Recovery Reinvented Event Highlights UND Programs and Partnerships in Addressing Substance Use Disorders
Speaking at the Recovery Reinvented event on Thursday, November 3, UND President Andrew Armacost said he felt privileged to be able to further support people in recovery from substance use disorders. not just across campus, but in the community beyond.
It means being part of the group of supporters.
“I certainly hope that in my personal life, I can be part of the ‘We’ to support those in recovery, and as president of the University of North Dakota, be in an even stronger position to be a bigger ‘We,’ a bigger support group to support those in recovery,” Armacost said.
Armacost was one of the featured speakers at Recovery Reinvented, the annual state-sponsored event that aims to eliminate the shame and stigma of substance use disorders in North Dakota communities. Held this year at the Alerus Center, the event is the key initiative of North Dakota First Lady Kathryn Burgum, who has been candid and open about her struggle with alcoholism and her recovering life.
Governor Doug Burgum and Kathryn Burgum hosted the day-long event that brought together keynote speakers to share their stories. The event also serves as a gathering place for behavioral health professionals, family and friends, and frontline workers engaged in supporting people with substance use disorder.
Referring to the concept of “we”, Armacost drew inspiration from the day’s first keynote speaker, Carrie Steinseifer-Bates, a three-time Olympic swimming gold medalist and now Outreach Manager for the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation. . She spoke of her descent into alcoholism, her life in recovery, and the need to come together to bring about positive change for those struggling with the disease of addiction.
“We, all of you in this room today, are the voices and the faces that will change the world,” she said.
After being greeted on stage by the governor and first lady, Armacost said he prepared his remarks by reflecting on the people in his life who have been affected by addiction. In particular, he spoke of two former colleagues who have similar stories – both graduated from the US Air Force Academy and both attended the same graduate school. Both also suffered from alcoholism.
The stories of these friends have very different endings. A friend has recovered and is doing well both professionally and health-wise. The other died this summer. Armacost said the “We” played a part in the lives of his two friends.
“When I thought about what happened to them, I realized that the first friend had a great ‘we’. The second friend had nobody,” he said.
Armacost said remembering his friends made him think about what is being done on campus to contribute to support systems for people with substance use disorders. The good news is that UND offers a lot to its faculty, staff, and students, as well as to the people of Grand Forks and North Dakota. Even better, these programs and initiatives are multiplying.
Armacost described several on-campus programs available to UND students, faculty, staff, and their families, including:
- The University Guidance Center, that recognizes the importance of early intervention and the progression of substance use disorders. The center offers a variety of counseling services and the peer support groups necessary for effective treatment.
- The Village Business Institute, which offers several counseling programs and is available to UND employees and their families.
- The Green Bandana Project. This national project is a mental health awareness and suicide prevention campaign. Students involved in the program wear a green bandana on their backpack, which makes them recognizable by their peers. These volunteers can then refer students to support programs. Nearly 400 UND students volunteered for training to participate in the campaign.
- The UpLift Support Program for Aerospace Students, a peer support program for Aerospace College students. UND will also host a first of its kind Aviation Mental Health Symposium November 16-17.
- The UND Behavioral Health Unitwhich focuses on education, research, and services to support prevention, treatment, and recovery by preparing the future workforce, and expanding research and evidence-based practice in related disorders to the use of substances that are culturally appropriate.
Armacost also discussed off-campus partnerships and collaborations, including:
- The Mountain Plains Addiction Technology Transfer Center. The center serves a six-state region that includes North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, Wyoming, Utah and Colorado. Cindy Juntunen, The UND Dean of Education, Health and Behavioral is the principal investigator and co-director of the center, which provides training in the treatment and recovery of substance use disorders throughout the region.
- The Mountain Plains Center for Mental Health Technology Transfer. The center works with the ATTC to address addiction and mental health issues, and is overseen by Rachel Navaro, professor of counseling psychology, education, health and behavior.
- The UND’s Western North Dakota Suicide Prevention Program, called North Dakota HOPES (Health Care Opportunity, Prevention and Suicide Prevention Education). This program is managed by Thomasine Heitkampresearcher in the office of the vice-president for research and economic development, and Ethan Dahl, Assistant Professor in Education, Health and Behavioral Studies. It serves disproportionately affected populations, including rural residents, veterans, and LGBTQ+ youth.
- LaGrave on First, Grand Forks’ supportive housing solution for people experiencing chronic homelessness. The housing project is a collaboration between the UND Department of Social Work, the Grand Forks Housing Authority and Altru Hospital.
Armacost also said that the UND and the country’s universities are doing their best to educate professionals in the disciplines of social work, criminal justice pharmacology, philosophy and counseling, among others, in order to contribute to the recovery and well-being of those with substance use disorder.
“These contributions are certainly significant, and they include many, many opportunities for us to operate in multifaceted ways with partners across the state and in the local community,” Armacost said.