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Virginia to receive $1.1M to address substance abuse recovery in Appalachia

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The substance abuse crisis disproportionately impacts Appalachia, where in 2018 the overdose mortality rate for people ages 25–54 was 43 percent higher than the rest of the country.

The devastating health impacts of this crisis also have severe economic impacts, keeping many Appalachian people of prime working age from participating in the labor force and contributing to the region’s economy.

“As a doctor and as governor, I have seen the impact of the substance abuse crisis, which has significantly affected our entire Commonwealth. We need a focused, regional approach to reducing addiction and supporting recovery,” said Gov. Ralph Northam, who announced this week that Virginia will receive grants totaling more than $1.1 million through the Appalachian Regional Commission INvestments Supporting Partnerships in Recovery Ecosystems initiative for three projects in the Appalachian region of Virginia.

INSPIRE is a new initiative focused on addressing substance abuse disorders in Appalachian communities by creating or expanding a recovery ecosystem that will help people get back into the workforce.

The INSPIRE Initiative will help build a more resilient and thriving Appalachia, and I am proud of the strong collaborative efforts of our regional partners throughout Appalachian Virginia to bring this federally supported program to their communities.”

In February, Appalachia’s 13 governors elected Northam to serve as ARC’s States’ Co-Chair for 2021. The ARC region of Virginia encompasses 25 counties and eight independent cities. INSPIRE draws on the work and recommendations developed by ARC’s Substance Abuse Advisory Council to address the impact substance abuse continues to have on the region’s workforce in comparison to the rest of the country.

Created in May 2019, the SAAC is a 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.

“Improving the quality of life for all residents of Appalachia remains a priority for the Northam Administration, and we are eager to use this funding from the INSPIRE initiative to address some of the challenges facing our Appalachian communities,” Secretary of Commerce and Trade Brian Ball said. “These three projects will foster a stronger recovery ecosystem, which is paramount for creating stronger communities and robust workforces, as well as fostering economic prosperity.”

This announcement is part of $9.4 million awarded to 30 projects to support recovery-to-work efforts and address the substance abuse crisis in the Appalachian region. For more information on the INSPIRE initiative, visit

Virginia ARC INSPIRE grants

Community Recovery Program Expansion

Counties of Patrick and Henry and the City of Martinsville

This project will enable the Piedmont Regional Community Services Board to build upon its current recovery efforts by transitioning the vocational training program from an in-house service to a community-focused service where the Community Recovery Program (CRP) will offer services to community agencies and faith-based organizations. In exchange for the vocational training program providing janitorial and housekeeping services at these agencies, a fee or donation will be requested from the agency or organization receiving the service. This collaboration provides another opportunity for CRP participants to secure real work experience, build skills, and foster funding for the program to sustain the increase in staff.

Project: Amelioration Phase II

County of Wise

This project will identify and develop the substance use disorder (SUD) recovery ecosystem, connecting the 30th Judicial Circuit Drug Court’s established, regulated intake and structured network to Mountain Empire Community College’s new pipeline of workforce development. Funding will support two new positions, both of which will combine and connect all available resources to fully engage and assist program participants from identification and enrollment to completion and employment. This connection will remove barriers that tend to derail the recovery process by helping those in recovery maintain employment through the synchronization of multiple services and providers, offering a more efficient and effective path to SUD recovery.

Project Recovery

Counties of Alleghany and Craig and the City of Covington

This project will create a program to provide participants with one-on-one counseling and support, comprehensive assessments to determine needs, training and skill development, and employment placement. This project will also provide education and awareness to the business community on hiring individuals who have experienced substance abuse and how to provide the support needed for new and existing employees who may have been faced with these challenges. Project Recovery will capitalize on the services and organizations that are established to assist individuals with recovery-to-work and provide holistic, wraparound services to individuals affected by substance abuse with a focus on work readiness, employment, and training.

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