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The World in our Hearts: A Message from the ATTC and NIATx Networks

Contributed by the Southeast ATTC
Dawn Tyus, Director
Pamela Woll, Product and Curriculum Development Consultant

Greetings from the makeshift offices we’ve set up in our kitchens and basements and spare bedrooms. The world outside our windows looks like a normal, pretty Spring day, but the world that lives in our hearts is going through some strange, difficult times.

We’re grateful to be able to continue to serve you from our remote outposts, but something important is missing: you. We used to be able to catch up with you at conferences, before and after sessions, and at technical assistance visits. We’re happy whenever we see your little video tile on our Zoom screens, but it doesn’t tell us how you’re doing.

In this field—this culture, really—that has dedicated our lives to the well-being, resilience, and recovery of people with substance use disorders (SUD), you’re probably carrying an extra weight in your heart. We know these times are particularly hard on people whose lives have left them wounded. For people whose SUDs are active, and people whose wounds are still raw in recovery, alcohol and drugs can look like part of the solution, rather than the big flashing hazards they really are.

If you’re a counselor, a coach, a supervisor, an administrator, or any other member of this field, you’ve probably read it in the literature and proved it in your work and your lives: The most healing thing we have going as a field is caring, trustworthy human connection with people. Pandemic disease may be the cruelest kind of disaster, because it robs us of that in-person, face-to-face human connection.

But there’s something we must never forget: This virus may be young and clever and highly contagious, but we have a lot of things it doesn’t have.

  • We have love—for our families and friends, for our colleagues, for our communities, for the people we serve, and for the work we do.
  • We have faith—in recovery, in our values, in our higher powers, in our science, in our skills, and in ourselves.
  • We have a field that has fought its way through loss and pain and stigma and discrimination, to bring real, lasting recovery to people who were once laid low by an illness that has killed far more people than any virus.
  • We have the memory of every time we watched someone make that transition into recovery—and saw a human life transformed before our eyes.
  • And we have the internet—for all the problems it sometimes causes, still a great tool for connection. We can use it to reach out, listen, teach, witness people’s pain, walk alongside them, and BE THERE—for them and with them.

And so, we’re learning to connect, more and more effectively, across the space between us. The many Centers in the ATTC and NIATx Networks have increased our use of face-to-face technologies and our development of resources to help agencies and individuals find the help, guidance, and education they need to stay informed, resilient, and effective in promoting wellness, health, and recovery.

The ATTC Network’s excellent webinar series on Telehealth is only one of many resources on the Network’s trove of Pandemic Response Resources (https://attcnetwork.org/centers/global-attc/pandemic-response-resources-responding-covid-19), and there has never been a better time to dip into the many free e-learning courses available through Health-eKnowledge.

So, we have a lot to say, but something is missing. In this strange, sad, and sometimes heroic world we’re living in, we’d like to hear what you’re going through. We want to know what we can do to help you survive, thrive, and come out of this difficult time stronger, more resilient, and more inspired. Please reach out to us.

We are here for you. We are dedicated to you and the people you serve. We want to connect with you—and help you connect with others—so we can all get each other through this time.

We believe in you. We’ve seen the enormous strengths you bring to your life and your work. We’ve seen the great love that drives you to keep going, even though it’s hard and it sometimes breaks your heart.

Please stay safe and healthy. Please stay connected. And, whatever fears and losses you’re carrying, please know that we hold you in our hearts.


About the Authors:

Dawn Tyus

Dawn Tyus is the Director of the Southeast Addiction Technology Transfer Center (SATTC) at Morehouse School of Medicine, located in Atlanta, Georgia. Dawn has been affiliated with Morehouse School of Medicine and SATTC for eleven years, as a Project Consultant, and was promoted to lead the team as the Project Director in 2011. As Director of ATTC, Dawn is responsible for the management, growth, and business development activities of the project, manage the day-to-day operations including implementation of the policies and programs, responsible for the professional development of staff, as well as new and innovative programs, manage approximately 10 external and internal staff members and consultants, facilitate professional development trainings for clinicians and staff, interface with collaborative partners and stakeholders on a local, federal and state level to organize strategies for statewide initiatives.

Dawn actively work with faith communities to strengthen their awareness, and build their skill set on working with individuals with mental health and substance use disorders.

Dawn is a member of ATTC CLAS Standards and Pre-Service Education Workgroup, Dawn is currently on the board of the Georgia School of Addiction Studies, and the Advisory Board for the Clark Atlanta University’s HBCU C.A. R. E. S.

Dawn has an impressive background in which she brings a wealth of experience from various perspectives. Her background spans many disciplines which include: nonprofit organizations, government, corporate, counseling services, consulting, strategic planning, group and individual coaching She received a Bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice, and a Masters of Education degree in Community Counseling from Mercer University, and is currently completing her Doctoral degree in Counseling Studies at Capella University. Dawn is also a Licensed Professional Counselor in, the State of Georgia where she provides family, individual, and group mental health therapy.

Pamela Woll

Pamela Woll, MA, CADP is a Chicago-based author, curriculum developer, and consultant dedicated to increasing the resilience and capacity of individuals, families, communities, organizations, and systems of care. Her primary areas of focus include trauma-informed and recovery-oriented systems and services; the physiology/neurobiology of resilience, stress, and trauma; public health approaches to behavioral health and wellness; elimination of health and socioeconomic disparities; and the strengths and needs of service members, veterans, and their families. Her recent publications include Compassion Doesn’t Make You Tired: Unmasking and Addressing “Compassion Fatigue”; Addressing Stress and Trauma in Recovery-oriented Systems and Communities, and You Fit Together: Body, Mind, Resilience and Recovery, all published in 2017 by the ATTC Network Coordination Office. Many of the materials she has written are available for free download from her web site, https://sites.google.com/site/humanprioritiesorg/.

Published:
04/15/2020
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The opinions expressed herein are the views of the authors and do not reflect the official position of the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), SAMHSA, CSAT or the ATTC Network. No official support or endorsement of DHHS, SAMHSA, or CSAT for the opinions of authors presented in this e-publication is intended or should be inferred.

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