The Washington Post recently hosted Coffee@WaPo: Addiction in America to bring together a diverse group of professionals to discuss the current direction the nation is taking in facing the challenges of addiction. The event included two robust panels: Breaking the Cycle of Addiction and On the Front Lines of Addiction. Deborah S. Taylor, Senior Vice President and Executive Director of Phoenix House Mid-Atlantic, participated in the first panel, representing the treatment component of “breaking the cycle of addiction.” When asked how addiction has changed today, Taylor explained that the physiological response to the increased potency of substances appears to be presenting more severe withdrawal symptoms. “It is a different situation and is creating tremendous challenges to the treatment community,” she said. Taylor explained that supportive funding is essential to allow individuals to remain in treatment for longer periods of time in order to increase the chances of long-term and maintained recovery.
The discussions of the event shed light on innovative programs across the nation that are making efforts to help those affected by substance use. One organization, Shatterproof, was represented by their Founder and Chief Executive, Gary Mendell. Sharing the stage with Taylor, Mendell shared, “I realized that for every major disease, there is one well-funded national organization attacking that disease: the American Heart Association, the American Cancer Society. There is nothing for addiction. So that’s the vision for this organization.”
Other participants in the event included: Dr. Anne Schuchat, Principal Deputy Director, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; Anne McDonald Pritchett, Vice President of Policy and Research, PhRMA; Jason Snyder, Policy and Communications Director, Pennsylvania Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs; Mayor Svante Myrick, Ithaca, NY; John Rosenthal, Co-founder, Police Assisted Addiction and Recovery Initiative; and Timothy Wynn, Iraq War veteran and Veteran Mentor, Philadelphia Veterans Court. Special guests Michael Botticelli, Director of National Drug Control Policy, The White House and U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy spoke about the changing model of addiction response from criminalization to compassion and addiction as a national priority, respectively.
Since 1962, Phoenix House Mid-Atlantic has served more than 35,000 individuals struggling with substance use. Our treatment facilities located in Virginia also serve clients from Maryland, Washington, D.C., Delaware, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, and North Carolina.