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A Message from NAATP CEO on Social Injustice

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I write this message to you on behalf of the National Association of Addiction Treatment Providers, and perhaps, presumptively, on behalf of the thousands of NAATP members who sit in compassion and pain for our nation and its people today. The tragic slaying of George Floyd has underscored, once again, the structural inequality, racism, and injustices that continue to pervade our society and institutions.

The National Association is a professional addiction treatment membership and advocacy society. Our mission is to provide our nation with a system of effective Substance Use Disorder health care, irrespective of a patient’s social position and in the face of stigmatization that ignorantly argues that addiction is a lesser disease, if it is a disease at all. The senseless deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, and countless others, must not only reawaken us and demand our action as citizens, they also hold implications for our work in the addiction treatment profession that must be examined.

Since March, our treatment professionals have worked tirelessly to provide care amidst a historic pandemic. We have never faced anything like this, and it has been hard. Yet we are doing it. We are pivoting and developing new tools, sharing resources, and helping each other. We are resilient because we know the fear and hopelessness of addiction can be replaced with courage and hope. Now, the pain brought on by the pandemic has been compounded by violent injustice, coupled with political attempts to justify it and demonize those who stand up against it. We have demonstrated our ability to pivot to address unmet need and we are called to do so again here for disparities in health care delivery.

Most Americans, and disproportionately People of Color, do not have adequate access to quality addiction treatment. We have not done enough to confront the racial and ethnic disparities in treatment access and outcomes. As an industry, we must do more and do better in grappling with social determinants of health and their direct application to recovery from addiction, with a rigorous commitment to inclusivity.

As citizens, we must elevate the voices of and stand in solidarity with our fellow Americans who continue to face life-threatening oppression. As treatment professionals, we must answer the call, too long deferred, to center equity as we continue our work to improve treatment access and efficacy. Addiction lives and grows in isolation, recovery occurs in community, and community is only real and sustainable to the extent that it is just. Let us finally join and uplift those demanding justice and equity, refute the rhetoric of hate and division, and come together as a national community of recovery.

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Resources

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Voices for Justice and Change: NAATP welcomes comment on how the addiction treatment field can best respond to and support clients at this time, and comments on how the treatment field must evolve to better confront racial, ethnic, and other disparities in addiction health care. Write to

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