La Hacienda's Treatment and Recovery Blog

Three at Capital | La Hacienda

Advocates for State and National Laws to Benefit Persons Seeking Recovery

NAADAC and La Hacienda both at the forefront of the fight.

What is NAADAC?

NAADAC, the Association for Addiction Professionals, is a representative for professional interests of more than 100,000 addiction counselors, educators and other addiction-focused health care professionals in the United States, Canada and abroad.

The Association for Addiction Professionals (NAADAC) consists of a menu of educators, addiction counselors, and other healthcare professionals who specialize in addiction treatment, prevention, counseling, recovery support and education. They are in charge of creating healthier people, families and communities through prevention, intervention, and quality treatment. Their main role is to develop a field of professional counselors with professional qualifications and backgrounds for people and their family members.

La Hacienda’s Efforts

La Hacienda Treatment Center is a drug and alcohol addiction rehab that provides therapy to individuals and their families who are looking for addiction help. Our health care providers offer the best care and a healing environment for all of our patients. This is key to the help and resources provided on our Hunt campus and at our Austin and College Station intensive outpatient programs for drugs and alcohol. But our commitment goes further to these communities, individuals and families.

Working with other addiction professionals in treating a person with a drug and alcohol substance use disorders (SUDs), our efforts extend to the capitol buildings in Austin and Washington, D.C. La Hacienda staff advocate there for state and national laws that benefit individuals and adults seeking drug and alcohol addiction help.

If you or someone you know have questions in regard to our program, please contact us. We are happy to take referrals and we do our best to help all those looking for help. Our role is to assist anyone who is looking for assistance in getting better from an addiction.

Sherri Layton and Art VanDivier Work on Policies

Three at Capital | La Hacienda
La Hacienda staff at the Capitol for NAATP Hill Day 2019. From left; Director of Clinical Services Janet Blackburn; Director of Outpatient Service & Public Policy Sherri Layton; and Board Member Frost Readel.

At the forefront of our advocacy efforts are Director of Outpatient Service and Public Policy Sherri Layton and Executive Director Art VanDivier. Involved in advocacy work for 15 years, Layton helps train and lead others at both the state and national levels.

In addition, VanDivier has been a leader in service at the national level since 2004, working with other substance use rehab center directors to establish high standards of care and ethical operation.

Advocating for Treatment for Substance Use Disorders

Each state will determine much of what impacts SUD treatment, but policies and overall funding often originate at the federal level, said Layton.

“There is a difference in the types of things to advocate for with each. Both are important.” For example, the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act enacted by Congress in 2008 requires insurance coverage for mental health conditions and counseling, including SUDs, to be no more restrictive than insurance coverage for other medical conditions.

But Congress delegated enforcement to the states. Now advocates seek tighter implementation while encouraging Congress also to do more toward that end. “We advocated for passage of the law and have had to continue advocating for enhanced enforcement at both levels.”

NAADAC Led Initial Efforts

Advocacy efforts primarily come through two national and one state organization. The Association for Addiction Professionals (NAADAC) was founded in 1972 to develop licensed counselors with professional qualifications and backgrounds. Now, NAADAC also promotes excellence in care by advocating for the highest quality and most up-to-date, science-based services for clients, families, and communities. It helps provide education, clinical training, and certification.

The association represents the professional interests of more than 100,000 addiction counselors, educators, and other addiction-focused healthcare professionals in the United States, Canada, and abroad. La Hacienda’s Layton has served on NAADAC’s Public Policy Committee since 2008 and is currently its co-chair. NAADAC named her its Legislative Advocate of the Year for 2014.

Landmark Victory in 2016

After more than a total of four decades of lobbying service, those seeking legislation to support addiction treatment achieved their first significant victory in July 2016 with the signing of the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act in response to the opioid use crisis in the United States.

The bill, introduced by Senator Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island and Representative Jim Sensenbrenner of Wisconsin, authorized more than $181 million to respond to the opioid abuse epidemic. It was intended to increase both prevention service programs and the availability of treatment programs significantly. NAADAC viewed its publications “as a significant first legislative step to fight the opioid epidemic and strengthen prevention, and treatment efforts.”

Annual Training and Meeting with Lawmakers

Each year since 1989, NAADAC has hosted an Advocacy in Action Conference and Hill Day in Washington, DC, to train advocates from across the nation and set up meetings with elected federal representatives in the capitol. Before each conference, NAADAC’s Public Policy Committee establishes an agenda of issues and legislation of interest for that session of Congress.

For the most recent Hill Day in April 2021, the advocates—meeting with officials via Internet or phone because of the pandemic—focused on:

  • Recognizing the contributions of the addiction workforce
  • Supporting loan reimbursement for addiction treatment professionals
  • Supporting investments in SUD treatment and recovery services
  • Strengthening enforcement of federal parity law

TAAP at the State Level

The Texas Association of Addiction Professionals (TAAP), the state affiliate of NAADAC, does advocacy at the state level. Through legislative initiatives, promotional campaigns, continuing education, and professional networking opportunities, TAAP promotes awareness of SUD issues. A top priority is support for the prevention, intervention, and treatment of drug and alcohol substance use disorders and alcoholism.

Years when the biennial Texas Legislature is in session, TAAP hosts an ABCs of Advocacy training event in the fall before the session starts in January. A Recovery Day visit to the state capitol follows in the spring. Recovery People and The Association of Substance Abuse Programs co-sponsor the event with TAAP. Layton, the current TAAP President and a TAAP member since 1983, is active in planning and presenting its advocacy programs.

“Sherri has taught us many lessons on how to step up and be good advocates,” said TAAP Board Member Frank Davis when the association inducted Layton into its Hall of Fame in 2018. “To me, that’s one of the most important things we can do. It’s how we get more services for our clients.”

Providers’ Association Also Involved

Art, Marvin and John | La Hacienda
Outgoing NTAAP Board Chairman Art VanDivier with NTAAP CEO Marvin Ventrell and incoming NTAAP Board Chairman John Driscoll. VanDivier is Executive Director of La Hacienda Treatment Center. May 2019.

Owners, organizations and management of treatment centers coordinate their advocacy efforts through the National Association of Addiction Treatment Providers (NAATP). Founded in 1978, its mission is to provide leadership, advocacy, training, and member support services in communities to ensure the availability and highest quality of addiction treatment. NAATP held its first training of members for advocacy in the nation’s capital in May 2019.

Its Political Action Committee works to achieve policy improvements through involvement with lawmakers. It also has a full-time Director of Public Policy and an Advocacy Officer. With the start of a new presidential administration in January, NAATP CEO Marvin Ventrell sent President Joe Biden a list of 21 priorities on behalf of the treatment providers. They included public policy changes that will improve access to care, including numerous ways to implement enforcement of the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act.

A Powerful Force in the Industry

La Hacienda Treatment Center’s VanDivier, a NAATP board member since 2004 and its Chairman for 2017-2019, is a strong believer in what it accomplishes.

“The national association has become a powerful force in the industry, and I love being a part of that,” he said. “NAATP, through its published code of ethics and support of legislation that puts a stop to deceptive marketing practices, provides those with substance use disorder an opportunity to find professional assistance. Being a part of that is very satisfying.”

Getting Help

For questions, resources or more information on our programs to treat addiction, please reach out to the staff at La Hacienda Treatment Center. We would be happy to set up a time to discuss our program and provide information to you or your family members.