On December 5th, the Association of Recovery Schools (ARS) hosted their First Annual Recovery Research Awards Banquet. This event honored a number of champions within the recovery and addiction research field. Award recipients included the renowned William (“Bill”) White; Dr. Nora D. Volkow, Director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA); Dr. John Kelly of Harvard Medical School; Dr. Sigurd Zielke, co-founder of Hope Academy Recovery High School; Dr. Andy Finch, co-founder of ARS; Dr. Paul Moberg, acclaimed evaluation researcher; Andrew Burki, Life of Purpose, founder and CEO.

Tom Coderre, SAMHSA’s Senior Advisor to the the Administrator, presented the “Director of the Year Award for Outstanding Contributions to the Advancement of Addiction Recovery Research by a Federal Office” to Dr. Nora Volkow. In his presentation, Mr. Coderre said, “[Dr. Volkow] has the ability to zero in on details and facts. She just cuts through all this noise that is out there in our field about what addiction is and is not, and that is really incredible.”

Later on, while accepting the Recovery Philanthropist of the Year Award, Mr. Burki said, “If we can do the things that these researchers are talking about, and empower the researchers to get us the data, to leverage the data, to go get the legislation passed, to get the financial support that is necessary to actually implement a solution to Substance Use Disorder in this country, then we will be able to change the world.”

Director Michael Botticelli, of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, presented Bill White with an award that has been named in his honor: the William L. White Lifetime Achievement Award for Excellence in the Advancement of Recovery Research. In presenting this award, Dir. Botticelli spoke to the heart of this event when he said, “Now, more than ever, we need a research community to generate and diffuse solid research on recovery and to continue to shape evidence based policy.”

It is indeed vital for events like this to be held. Not only does it recognize the tireless work being done by so many in the field; it also sheds light on the overall progress that has been made in addressing youth substance use disorder over the past couple of decades.

Days after attending ARS’s inaugural awards banquet, Dir. Botticelli appeared on 60 Minutes for an interview with Correspondent Scott Pelley. Their discussion included inspired talk of prison reform, language reform, and some of Dir. Botticelli’s personal recovery story. Upon being reminded by Mr. Pelley that there are people who will disagree with Dir. Botticelli’s opinions on prison reform, the Director said, “I think we have to base our policy on scientific understanding. You know, we’ve had really great models – evaluated models – to show that we can simultaneously divert people away from our criminal justice system without an increase in crime. This actually reduces crime.”

Through events like ARS’s banquet and the 60 Minutes segment, the movement is gaining more positive momentum every day.