It may not be the first way we think of helping people who struggle with addiction, but the Indiana Addiction Issues Coalition (IAIC) advocates for people and their recovery through public policy and education.
“Treatment is not the goal, recovery is the goal,” says IAIC director Brandon George. “People need ongoing connections to systems. Indiana has a pretty good infrastructure for treatment. But it doesn’t have an infrastructure for recovery. That’s where we come in.”
Founded in 1999, the goal of the IAIC is to create a statewide grassroots network composed primarily of members of the recovery community, family members, and care providers. They do this through advocacy, public education and service. It’s helping build capacity for recovery by training 300 recovery coaches over the past five years. “We go all over the state,” George says.
“Before the creation of recovery-informed communities, people had no idea what to do and were relying on internet services to learn. The internet isn’t going to solve a health care crisis.”
The IAIC also works at the grassroots level. Federal and state grants in recent years have allowed the group to expand and offer recovery support services.
IAIC created the Indiana Recovery Network. As the name indicates, it is a network of people and organizations around the state. They have monthly conference calls and share resources, breaking them down into four areas: health (health department, treatment, buprenorphine, naloxone, hepatitis treatment), home (recovery residences, housing, emergency shelter), communities, and purpose (state chapter, workforce development, collegiate recovery).
“We also have a digital collaboration space,” George points out. “For instance, people in the north can talk to places like Scott County in the south or talk to cities and towns who’ve already done the work. There’s an app that goes with it, as well as a function for recovery coaches. Over 100 programs and organizations are involved.”
Its Project CLEAR (Civil Legal Aid and Recovery) works with people in recovery to help get records expunged to increase employment opportunities as well as issues like licenses, housing, and debt.
Do you speak stigma?” and StigmaNeverHelps.com campaign addresses the stigma issue.
The IAIC also works as a neutral party that pulls together state resources and partnerships from across state and community agencies, particularly in funding. And it hosts monthly community events on self-advocacy in the recovery community.
George points to IAIC efforts in Scott County as an example of its success. “Part of the response there was recovery support. The stigma was palpable, it was thought these were moral issues and moral failings. We did multiple recovery coach trainings and now 30 recovery coaches work there. It was so successful, at one point 20 percent of the state workforce for recovery coaches was in Scott County. Before that they had two recovery meetings a week; now they have 18. The Coalition was instrumental in building recovery support and peer support there. Scott County went from how not to handle something to a white paper on how to build a recovery community from scratch. George sums it up this way: “We feel like we did good, we were humbled to walk alongside their community.”
Indiana Addiction Issues Coalition was a featured award winner in the 2019 Innovation Now project of the Addiction Policy Forum.