Establishing a Recovery Ecosystem to include multiple sectors and services. Addressing recovery needs and developing recovery communities. Coordinating services to help individuals in recovery navigate needed services. Expanding education skills training opportunities and recovery-friendly workplaces. Sharing effective practices to help communities assess, plan, and develop strategies that promote the recovery ecosystem. These are some of the key themes outlined in a recently released synopsis report from the six that the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) hosted Recovery-to-Work Listening Sessions. At each of the six sessions — held between December, 2018 – April, 2019 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.
Drawing on the Listening Session themes, ARC’s 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 — met in Washington, DC this week to continue developing recommendations to anchor ARC’s strategy to help address the workforce impacts of Appalachia’s substance abuse epidemic. The Council’s final recommendations will be formally presented to the Commission in early September. “ARC’s continued efforts to study and address the substance abuse crisis in our region are well-reflected by this report and by the continued efforts of the SAAC, which can positively impact Appalachian communities,” said ARC Federal Co-Chair Tim Thomas. “I am very pleased with the progress of the Advisory Council, and look forward to reviewing their work alongside the rest of the Commission.”