Press Release -Washington, DC (May 25, 2017) – The tenth Annual Ramstad/Kennedy Award for outstanding leadership recognizes Cassandra Price, Director of Addictive Services in the Georgia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities, who is being honored for her leadership in recovery support programs across her state and nationally. The award was established in honor of Congressmen Jim Ramstad and Patrick Kennedy. The two Congressmen have been vocal advocates of recovery support services in all forms, and championed localized efforts to support prevention, treatment and recovery.
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) recognizes that long-term recovery is not only possible, but is the goal of addiction and mental illness treatment and support programs. The 2017 honoree has worked to spread this positive message and the message that prevention can be effective in helping to break the cycle of addiction in families.
Cassandra designed the program to support families dealing with addiction and those whose loved ones are in recovery. She is recognized for her leadership and untiring spirit for the field, the state and most importantly for those whose lives have been touched by substance use disorders. “She has worked to engage state agencies and create change, statewide, that will provide enduring resources for residents and encourage recovery for the future benefit of Georgia families and communities,” said Sis Wenger, National Association of Children of Alcoholics (NACoA), a Recovery Month partner.
“Together in partnership with the dedicated organizations who comprise the Recovery Month Planning Partners, recovery success stories have become commonplace in Georgia, in part because of Cassandra’s on-going and exceptional commitment,” Wenger continued.
“The recipient of the Ramstad/Kennedy award embodies the innovation of a leader dedicated to support prevention, treatment and recovery in their community. On behalf of over 200 collaborating organizations in the Recovery Month Planning Partners, we congratulate Cassandra on her vision and commitment” said Recovery Month partner Marie Gallo Dyak, President of the Entertainment Industries Council, Inc.
Both Retired Minnesota 3rd district representative Jim Ramstad and Retired Rhode Island 1st district representative Patrick J. Kennedy also championed a mental health and addiction parity law in 2008 requiring easily accessible health insurance coverage for mental illness and addiction treatment. Together the Congressmen have sponsored Recovery Month and other programs to further therapy, treatment and recovery services for these illnesses across the country. The award in their names honors a recipient who has shown upmost commitment in expanding the prospects for recovery of addicted persons and their families and for persons with mental illnesses.
As the conference host agency, DBHDD Commissioner Frank Berry will welcome all attendees on behalf our agency as a keynote presenter at the opening plenary session on March 30. He will also describe Georgia’s efforts in providing addiction treatment and recovery services. Others speakers at the session include Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed and AATOD President Mark W. Parrino, who will present AATOD’s work with government in support of evidence-based opioid treatment.
Registration to the AATOD conference allows attendees access to workshops, pre-conference sessions and an exhibitor hall where more than 1500 people, including healthcare professionals, program administrators and other treatment providers, are expected to attend.
During a lunch session at the 10th annual Accountability Courts Conference, Judge Albert “Alby” Zweig shared his story from heroin addiction to law school to helping others as a magistrate judge in Denver, Colorado’s drug court.
Judge Zweig emphasized the role that community supports play in recovery. People struggling with addiction are “worthy of your compassion, not your scorn,” said Zweig. “A lot of people don’t understand the level to which addicts cannot stop using without help-and how successful they can be if we help them.”
DBHDD kicked off Red Ribbon Week on behalf of the Governor’s Red Ribbon Campaign, which supports the national Red Ribbon movement started by the National Family Partnership in 1988 to honor federal DEA Agent Enrique “Kiki” Camarena, who was murdered while working in Mexico to fight drug trafficking. Today, Red Ribbon focuses on educating children about the dangers of drug use and encouraging them to seek healthy alternatives to drugs.
DBHDD provides educational materials and resources to Georgia schools and communities to help them encourage drug-free living year-round. Our efforts culminate annually during National Red Ribbon Week (October 23-31), which is celebrated with activities and events that encourage healthy alternatives to drug use and alcohol abuse.
Approximately 1,500 children from across Georgia gathered at the October 22nd kick off in Mableton. Many of the schools participated in a talent show that featured posters, skits, singing and dancing as expressions of their commitment to living drug-free.
On July 17 and 18, the health and human services department hosted a meeting, “Advancing Policy and Practice: A 50-State Working Meeting to Prevent Opioid-Related Overdose,” in Washington, DC—the first-ever convention of governmental partners from all 50 states that focused solely on this issue. “I am encouraged by HHS’ initiative to bring states together on this important topic and recognize the impact that this epidemic is having on families and communities across our nation,” said DBHDD addictive diseases director Cassandra Price. “I look forward to continuing our collaboration with partners in other states as we work to reduce opioid abuse in Georgia and across the U.S.”
DBHDD staff joined peers from across the nation at the meeting, which featured presentations from national experts who provided a comprehensive overview of the epidemic, highlighting many of the intervention strategies being used throughout the U.S. to address opioid abuse. States also met in teams to discuss state-level planning for prevention strategies, access to medication-assisted treatment, including Naloxone, a medication used to reverse the effects of opioid overdose, and strengthening health care provider accountability.
Visit our website for more information on substance abuse prevention efforts in Georgia.
On May 5, Commissioner Frank Berry, flanked by State Representatives Katie Dempsey (R-Rome) and Rick Jasperse (R-Jasper) and Highland Rivers Health CEO Jason Bearden, announced a new substance abuse treatment facility to open in Jasper on Aug. 1. The program will serve people across 31 counties in north Georgia.
“DBHDD and our partners at Highland Rivers are focused on building community-based services that provide easy access to high-quality care across north Georgia,” said Berry. “The department is grateful for the continued support of the Georgia General Assembly, which makes it possible for us to meet the needs of the people we serve.”
The Highland Recovery Center will open at Highland Rivers’ outpatient clinic in Pickens County, which is being renovated to accommodate the new program. Highland Recovery will feature a 20-bed residential program for men—the first of its kind in north Georgia—and an outpatient treatment facility for both men and women. The new center will serve as a companion program to Highland Rivers’ Women’s Outreach in Rome.
“Highland Rivers Health is grateful for the vision, leadership and partnership of DBHDD and their recognition of the significant need for long term addiction treatment services in north Georgia,” said Bearden. “The new Highland Recovery Center will add to the growing continuum of comprehensive recovery services and supports for citizens with addictive disease.”
Nearly $350,000 in new investments will be used to remodel the current facility. The center has been given a $1.5 million budget for its first year of operations. Highland Rivers expects to staff Highland Recovery with approximately 25 new hires.
Organizers expect this year’s summit to top last year’s attendance of nearly 1,000. “The Summit takes a holistic approach to the drug abuse epidemic, bringing together legislators, law enforcement, medical professionals, advocates, educators and many other leaders to focus on real solutions,” said Rogers in a press conference hosted by DBHDD Commissioner Frank Berry in January.
The Generation Rx Project (GEN Rx), a program of DBHDD’s Office of Prevention Services and Programs, will sponsor the summit. GEN Rx was created in response to the growing epidemic of prescription drug abuse among youth and young adults in Georgia. The program’s objective is to reduce prescription drug misuse and abuse among 12-25 year olds within targeted Georgia counties, Catoosa, Early and Gwinnett. GEN Rx will have an exhibit booth at the summit and will be providing information about the project to attendees.
DBHDD Prevention Team Leader Christopher Wood will present at a workshop (“Building Local Capacity to Prevent Rx Drug Abuse”) during the summit. Wood will discuss programmatic approaches to prevent prescription drug misuse and abuse, and specifically those programs and strategies being utilized by GEN Rx. The workshop will take place on Wednesday, April 23 from 1:30–2:45 p.m.