GRAND FORKS, N.D. – Gov. Doug Burgum and First Lady Kathryn Burgum today hosted the sixth Recovery Reinvented, a daylong in-person and online event focused on reinventing recovery through eliminating the stigma of the disease of addiction.
They were joined by national and state addiction recovery experts and more than 700 in-person attendees at the Alerus Center in Grand Forks as well as over 900 online viewers who spanned the state and nation, with some international audience members in Indonesia, Portugal and South Africa.
“Working together – all of us, all of you, the State of North Dakota, all of our partners, communities, faith-based organizations, providers, everyone coming together – the positive momentum we have in North Dakota is spreading across the country in terms of how we’re approaching the powerful, pervasive disease of addiction,” Gov. Burgum said in his opening remarks. “We believe that behavioral health, mental health, the disease of addiction – it’s all health, and it should be treated as such by focusing on the foundations of well-being, the physical health, the behavioral health and the economic health, and we can continue to grow as a strong and healthy state.”
The governor and first lady emphasized the importance of turning “Advocacy into Action” through sharing hopeful stories of finding recovery from addiction, empowering individuals to be recovery advocates by enacting local change, and recognizing local organizations and individuals who actively work to end stigma and empower recovery in their own communities. They also highlighted the state’s progress in addressing the disease of addiction over the past six years, including the training of nearly 800 peer support specialists and the success of the Free Through Recovery program.
“Storytelling helps eliminate the stigma of addiction. It helps people understand that addiction can happen to anyone and that people do recover, and they look just like all of you and like me,” First Lady Burgum, who has been in recovery for more than 20 years, said in a powerful first-person account of her own alcohol addiction. “Talk about it, because by doing so you’ll be normalizing the conversation around this disease and you’ll be helping to eliminate the stigma, which will encourage more people to reach out for help. And all of you will be helping to save lives, families and communities.“
The event was highlighted by a number of North Dakota community members and organizations who were recognized for their efforts to implement innovative solutions to address the disease of addiction. Recovery Champion award recipients were:
- Bismarck Opioid Overdose Department of Justice Grant Project, featuring a partnership between Heartview Foundation, the Bismarck Police Department, Sanford and CHI St. Alexius emergency rooms, and Ministry on the Margins for bridging the gap between overdose hospital visits and access to chemical dependency treatment, increasing access to Medication Assisted Treatment and increasing access and availability of Narcan in the community.
- Jenny Olson, for her entrepreneurial spirit in establishing the foundation of the Office of Recovery Reinvented as its first managing director, guiding the office through four Recovery Reinvented events, the Innovate Recovery Competition, Youth Ending Stigma Challenge, and greater collaboration with businesses to support recovery friendly workplaces.
- Cindy McMillan, for her leadership as a middle school and high school substance abuse counselor in the Grand Forks Public Schools, working tirelessly on behalf of students and their families, meeting them for alcohol and drug evaluations and one-on-one counseling.
- Kristy Johnson, for sharing her lived experience to support the state of North Dakota’s Behavioral Health Division team through the coordination of peer support specialists and supporting the “Call Kay” program, which offers support to pregnant mothers struggling with substance use that need a kind and judgment-free person to talk to.
The keynote speakers at today’s event included:
- Carrie Steinseifer-Bates, three-time Olympic gold medalist and outreach manager at the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation.
- Philip Rutherford, chief operating officer, Faces & Voices of Recovery.
- Teliea Baker, director, The Door Recovery Lodge.
- Dr. Bruce Perry, trauma expert and author of “What Happened to You?: Conversations on Trauma, Resilience, and Healing.”