The Appalachian Regional Commission Accepts Substance Abuse Advisory Council Recommendations for Strengthening Regional Recovery Ecosystems

Asheville, N.C. - Today, the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) accepted the Substance Abuse Advisory Council (SAAC) final Report of Recommendations outlining proposed steps for supporting a robust recovery ecosystem in Appalachia. These recommendations target the ARC recovery-to-work ecosystem model, and include:

  • Developing a recovery ecosystem model that addresses stakeholder roles and responsibilities as part of a collaborative process that develops infrastructure and operations, and fund deployment of local planning and implementation of the model, and examine funding models to sustain the recovery ecosystem.

  • Developing and disseminating a playbook of solutions for communities addressing common ecosystems gaps and services barriers.

  • Developing model workforce training programs that incorporate recovery services with appropriate evaluation measures.

  • Convening experts to develop and disseminate an employer best practices toolkit to educate employers and human resource experts in recruiting, selecting, managing, and retaining employees who are in recovery.

  • Funding local liaison positions across Appalachia responsible for promoting a recovery ecosystem by building bridges between employers, workforce development agencies, and recovery organizations, and disseminating an employer best practices toolkit.

“This report, the result of excellent work by the ARC Substance Abuse Advisory Council, is informed and inspired by the people of the Appalachian Region, who have been especially impacted by the substance abuse epidemic in our country,” said ARC Federal Co-Chairman Tim Thomas. “I am proud not only of the innovative and necessary recommendations they have produced, but of the transparent and participatory process by which they reached their conclusions. Their effort proves that effective leadership begins at the community level. I accept their recommendations, thank the Commission for doing the same, and will seek to begin addressing them with our state partners in future ARC programs.” 

In May, 2019, ARC seated the Substance Abuse Advisory Council (SAAC), a 24-member volunteer group of leaders from recovery services, health, economic development, private industry, education, state government, law enforcement, and other sectors representing each of the Region’s 13 states. ARC charged the Advisory Council to develop concrete guiding recommendations to ARC for addressing the workforce impacts of Appalachia’s substance abuse epidemic.

Many of the recommendations’ key themes were drawn from six Recovery-to-Work Listening Sessions hosted by ARC December, 2018–April, 2019.  ARC formally accepted the SAAC’s recommendations during the Commission’s annual business meeting in Asheville, North Carolina. The recommendations were discussed during ARC’s 2019 Annual Summit Appalachia Strong: Prosperity, Progress, Growth, which took place in Asheville last week.

Additional information about ARC’s current portfolio of work in regards to the Region’s substance abuse crisis is available at