Washington, D.C., July 15, 2019—Today, the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) released a synopsis report of the Recovery-to-Work Listening Session Series hosted by the Commission December 2018–April 2019. At each of the six sessions—held in Big Stone Gap, Virginia; Wilkesboro, North Carolina; Muscle Shoals, Alabama; Pineville, Kentucky; Portsmouth, Ohio; and Beckley, West Virginia—ARC leadership discussed substance abuse related workforce issues with representatives from local and state government, treatment and recovery service providers, workforce development entities, employers, law enforcement, and individuals currently in recovery. Today’s report summarizes the outcome of these discussions, which identified five common themes that ARC should consider when addressing the economic issues stemming from substance abuse.
- Establishing a Recovery Ecosystem includes multiple sectors and services such as health, mental health, social work, criminal justice, housing, transportation, education and employment services;
- Addressing recovery needs and developing recovery communities are important to the support of people in recovery;
- Coordinating services will help individuals in recovery navigate needed services;
- Expanding education and skills training opportunities, and encouraging recovery friendly workplaces are important for those in recovery to obtain employment;
- Sharing effective practices will help communities assess, plan and develop strategies that promote the recovery ecosystem.
“Solutions to the substance abuse crisis in our Region and our country as a whole are not going to come from Washington D.C., but from the collective wisdom of those fighting this epidemic on the ground, from local policymakers and treatment providers, to employers and those in recovery,” said ARC Federal Co-Chair Tim Thomas. “Making this report on our findings from our communities public is a part of a transparent process, and an opportunity to engage the American people to address this crisis. I hope it enhances the conversation around this critical issue.”
Earlier this year, ARC established 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 representing each of the Region’s 13 states. The Council’s goal is to draw on the themes identified from the Listening Sessions to develop recommendations to anchor ARC’s strategy to help address the workforce impacts of Appalachia’s substance abuse epidemic. As part of its work plan, the Council will be meeting again July 16–17, 2019, in Washington, D.C. The Council’s final recommendations will be formally presented to the Commission in early September.
Additional information about ARC’s current portfolio of work in regards to the Region’s substance abuse crisis is available at www.arc.gov/substanceabuse.
About the Appalachian Regional Commission
The Appalachian Regional Commission (www.arc.gov) is an economic development agency of the federal government and 13 state governments focusing on 420 counties across the Appalachian Region. ARC’s 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.