This week, the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) formally accepted a final Report of Recommendations developed by the Substance Abuse Advisory Council (SAAC) outlining proposed steps for developing a robust recovery ecosystem in Appalachia. Among the recommended strategies for action include developing community playbooks, employers toolkits, model workforce training programs, and community navigation programs. Many of the recommendations’ key themes were drawn from six Recovery-to-Work Listening Sessions hosted by ARC, coupled with expertise from the SAAC, a 24-member volunteer group of leaders from recovery services, health, economic development, private industry, education, state government, law enforcement, and other sectors representing each of the Region’s 13 states. ARC seated the SAAC earlier this year with the charge to develop concrete guiding recommendations to ARC for addressing the workforce impacts of Appalachia’s substance abuse epidemic.
“This report, the result of excellent work by the ARC Substance Abuse Advisory Council, is informed and inspired by the people of the Appalachian Region, who have been especially impacted by the substance abuse epidemic in our country,” said ARC Federal Co-Chairman Tim Thomas. “I am proud not only of the innovative and necessary recommendations they have produced, but of the transparent and participatory process by which they reached their conclusions. Their effort proves that effective leadership begins at the community level. I accept their recommendations, thank the Commission for doing the same, and will seek to begin addressing them with our state partners in future ARC programs.”