Since August 2009, Slingshot Solutions has represented the policy interests of IC&RC in Washington, D.C. In formulating a plan with the IC&RC leadership, we decided that much of our first year should be dedicated to becoming better known around the nation’s capitol, so that we may position ourselves to implement the policy changes we feel so strongly about. While our first priority is working on policies that directly impact the substance abuse treatment and prevention professionals our member boards represent, we also have a keen interest in other issues that affect the treatment and prevention community, such as parity, scientific research on addiction, and the appropriations process that funds all of it.
We’re happy to report that so far, we’re right on schedule. We have joined several influential coalitions, met with key policy-makers, and are on the radar of key federal agencies. We have met with the staff of members of Congress, Senators, and hopefully soon will be meeting with the White House staff in the Office of National Drug Control Policy. We have met with senior staff at the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). We’re also trying to become more involved in work with special populations, including Native Americans, criminal justice populations, the homeless, and active service members and veterans.
Not to be overlooked is the “I” in IC&RC. We have just begun efforts to contact organizations that have an interest in treatment at the international level, including the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime and the Organization of American States. We also intend to meet with members of the State Department staff who work on substance abuse treatment issues. There are other international organizations similar to ours, such as the International Federation of Social Workers, which would have much to offer if we could establish a good relationship with them. We can always learn from other organizations when it comes to their certification structure, their policy agenda, and how they expand their international reach.
There is obviously still much work to be done. While SAMHSA and NIDA are doing well in terms of their budgets and their agendas, substance abuse treatment advocates have lost a true champion, with the retirement of Rep. Patrick Kennedy. The Wellstone/Domenici Parity Act has passed and been implemented, but we are far from true treatment equality for substance abusers. We have yet to meet with the leadership at HRSA, a very influential agency in the workforce arena.
In short, it’s been a good start. More to come in San Diego!