Misericordia faculty member named to national Foundation for Drug Policy Solutions
William Stauffer, LSW, CCS, CADC, adjunct professor of Social Work at Misericordia University, has been named to the Leadership Council of the newly formed Foundation for Drug Policy Solutions, a national "think/do" tank formed to support population-level policies aimed at reducing substance use initiation and disorder, while advancing health equity. Stauffer has worked in the field of substance use for nearly 35 years, doing advocacy work for more than two decades. He is also the executive director of the Pennsylvania Recovery Organization Alliance.
"I write about the subject and have been involved in policy discussions before, so they (the Foundation) called me, actually. I think they see me as someone who has views and understanding of the field of substance use disorder and can aide in the work they are doing," said Stauffer of how he came to join the Foundation's Leadership Council.
Leadership Council members include former U.S. Deputy Drug Czar and former NYPD First Deputy Commissioner Ben Tucker; former U.S. Assistant Secretary of Health Howard Koh; former White House Drug Czar and retired U.S. Army General Barry McCaffrey; and former U.S. Congressman Patrick Kennedy.
"I know Patrick Kennedy and have worked with him on other things. What I was struck mostly by is it's a group heavy with law enforcement, but they were all interested in recovery. They are very interested in keeping people out of our criminal justice system by getting them into recovery. That is a major change in how law enforcement looks at substance use," said Stauffer.
The foundation was announced in September as part of the Clinton Global Initative, held at the University Club in New York City. It was the group's first meeting to discuss ideas and concepts of things that needed to be done with developing better policies in the U.S. for addiction and recovery.
"We go through periods of time in America where we make progress in elevating recovery and dignifying supporting people, and then there are periods where we move backwards. It's not linear; we don't move in a constant direction. There are some signs that we must be really careful, or we may head backwards," said Stauffer, who speaks from experience. He entered recovery at the young age of 21 and has been in recovery for 36 years.
"The stigma has always been present. We have a long way to go to normalize recovery in ways where there is no stigma for having a problem," he said.
Stauffer teaches three different courses at Misericordia: substance use in older adults, addiction in the criminal justice system, and he will be teaching a course on addiction in families.
What will Stauffer bring to the students at Misericordia and the people of northeast Pennsylvania by being on this foundation?
"I think it could help broaden the discussions on things that need to happen and involving the community on how we support recovery. I made two points at the first foundation meeting: how we look at addiction to a substance and then the wellness process. We need to flush that out. We know that addiction is on a continuum. Complex conditions cause addiction: genetic markers, environment, trauma, mental health, age of use and more all go into whether you have a problem and how severe your problem with addiction is," he said.
Stauffer went on to discuss what it looks like when people go into recovery, with the length of the recovery program directly correlating to their long-term success.
"We send people to twenty-one or twenty-eight-day rehab, and then they are kind of on their own. We wouldn't do this to someone with cancer. The central policy question in the U.S. should be getting people into recovery programs for five years. The science shows that people in recovery programs for five years have a much better outcome to stay sober," said Stauffer.
For more information on the Foundation for Drug Policy solutions, visit their website, https://gooddrugpolicy.org