Arthur C. Evans Honored for Addiction Recovery Work

arthur-evansFound this excellent article in the Philadelphia Tribune. Well done Arthur and and his colleagues who have helped make his Award possible. What they have achieved in Philadelphia in terms of developing a recovery-based care system is an example to us all.

‘Arthur C. Evans, Ph.D. Philadelphia Commissioner of the Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual disAbility Services (DBHIDS) has been recognized for his strides in promoting recovery from addiction.

Faces & Voices of Recovery honored Evans with the Lisa Mojer-Torres Award at the America Honors Recovery event held on June 26 in Washington, D.C. America Honors Recovery highlights the extraordinary contributions of the country’s most influential recovery community leaders and organizations and is sponsored with Caron Treatment Centers.

Evans regarded being recognized by the country’s leading addiction recovery advocacy organization as a great honor.

“One of the things that is going on in the field right now is a reframing of how we think about service delivery for addiction and mental health treatment. Systems around the country are really trying to basically reengineer to incorporate their philosophy around how they approach treatment and I think that the award recognizes that Philadelphia has been able to embrace and incorporate those changes in the system,” said Evans.

The Lisa Mojer-Torres Award is given in honor of a tenacious fighter who believed in the dignity and rights of every person.

“We are pleased to recognize the exceptional energy, commitment, dedication and creativity of Dr. Evans in serving people seeking and in recovery from addiction in Philadelphia and across the nation,” Dona Dmitrovic, Faces & Voices board chair said in a release.

“He has led the transformation of Philadelphia’s system of care for people with addiction to one that focuses on recovery. His leadership inspires others to value change, listen and learn from people in or seeking recovery, and develop communities and institutions that embrace recovery.”

DBHIDS is a $1 billion department that provides services through a network of mental health and intellectual disability agencies to more than 120,000 people.

Evans, who was appointed commissioner in 2004, said the Department of Behavioral Health has incorporated a philosophy of recovery, with the understanding that addiction is a chronic condition and people need support and services over a much longer period of time.

“Most service systems might connect people to a detox or an inpatient residential treatment and then there is no support in following up,” he said.
Evans says most models of addiction treatment have been akin to how doctors fix a broken leg, where the patient comes in, receives treatment and is discharged.

“That works for a broken leg, that doesn’t work so much for addiction. There are a whole series of things that have to happen after treatment and we’ve been able to build those things into the service system in Philadelphia, which means that people are going to have a much better chance of sustaining long term recovery,” he pointed out.

Evans says another change that has been made to Philadelphia mental health system is incorporating the latest evidence- based practices.

“There is a lot of research that says what works and what doesn’t work. In most areas of medicine and most areas of healthcare, people are not practicing the state of the art, usually people are practicing 10 to 15 years behind what the science says works. In Philadelphia what we’ve done is we’ve incorporated those practices on a large scale that have the strongest scientific evidence,” he said.

“The thing that I’m the most proud of in the work here is that we’ve given voice to people in recovery and people in the community. What that means is we’re incorporated opportunities for people who are recovering to be a part of the decision making about how the system works and about putting a public face on recovery.”

Evans highlighted the growth of the Philadelphia Recovery Walk which is billed as the country’s largest walk held in support of addiction recovery. The annual event, which is hosted by grassroots organization PRO-ACT (Pennsylvania Recovery Organization — Achieving Community Together), went from having only 100 supporters in its inception, to drawing a crowd of 18,000 last year.

“I think it’s kind of indicative in terms of the momentum that we’ve been able to build in the advocacy community,” he says of the walk’s success.

Evans is a clinical and community psychologist. He holds a faculty appointment at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. Prior to coming to Philadelphia, Evans was the deputy commissioner for the Connecticut Department of Mental Health & Addiction Services (DMHAS). In this capacity, he led several major strategic initiatives for the Connecticut behavioral healthcare system. Evans was instrumental in implementing a recovery-oriented policy framework, addressing health care disparities and increasing the use of evidence-based practices.

He joins other Faces & Voices of Recovery award recipients including: Kristen Johnson, award winning-actress and author; Tom Coderre, chief of staff for the Rhode Island State Senate and the board chair of Rhode Island Communities for Addiction Recovery Efforts (RICARES); Andre Johnson, CEO of the Detroit Recovery Project; Scott Strode, founder and executive director of Phoenix Multisport in Denver, Colo., and executive director, Gretchen Burns Bergman on behalf of A New PATH (Parents for Addiction Treatment & Healing) based in San Diego, Calif.

The award recipients and Faces & Voices of Recovery-supported recovery community organizations nationwide have launched local and state campaigns to support people in or seeking recovery from addiction and their families.