support specialist software designed to create more meaningful conversations, intervention opportunities, efficiencies and data to ultimately improve recovery outcomes.
  • North Dakota Peer Support Day recognizes the importance of peer support services in North Dakota and supports the hard work, dedication and passion of peer support specialists. Care coordinators, peer support specialists and recovery advocates will be invited to the Capitol later this fall for an opportunity to connect in shared learning and experiences.
  • Day for Prevention 2019 will hold its second event to happen during the summer. More details to be announced at
  • Free Through Recovery services will be expanded upstream to individuals not under the care and custody of the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. Cass County Jail will be the first area to pilot Free Through Recovery for individuals needing behavioral health services and support.
  • North Dakota Recovery Day at the Capitol will allow recovery advocates, people in recovery and their families, and lawmakers an opportunity to focus on advocacy, uplift and celebrate everyone on the path to recovery and provide encouragement for those seeking it​​.
  • The Youth Engagement Initiative will partner with existing resources to further the message of Recovery Reinvented, by engaging youth in solutions to eliminate stigma, normalize the conversations around addiction and empower their peers and community members to find recovery. Schools, youth commissions and organizations will be encouraged to provide input for how students can assess needs and gaps, promote advocacy and eliminate the stigma of addiction. More information will be coming soon to
  • A faith-based peer support network will be established through a partnership between Lutheran Social Services and the North Dakota Department of Human Services. The network will partner with people in North Dakota faith-based communities to build a peer support network that will create a readily available resource for men, women and children who are in recovery from addiction and mental illness, and who may also be working to re-integrate into their home communities after incarceration or justice system involvement of some kind.
  • Naloxone, a medication designed to rapidly reverse opioid overdose in emergency situations, was once again provided to attendees who received training in naloxone administration. Two single-dose kits of naloxone were available for free to interested participants at the event.

Several updates were provided from last year’s Recovery Reinvented, including Peer Support Training, Free Through Recovery, Day for Prevention, opioid prevention and treatment funding for tribes, White Bison and Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation partnership, the governor’s naloxone executive order and the Dream Again campaign.

"People from across the state have stepped forward to become part of reinventing recovery in North Dakota,” said Pamela Sagness, Behavioral Health Division director at the North Dakota Department of Human Services. “We’ve made substantial progress, and we’re excited to build upon that progress with these exciting new initiatives and successful existing programs."

Recognition was also given to a number of impactful community members for their existing efforts to implement effective and innovative solutions for the disease of addiction. Award recipients were:

  • Jan Eliassen, Executive Director, Gladys Ray Shelter, for her work in opening North Dakota’s first Harm Reduction Division, which includes the Gladys Ray Shelter and Veterans Drop-in Center, Mobile Outreach Program, Downtown Homeless Outreach, Withdrawal Management Unit, Good Neighbor Project/Harm Reduction Center syringe services program and Opioid Response/Substance Abuse Prevention programs.
  • Free Through Recovery program, Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation and Department of Human Services, for implementing a collaborative statewide program that has garnered 600 participants, with an average 71 percent of participants meeting three of four outcomes each month.
  • Andy Frobig, Jail Administrator, Cass County Sheriff’s Office, for creating a Community Supervision Unit to provide an alternative to physical incarceration and for changing jail processes to reduce criminal charges resulting from intoxication.
  • Turtle Mountain Youth Council, 11 members, for developing a strategic plan to impact Native youth in the areas of economic development, recreational activities, health and wellness and leadership.
  • Tom McDougall, CEO, High Points Network, for efforts to hire and support people with felonies re-entering their communities from the criminal justice system.
  • Unnamed families, recognizing all families who have struggled with the disease of addiction and provided unconditional support to those pursuing recovery.

Additional speakers at today’s event included:

  • Laurie Dhue, certified recovery specialist, founder, Dhue Together
  • Dr. David Mee-Lee, chief editor, The ASAM Criteria
  • Dr. Donald Warne, associate dean for diversity, equity and inclusion, and director of the Indians into Medicine program, University of North Dakota
  • Adam Martin, found and executive director, F5 Project
  • Jim Roers, CEO, Roers
  • Stephanie Winterquist, human resources manager, O’Day Equipment

More information about statewide initiatives and ongoing efforts will be available at or