The fight to end addiction stigma continues at this year’s virtual Recovery Reinvented

Flint Group | Photo Courtesy
Last year’s Recovery Reinvented

The event will feature various keynote speakers while offering resources for those struggling or who know someone struggling

Despite this year’s fourth annual Recovery Reinvented having to shift to a virtual event, the main purpose of helping people and families struggling with addiction isn’t going to change. First Lady Kathryn Burgum gave a preview of what the Oct. 28 event is going to entail and the progress made from last year.

One of the topics to be discussed at this year’s event is mental health. The North Dakota COVID-19 Community Impact Survey found that 67.9% of North Dakotans experienced an increase in mental health struggles since the start of the pandemic. The survey also found that nearly one in five adults experienced an increase in substance abuse since the beginning of the pandemic.

“I think that it certainly brings to life that people are struggling more now than ever,” Burgum said when asked if she thinks there is more awareness on mental health and addiction.

“With mental health and addiction, those are two things that are very isolating anyway where because of the stigma, people don’t want to talk about it so you’re kind of alone.”

Burgum said that the Recovery Reinvented event is being held at a time when people will want to hear stories of hope and resilience. The event will not only dive into the connections between mental health and addiction but will also discuss Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) which looks into how events that occurred when someone is young can affect them when they’re older.

Dr. Drew Pinksy, a Media Personality and Addiction Specialist, will be one of the keynote speakers this year and will bring his knowledge on mental health and addiction to the event.

Burgum also talked about whether she thinks North Dakota offered enough resources for mental health before the pandemic hit and whether there are more resources offered now.

At the start of the pandemic, Burgum mentioned that a lot of the resources offered were for people to physically go to the location. Currently, Burgum said there are a lot more resources being offered virtually through Zoom and Telehealth.

“I believe that there are way more opportunities for people to connect to recovery groups and just individual therapy,” Burgum said adding that people can find the help easily because it’s online.

In terms of what more can be done to increase the awareness of mental health and the help needed, Burgum said that it’s up to the groups and people who provide the services to promote their resources. Burgum added this can be done online and through social media which Burgum said is, “one of the best ways you can get the word out about what’s available.”

Another topic that will be talked about at this year’s event is about building recovery-friendly workplaces. Executives and employees from Solid Comfort are going to be speaking about their program Solid Start. Solid Comfort is a company located in Fargo that manufactures furniture for the hospitality industry with about 75% of the workforce having been incarcerated or have struggled with addiction.

Burgum said that the recognition of recovery-friendly workplaces is gaining more national attention as she was able to speak at a roundtable discussion at the White House in September which focused on building recovery in workplaces.

“I’m just going to keep doing what I can to bring awareness to that opportunity…,” Burgum said, adding that companies can take the opportunity to eliminate the shame and talk about addiction which will normalize the conversation.

Like previous years, Recovery Reinvented is also going to provide resources for families reaching out for help. This year David Sheff, the author of “Beautiful Boy,” will be one of the keynote speakers. Sheff will be sharing the story of his son who struggled with addiction when he was in high school.

“One of the reasons we really wanted David to come to the conference is because there are a lot of families who reach out to us and they don’t know what to do. They don’t know where to find help, they don’t know anyone else who has struggled with this issue.”

Burgum also spoke about a new initiative put in place last year where people could be trained as peer support specialists. So far over 470 people are trained across the state and can make a living off of this work. Burgum said that the peer support specialists are an important community-led option for people reaching out for help since North Dakota is so rural.

A Recovery Talk phone line has also been created with peer support specialists answering the phone 24/7. Burgum said that the peer support services are covered under Medicaid in North Dakota which helps those specialists get paid and also helps people get covered for the services they’re receiving.

“That is a very big growing movement in our state that has become very successful,” Burgum said when talking about the progress made from last year.

When asked what her team is currently working on, Burgum said that she and Gov. Burgum are running for reelection which is what she is mainly focusing on. Burgum mentioned that if they are reelected, she has thought about starting a podcast to help get the message out.

As far as the attention Recovery Reinvented receives on a national level, Burgum said that they are connected to a lot of national groups through social media which helps get the word out. The keynote speakers also help with the national recognition of the event.

With this year’s conference being held virtually, Burgum thinks there will be a bigger turnout mentioning that as of last week, there were over 1,400 people registered which is more than there would be in-person. “I would encourage all college leaders to participate or anyone who’s struggling with issues right now, behavioral health or addiction.”

Recovery Reinvented is free for the public and will be held from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Oct. 28. To register, go to

Leave a Reply