Faces and voices of recovery taking center stage

North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum and First Lady Kathryn Burgum, seen at a previous Recovery Reinvented event. This year's Recovery Reinvented will take place live and online on Monday, Oct. 25.

When people talk about addiction, North Dakota First Lady Kathryn Burgum said, they take away the disease’s shame and stigma. They normalize what they talk about and in doing so, they create opportunities for new understanding.

The fifth annual Recovery Reinvented will be held from 9:30 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday, Oct. 25 at the Bismarck Event Center, Bismarck, North Dakota, and online at recoveryreinvented.com. While the event is free, space is limited and participants are asked to reserve a space. They can do so by registering at recoveryreinvented.com/2021.

“We have a bunch of North Dakotans who will be sharing their stories of how addiction has impacted their lives,” Burgum said. “These are many different people from all sorts of industries and communities, from farmers to doctors and nurses.”

The first lady and Gov. Doug Burgum, R-N.D., will host Recovery Reinvented. Throughout the event, the hosts, keynote speakers and participants will focus on the sharing of addiction and recovery stories, creation of recovery-friendly cultures in workplaces and communities, eliminating stigma and creating meaningful connections with others.

A highlight of the day will be the revealing of insight and results from the North Dakota Addressing Addiction survey. Dr. Valerie Earnshaw, one of Recovery Reinvented’s keynote speakers, was the survey’s principal investigator. More than 2,300 people participated, representing areas including healthcare, businesses, the justice system and more.

“We were shocked. Thank you, North Dakota, for these responses that are important to your lives and important to this work,” Kathryn Burgum said.

Dr. Earnshaw’s work includes leading interventions funded by the National Institutes of Health to reduce stigma toward people with substance use disorders among clinicians.

Organizers and supporters of Recovery Reinvented say that increased communication is among their highest goals.

“Recovery Reinvented continually seeks to innovate and inspire by bringing both experts and people with lived experience of addiction to the table to talk about solutions,” Gov. Burgum said. “We have an incredible opportunity to listen and learn from North Dakotans on what they know and how they feel about addiction so we can more effectively identify the gaps and areas to enhance programs and services.”

Many of the programs and services will participate in the Recovery Resources Expo, which Kathryn Burgum is particularly proud of.

“We’re allowing for people to wander through and learn more,” she said.

Addiction continues to have a significant impact on North Dakota. In 2020, there were 118 deaths statewide from drug-related overdoses, up from 79 in 2019. The Burgums themselves keep naloxone, used to rapidly reverse opioid overdose, in a cupboard.

“Naloxone training is so easy to do. We need to understand that people are overdosing everywhere. It’s not happening in the dark alleys and under bridges. Guess what? It’s happening in libraries, coffee shops and in our communities,” Kathryn Burgum said.

Opportunities to volunteer at Recovery Reinvented are available. The day will include awards for local individuals and groups “that are making a tremendous impact in the field of addiction and recovery.” Burgum encourages communities and individuals to look for and nominate their special friends and neighbors.

“When we get the word out, we’re helping to eliminate stigma,” she said. “I always tell people, when you tell the story and you’re sharing, you’re saving lives.”

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