Recovery Reinvented comes to MSU
First campus event to include student outreach
Minot State University students will share their lived experiences with addiction and recovery during the seventh annual Recovery Reinvented, taking place for the first time on a college campus.
The student panel is among a number of activities that people can follow or participate in on Thursday, either on the MSU campus or through the online livestream.
The event will heavily emphasize the experiences of North Dakotans facing addiction, with several sharing stories of battling addiction, finding recovery, providing support to a loved one and dealing with shame and stigma surrounding addiction. A variety of stories will be shared from perspectives of tribal communities, professionals working in addiction recovery, service providers, family members and others.
Jonathan Holth, managing director with the Office of Recovery Reinvented, said people are asked to register for purposes of measuring attendance to ensure adequate space and food, but there is no charge to attend. Register at https://recoveryreinvented.com/events/2023.
The website also is where detailed information about the event can be found.
“We’re really excited to be bringing the conference to Minot for the first time,” Holth said. “Also, (it’s) the first time that we’ve held it on a college campus, so we’re really excited about that. We think it’s an important demographic in this discussion – to reach younger people and have conversations with younger people. We’re hoping to see a good turnout of university students from Minot State.”
The hope also is to have students from other campuses attend either in-person or online through the livestream, he said.
“We want to have the discussion with students and give them the tools to be successful in recovery as well. And I think going along with that, a lot of people assume that drinking is just part of the college experience. That it’s a phase that you go through and then you graduate and you get your job and that’s over, and we want to break down that myth a little bit and explain to people, to show the people, that addiction can be prevalent on college campuses, and also that recovery can be found when they’re a college student as well. So, I think that’ll be, definitely, a theme that comes forward in this year’s conference,” Holth said.
MSU has sent students to previous Recovery Reinvented events, but having the event on campus will enable more students and faculty to participate, said Kevin Harmon, MSU vice president of Student Affairs. Also, the addiction recovery community in northwestern North Dakota is vibrant and strong, but not all have the ability to travel long distances to attend these types of events, he said.
“There’s really no substitute for an in-person experience to listen to the keynote speakers, to Governor Burgum to First Lady Burgum. They’re very passionate about this issue, and it’s an excellent, well done event that is probably best experienced in person, where you have an opportunity to meet with the keynote speakers as well. It’s over 30 vendors from around the state of North Dakota providing these types of services,” Harmon said. “This is a fantastic opportunity to really learn more about recovery and how it relates to addiction.”
New this year is the panel discussion with students in recovery, moderated by Vicki Michels, chair of the addiction studies program at MSU.
Holth said the event looks to highlight the successful addiction studies program at MSU.
“One of the biggest challenges facing our state right now is workforce shortages, and the recovery space really is no different,” he said. “Having a strong university program in addiction studies that’s going to produce licensed addiction counselors that can serve our state is really, really critical.”
Additionally, Recovery Reinvented has a strong lineup of keynote speakers, he added.
They include Dr. Lipi Roy, a physician, Forbes contributor, frequent on-air medical commentator and host of the YouTube series, “Health, Humor and Harmony.”
Another keynote speaker will be Scott Davis, executive director of the North Dakota Indian Affairs Commission from 2009-2021, who has his own recovery story.
Dr. Steven Loyd, an internal medicine and addiction medicine physician from Tennessee, also will speak. He is chief medical officer for Cedar Recovery in Tennessee, chair of the Tennessee Opioid Abatement Council and a person in recovery.
“We have quite a few North Dakotans who will be sharing their story of recovery as well with us that day,” Holth said.
A goal of Recovery Reinvented is to reduce the stigma associated with addiction, and Holth said there has been some success. A survey in 2018 and again in 2021, measuring North Dakotans’ attitudes about addiction as a disease, found stigma reduced by about 11%.
“We do feel like it’s making a difference. The way people think about and approach this, they believe it’s a disease and they treat it differently,” Holth said. “We’ve seen attendance go up every year in our conference so there’s been a larger interest. Last year we had people tune in for the livestream from 28 different states and four different countries.”
Holth acknowledged an overdose crisis exists in America with the cheaper, more potent drugs. The Behavioral Health Division in the North Dakota Department of Health and Human Services will be presenting information about addiction and recovery programming, including overdose prevention, at Recovery Reinvented.
In 2022, drug-related overdoses claimed 152 lives in North Dakota, up 9% from 2021, according to the department. Recovery Reinvented will provide training and distribute free naloxone kits for reversing opioid overdoses, to all attendees.
This year’s Recovery Reinvented will bring back the Recovery Resources Expo, which connects attendees to a variety of addiction, recovery and mental health resources from across the state. The event will include the presentation of awards for champions in the recovery arena.
Recovery Reinvented kicks off at 9:30 a.m. on Thursday and runs until 5 p.m. in Ann Nicole Nelson Hall in Old Main. There will be musical performances, and lunch and snacks will be served.
The event can be attended online at recoveryreinvented.com and followed on Facebook or Twitter at either @RecoveryND or @First Lady ND.
Continuing education credits are available for addiction counselors, social workers, nurses and law enforcement.
Holth said Recovery Reinvented also welcomes North Dakotans who have recovery experiences to share their stories on the website. The website features recovery stories not only during Recovery Reinvented but throughout the year.