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The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release

FACT SHEET: Obama Administration Honors Americans Leading Efforts to Stop the Prescription Opioid and Heroin Epidemic

Nearly 200 nursing schools and more than 50 pharmacy schools commit to prescriber training

Washington, DC—Today during an event at the White House, ten individuals from across the country will be honored as “White House Champions of Change” for their leadership in preventing prescription drug abuse and heroin use, increasing access to treatment, and supporting the millions of Americans in recovery. These individuals were chosen from more than 900 nominations. The event will feature remarks by White House Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett, Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia M. Burwell, and Director of National Drug Control Policy Michael Botticelli. U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy will host a discussion with Allison Janney, Emily Osment, and Chuck Lorre from the Warner Bros. Television-produced CBS comedy series Mom.

As part of today’s event, and in coordination with the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, 191 schools of nursing at the academic institutions listed below announced that beginning in fall 2016 they will require their advanced practice registered nursing students to take some form of prescriber education by the time they graduate, in line with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Guideline for Prescribing Opioids for Chronic Pain. Also today, the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy announced that 54 colleges and schools of pharmacy will educate all their students about life-saving overdose interventions, including how to counsel patients and others on the appropriate use of naloxone.

As detailed below, the Federal Mental Health and Substance Use Disorder Parity Task Force is holding its first meeting today to advance access to treatment and promote compliance with health coverage parity implementation. Tomorrow the Drug Enforcement Administration will hold its 11th National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day, providing a safe, convenient, and responsible way of disposing of unneeded prescription drugs — including opioids and other controlled substances — in communities across the country.  

To address the national prescription opioid and heroin overdose epidemic, the Administration has been working to expand the use of tools that are effective in reducing drug use and overdose. These include evidence-based prevention programs, prescriber education, prescription drug monitoring, safe drug disposal, medication-assisted treatment, and the overdose reversal drug naloxone.

Last month, President Obama joined nearly 2,000 individuals in recovery, family members, medical professionals, law enforcement officials, and other leaders at the National Rx Drug Abuse and Heroin Summit. There he announced new public and private sector actions and reiterated his call to Congress for $1.1 billion in new funding to help every American with an opioid use disorder who wants treatment get the help they need.  

The Champions of Change for Advancing Prevention, Treatment, and Recovery

Anita Bradley – Cleveland, Ohio
Anita Bradley is the founder and Executive Director of the Northern Ohio Recovery Association. She has been in recovery from a substance abuse disorder for over 25 years and understands the importance and magnitude of blending personal and professional knowledge to promote the power and possibility of recovery. Anita built a Peer-to-Peer training program offered at a local community college and opened the Next Step Recovery House, a residential recovery housing facility on Cleveland’s near west side. Anita also recently launched a Statewide Network for Addiction to respond to the opioid crisis and ensure that the voice for recovery from substance use disorders is included in planning and policy efforts in Ohio. Anita was named winner of the 2015 Women Who Excel Entrepreneur Award by Smart Business Magazine and is a recipient of the Joel Hernandez Community Recovery Award.

Leonard Campanello – Gloucester, Massachusetts
Leonard Campanello is the Chief of Police in Gloucester, Massachusetts. Chief Campanello has worked to end the stigma of addiction by adding law enforcement's voice to those suffering with substance use disorders. In May 2015, in response to the growing epidemic of opioid use disorders, he announced a policy change that allows those with substance use disorders to ask for help and treatment resources from the Gloucester Police Department by walking into the station, with or without drugs, and without being charged with a crime. The policy also provided free naloxone (the opioid overdose reversal drug) for anyone in need. In the 10 months since it began, the Gloucester Program reports that it has brought 425 people directly to treatment with no criminal penalty and no solicitation of information, and has reduced crime and costs associated with substance use disorders in Gloucester and rebuilt the trust between the police and the community. The policy’s success led to the creation of the Police Assisted Addiction and Recovery Initiative, which facilitates the proliferation of the Gloucester Program to over 100 communities in 22 States and partnerships with 250 treatment centers and growing.

Leslie Hayes – Española, New Mexico
Leslie Hayes, MD, works for El Centro Family Health in Espanola, New Mexico, as a family practitioner. El Centro Family Health is a community health center with clinics located throughout northern New Mexico – a rural, underserved area. While Dr. Hayes enjoys all aspects of family medicine, her particular passion is taking care of people with opioid use disorders. She works with pregnant women and new mothers who have substance use disorders to make sure that they and their babies receive compassionate and appropriate medical care. Leslie received much of her training in substance use disorders through Project ECHO, a program that uses telecommunication to link specialists with primary care providers. Leslie considers herself extremely fortunate to have been able to give back to Project ECHO, and she now provides training for other providers around the State of New Mexico in substance use disorder and use of the medication-assisted treatment buprenorphine.

Tom Hedrick – New York, New York
Tom Hedrick is one of the founding members of the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids (“the Partnership”). Since its founding, the Partnership has focused on delivering evidence-based prevention communication messages through the media, becoming the largest single-issue public service communications program in America during a period of dramatic reductions in substance use among adolescents. Tom helped expand the program to include evidence-based resources and support for parents and caregivers in prevention, intervention, treatment, and recovery through a web-based platform and a toll-free Helpline. With Tom’s help, the Partnership is piloting a peer support program to recruit and train experienced parents and caregivers to coach other parents and caregivers who have discovered that their kids have a substance use disorder. The coaching has been integrated with the online resources and the Helpline into a national Parent Support Network.

Andre Johnson – Detroit, Michigan
Andre Johnson is the founder, President, and CEO of the Detroit Recovery Project (DRP), a recovery community organization providing peer-led, peer-run, and peer-driven services in Detroit. Andre has been in long-term recovery from a substance use disorder for nearly 28 years. Over the past ten years, Andre has secured over $15 million dollars in Federal, county, State, and local grants for DRP to provide quality prevention, treatment, and recovery services. Andre was appointed by the U.S. Secretary of Health & Human Services to serve on the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration/Center for Substance Abuse Treatment National Advisory Council. He also sits on the board of the College for Behavioral Health Leadership. 

Shawn Lang – Hartford, Connecticut
Shawn M. Lang is the Deputy Director of AIDS Connecticut (ACT). Shawn has been with ACT since 1991, where she coordinates HIV/AIDS public policy activities on the State and Federal levels, including chairing the AIDS LIFE Campaign, Connecticut’s AIDS policy group. Shawn also oversees ACT’s care and treatment programs, prevention programs, and member services, and provides a variety of trainings and presentations.  She is on the board of the National AIDS Housing Coalition and a member of the Community Advisory Board of the Center for Interdisciplinary Research on AIDS, and was recently appointed to the Connecticut Alcohol and Drug Policy Council. Since 2013, Shawn has chaired Connecticut’s Statewide Opiate Overdose Prevention Workgroup, which has engaged in an extensive advocacy campaign to increase awareness about and access to naloxone, a lifesaving medication that reverses opioid overdoses.  She has been a longstanding activist on issues impacting battered women, LGBT communities, homelessness, and HIV/AIDS.  She lives in Hartford with her 18-year-old son.

Julio Medina – Bronx, New York
Julio Medina is the founder and Executive Director of Exodus Transitional Community, a reentry program in East Harlem, Newburgh, Poughkeepsie, and Albany, New York. Julio spent twelve years in prison on drugs charges in the 1980s and 90s. As the Founder and Executive Director of Exodus Transitional Community, Julio addresses the widespread struggle of substance use disorders, often linked to incarceration and recidivism. Under Julio’s leadership, Exodus Transitional Community employs a holistic approach to substance use disorders with the aim of tackling all of the stages of addiction, including prevention, treatment, recovery, and relapse. Julio also works to promote effective local, State and Federal policies aimed at substance use disorders, while increasing access to services that support men, women, and their families.  Most recently, Julio was appointed by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo to serve on the Community Reentry and Reintegration Council, and by New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio to serve on the Alternatives to Incarceration Council.

Justin Phillips – Indianapolis, Indiana
Justin Phillips, MA is the Founder and Executive Director of Overdose Lifeline, Inc., an Indiana non-profit dedicated to reducing the stigma of addiction and preventing deaths resulting from opioid overdose. Justin started the nonprofit in 2014 following the loss of her 20-year-old son Aaron to a heroin overdose. Overdose Lifeline established a support network for families impacted by opioid use disorders and helps to purchase naloxone, an opioid reversal drug, for first-responders in the Indianapolis area. Justin also worked with Indiana legislators on a bill known as Aaron’s Law to expand access to naloxone prescriptions for others beyond first responders. Justin’s advocacy efforts were realized with the enactment of Aaron’s Law in April 2015, making it legal for naloxone to be made available in pharmacies across Indiana without a physician’s prescription. Overdose Lifeline has distributed over 300 naloxone overdose reversal kits to families and individuals and developed a prevention education program for the State of Indiana.

Justin Luke Riley – Denver, Colorado
Justin Luke Riley serves as president and CEO of Young People in Recovery (YPR), a national grassroots organization focused on peer-to-peer services for young people in, or seeking, recovery from substance use disorder. Riley is 28 years old and has been in long-term recovery from a substance use disorder since 2007. Under Justin’s leadership, YPR aims to improve access to treatment educational resources, employment opportunities, and housing that sustains young people in their recovery. With over 100 chapters nationwide, YPR empowers young people to get involved in their communities by providing them with the tools and support that will allow them to take charge of their futures. Justin graduated cum laude from the Honors & Leadership Program at the University of Colorado at Denver in 2013 and is currently seeking his Executive MBA at the University Colorado. He is a former organizational development consultant and a youth and community engagement pastor in Denver; former secretary of the board of Faces & Voices of Recovery in Washington, D.C.; and past president of the board of Advocates for Recovery in Denver.

Barbara Theodosiou – Davie, Florida
Barbara Theodosiou, upon learning that two of her sons had substance use disorders, founded The Addict’s Mom, a forum for mothers who were suffering the adversities that accompany addiction in a loved one. The Addict’s Mom offers both online and in-person support, education, resources and the opportunity for members to “Share Without Shame” their triumphs and tragedies as they hope that their loved one achieve recovery. Under Barbara’s leadership, The Addict’s Mom has reached 70,000 members who educate, advocate, and collaborate with lawmakers, community leaders, and experts in the field.

Hundreds of Schools Announce Safe Prescribing and Overdose Prevention Education Commitments

Today 191 schools of nursing at the following academic institutions announced that beginning in fall 2016 they will require their advanced practice registered nursing students to take some form of prescriber education by the time they graduate, in line with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Guideline for Prescribing Opioids for Chronic Pain:

  • Albany State University
  • Alcorn State University
  • Arizona State University
  • Ashland University
  • Auburn University
  • Augsburg College
  • Austin Peay State University
  • Belmont University
  • Binghamton University
  • Bradley University
  • Brandman University
  • Brenau University
  • California State University-Los Angeles
  • Carlow University
  • Case Western Reserve University
  • Catholic University of America
  • Clarke University
  • College of New Jersey, The
  • Colorado Christian University
  • Concordia University Wisconsin
  • Duke University
  • East Tennessee State University
  • Eastern Kentucky University
  • Eastern Michigan University
  • Elms College
  • Emory University
  • Fairfield University
  • Felician College
  • Florida Atlantic University
  • Florida Gulf Coast University
  • Florida International University
  • Francis Marion University
  • Frontier Nursing University
  • Gardner-Webb University
  • George Washington University
  • Georgia Baptist College of Nursing of Mercer University
  • Georgia College & State University
  • Augusta University
  • Georgia Southern University
  • Graceland University
  • Grand Canyon University
  • Gwynedd Mercy University
  • Hawaii Pacific University
  • Hofstra North Shore - LIJ
  • Idaho State University
  • Illinois State University
  • Indiana State University
  • Indiana University South Bend
  • Indiana University-Purdue University (Indianapolis)
  • Indiana Wesleyan University
  • James Madison University
  • Johns Hopkins University
  • Keiser University
  • Keuka College
  • La Salle University
  • Le Moyne College
  • Lehman College
  • Loma Linda University
  • Long Island University LIU Post
  • Louisiana State University Health Sciences Ctr
  • Lourdes University
  • Loyola University Chicago
  • Loyola University New Orleans
  • Marquette University
  • MCPHS University
  • Medical University of South Carolina
  • Metropolitan State University
  • MGH Institute of Health Professions
  • Michigan State University
  • Mississippi University for Women
  • Monmouth University
  • Moravian College
  • Mount Carmel College of Nursing
  • Mount Saint Mary College- New York
  • National University
  • Nebraska Methodist College
  • New York University
  • Northeastern University
  • Oakland University
  • Ohio State University, The
  • Old Dominion University
  • Oregon Health and Science University
  • Pace University
  • Pennsylvania State University
  • Prairie View A & M University
  • Quinnipiac University
  • Radford University
  • Regis College
  • Rhode Island College
  • Stockton University
  • Robert Morris University
  • Rush University
  • Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey
  • Saint Catherine University
  • Saint John Fisher College
  • Saint Mary's College- Indiana
  • Salem State University
  • Seattle Pacific University
  • Seton Hall University
  • Shepherd University
  • Simmons College
  • South Dakota State University
  • Southern Adventist University
  • Spalding University
  • SUNY Downstate Medical Center
  • SUNY Polytechnic Institute
  • Tennessee State University
  • Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi
  • Texas Christian University
  • Texas State University
  • Texas Woman's University
  • Thomas Jefferson University
  • Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences
  • Union University-Tennessee
  • United States University
  • University at Buffalo-SUNY
  • University of Alabama in Huntsville, The
  • University of Arizona
  • University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences
  • University of California-Davis
  • University of California-San Francisco
  • University of Central Missouri
  • University of Cincinnati
  • University of Colorado
  • University of Colorado Colorado Springs
  • University of Connecticut
  • University of Hawaii at Manoa
  • University of Houston
  • University of Illinois at Chicago
  • University of Indianapolis
  • University of Kentucky
  • University of Maine
  • University of Maryland
  • University of Massachusetts-Amherst
  • University of Massachusetts-Boston
  • University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth
  • University of Massachusetts-Lowell
  • University of Memphis
  • University of Michigan
  • University of Minnesota
  • University of Mississippi Medical Center
  • University of Missouri-Kansas City
  • University of Missouri-St. Louis
  • University of Nevada-Las Vegas
  • University of New Hampshire
  • University of New Mexico
  • University of North Carolina-Greensboro
  • University of North Dakota
  • University of North Florida
  • University of North Georgia
  • University of Northern Colorado
  • University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing
  • University of Phoenix
  • University of Pittsburgh
  • University of Portland
  • University of Rochester
  • University of Saint Joseph
  • University of San Francisco
  • University of South Carolina
  • University of South Florida
  • University of Southern California
  • University of Southern Indiana
  • University of Tampa
  • University of Tennessee Health Science Center
  • University of Texas Health Science Center-Houston
  • University of Texas Health Science Center-San Antonio
  • University of Texas Medical Branch
  • University of Texas Rio Grande Valley
  • University of Texas-Arlington
  • University of Texas-Tyler
  • University of Utah
  • University of Vermont
  • University of Wisconsin-Madison
  • University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh
  • University of Wyoming
  • Ursuline College
  • Virginia Commonwealth University
  • Viterbo University
  • Washburn University
  • Wayne State University
  • West Coast University
  • West Texas A&M University
  • West Virginia University
  • Wichita State University
  • Widener University
  • Wilkes University
  • Wilmington University
  • Winona State University
  • Winston-Salem State University
  • Wright State University
  • Youngstown State University

In addition, the American Association of College of Nursing, the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists, the American Association of Nurse Practitioners, the American College of Nurse-Midwives, the American Nurses Association, the National Association of Clinical Nurse Specialists, and the National Organization of Nurse Practitioner Faculties are launching a series of online trainings for faculty, students, and clinicians on the CDC Guideline.

The CDC Guideline provides recommendations for clinicians on appropriate prescribing, including determining if and when to start prescription opioids for chronic pain treatment; guidance on medication selection, dose, and duration, including when to discontinue medication, if needed; and guidance to help assess the benefits and risks and address the harms of prescription opioid use.

Also today, the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy announced that 54 colleges and schools of pharmacy will educate all their students about life-saving overdose interventions, including how to counsel patients and others on the appropriate use of naloxone. Following President Obama’s event in West Virginia last October, pharmacies in dozens of States are making naloxone available without needing an individual prescription.

  • Auburn University Harrison School of Pharmacy
  • Campbell University College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences
  • Cedarville University School of Pharmacy
  • Creighton University School of Pharmacy and Health Professions
  • Drake University College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences
  • Duquesne University School of Pharmacy
  • Fairleigh Dickinson University School of Pharmacy
  • Hampton University School of Pharmacy
  • Howard University College of Pharmacy
  • Husson University School of Pharmacy
  • Keck Graduate Institute School of Pharmacy
  • Lipscomb University College of Pharmacy
  • Manchester University College of Pharmacy
  • Marshall University School of Pharmacy
  • Mercer University College of Pharmacy
  • North Dakota State University School of Pharmacy
  • Northeast Ohio Medical EOMED
  • Nova Southeastern University College of Pharmacy
  • Pacific University Oregon School of Pharmacy
  • Purdue University College of Pharmacy
  • Regis University School of Pharmacy
  • Roosevelt University College of Pharmacy
  • Roseman University of Health Sciences College of Pharmacy
  • School of Pharmacy Boston, MCPHS University
  • South College School of Pharmacy, Tennessee
  • South Dakota State University College of Pharmacy
  • Southern Illinois University Edwardsville
  • Southwestern Oklahoma State University School of Pharmacy
  • St John’s College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences
  • Sullivan University College of Pharmacy
  • Thomas Jefferson University, Jefferson College of Pharmacy
  • Touro University California College of Pharmacy
  • University of Arizona College of Pharmacy
  • University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences College of Pharmacy
  • University of California San Fancisco School of Pharmacy
  • University of California, San Diego Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences
  • University of Charleston School of Pharmacy
  • University of Cincinnati James L. Winkle College of Pharmacy
  • University of Connecticut School of Pharmacy
  • University of Kentucky College of Pharmacy
  • University of Louisiana, Monroe School of Pharmacy
  • University of Maryland Eastern Shore School of Pharmacy
  • University of Michigan College of Pharmacy
  • University of Minnesota College of Pharmacy
  • University of Mississippi School of Pharmacy
  • University of Missouri- Kansas City School of Pharmacy
  • University of Nebraska Medical Center School of Pharmacy
  • University of Pittsburgh School of Pharmacy
  • University of Southern California School of Pharmacy
  • University of Washington School of Pharmacy
  • University of Wyoming School of Pharmacy
  • Virginia Commonwealth  University School of Pharmacy
  • Wayne State University Eugene Applebaum College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences
  • Western University of Health Sciences College of Pharmacy

Task Force Launched to Ensure Health Coverage Parity for Mental Health and Substance Use Disorders

In addition, the Federal Mental Health and Substance Use Disorder Parity Task Force is holding its first meeting today. The President established the Task Force last month to advance access to mental health and substance use disorder treatment and promote compliance with mental health and substance use disorder parity implementation.  Federal parity protections are intended to ensure that health plans’ coverage of mental health and substance use disorder benefits is comparable to their coverage of medical and surgical benefits.  

National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day

Tomorrow, the Drug Enforcement Administration will hold its 11th National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day, providing a safe, convenient, and responsible way of disposing of unneeded prescription drugs — including opioids and other controlled substances — in communities across the country.  More than 5.5 million pounds of medication have been collected over the last ten Take Back Days.  

Local communities are also establishing ongoing drug take-back programs, and to support these efforts, Walgreens is installing safe medication disposal kiosks in more than 500 drugstores across the country, primarily at locations open 24 hours.

Background on Administration Actions on Opioids

In October 2015, as part of his visit to West Virginia to discuss the prescription opioid abuse and heroin epidemic, the President announced a number of new public and private sector actions, including a Presidential Memorandum requiring Federal Departments to provide training on appropriate opioid prescribing to Federal health care professionals and requiring Departments to develop plans to address barriers to opioid use disorder treatment in Federal programs. Departments are ahead of schedule in fulfilling the President’s directive that Federal agencies ensure that all employees who prescribe these drugs are trained in appropriate opioid prescribing practices by 2017.  In addition, since the President’s Memorandum was released, Departments have taken numerous steps to expand access to opioid use disorder treatment, including medication-assisted treatment.

For example, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) recently issued a proposed rule to increase the current patient limit for qualified physicians who prescribe buprenorphine to treat opioid use disorders from 100 to 200 patients with the goal of expanding access to this evidence-based treatment while preventing diversion.  The proposed rule aims to increase access to medication-assisted treatment and behavioral health supports for thousands of people with opioid use disorders.   

HHS also released $94 million in new funding to 271 Community Health Centers across the country earlier this month to increase substance use disorder treatment services, with a specific focus on expanding medication-assisted treatment of opioid use disorders in underserved communities.  This funding is expected to help health centers treat nearly 124,000 new patients with substance use disorders.

Earlier this week, HHS issued new guidance to give as many as 96,000 Americans transitioning from incarceration back to their communities access to health care through Medicaid, including mental health and substance use disorder treatment. Historically, the vast majority of justice-involved individuals have been uninsured, and roughly half of incarcerated individuals struggle with mental health conditions and substance use disorder. Uninterrupted access to health care coverage can help lower health care costs, hospitalizations and emergency department visits, as well as the risk of re-incarceration.

These actions build on efforts that began in 2010 when the President released his first National Drug Control Strategy, which emphasized the need for action to address opioid use disorders and overdose while ensuring that individuals with pain receive safe, effective treatment.  In 2011, the White House released its national Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention Plan, which outlined goals for addressing prescription drug abuse and overdose.  

Since then, the Administration has supported and expanded efforts to prevent drug use, pursue “smart on crime” approaches to drug enforcement, improve prescribing practices for pain medication, increase access to treatment, work to reduce overdose deaths, and support the millions of Americans in recovery.


The Champions of Change program was created as an opportunity for the White House to feature individuals doing extraordinary things to empower and inspire members of their communities. The event will be streamed live on To learn more about the White House Champions of Change program, visit Follow the conversation at #WHchamps.