ARC Announces Substance Abuse Advisory Council

May 2019

Multi-disciplinary Group to Develop Recommendations for Building a Recovery Ecosystem in Appalachia

Contact: Wendy Wasserman,; 202.884.7771

Washington, D.C., May, 13, 2019óToday, the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) announced the formation of the Substance Abuse Advisory Council (SAAC), a 24-member volunteer advisory group of leaders from law enforcement, recovery services, health, economic development, private industry, education, state government and other sectors. The SAAC will develop recommendations for ARC to consider as part of a strategic plan to build and strengthen a recovery ecosystems in Appalachian communities by drawing on their own experiences, as well as community insight gathered during ARCís six recent Regional Recovery-to-Work Listening Sessions.

According to Opioids in Appalachia: The Role of Counties in Reversing a Regional Epidemic, a new report by the National Association of Counties (NaCO) and ARC, the 2017 death rate for opioid overdoses in Appalachian counties was an astounding 72 percent higher than non-Appalachian counties.

ďIn addition to the tragic toll of lives lost, substance abuse is increasingly becoming an economic and workforce issue in our Region," said ARC Federal Co-Chair Tim Thomas. ďI appreciate the willingness of these knowledgeable and experienced leaders from throughout the Region who have come together to help ARC develop strategies to support Appalachia communities. By focusing on the recovery ecosystem, which supports those in long-term recovery as they move back to the workforce, the Substance Abuse Advisory Council will be addressing an important piece of the overarching effort to combat substance use disorder in our Region.Ē

Members of ARCís Substance Abuse Advisory Council were selected in partnership with the Governorís office in each of their respective states, and include:

The SAAC will hold its first working meeting May 15-16, 2019 in Knoxville, Tennessee. Additional information about the Substance Abuse Advisory Council, as well as ARCís current portfolio of work on this issue, is available at

About the Appalachian Regional Commission
The Appalachian Regional Commission ( is an economic development agency of the federal government and 13 state governments focusing on 420 counties across the Appalachian Region. ARCís mission is to innovate, partner, and invest to build community capacity and strengthen economic growth in Appalachia to help the Region achieve socioeconomic parity with the nation.