5 Major Drug Use Policy and Advocacy Groups

Advocacy groups are important to the mission we all share: to save lives through recovery. These groups are making incredible progress to increase public awareness and improve policies. Advocacy groups often stem from personal tragedies.

1.     Shatterproof: Stronger Than Addiction

  • Slogan: Prevention works. Treatment is effective. Recovery is possible for everyone.
  • About Shatterproof: Shatterproof was started by Gary Mendell, a father who lost his son Brian to the disease of addiction in 2011. Gary says, “Research exists that could have saved Brian and countless others like him. But is not being implemented throughout communities and healthcare system.” Shatterproof has organized the Substance Use Disorder Treatment Task Force, whose mission is “to fundamentally improve substance use disorder treatment in the United States, in terms of both quality and patient outcomes.
  • Shatterproof is a family-based organization that educates and unites families. Their stories can be found at their website. They also share information, advocate for policy change and raise funds.
  • Upcoming events: Rise Up Against Addiction 5k runs will be held in the following locations in 2017: Kansas City, Boston, New York City, Atlanta, and Washington D.C.

2.     Drug Policy Alliance

  • Mission: To advance those policies and attitudes that best reduce the harms of both drug use and drug prohibition, and to promote the sovereignty of individuals over their minds and bodies.
  • About: The Drug Policy Alliance (DPA) is one of the nation’s leading advocacy groups promoting drug policies that are grounded in science, compassion, health and human rights. Our supporters are individuals who believe the war on drugs is doing more harm than good. Together we advance policies that reduce the harms of both drug use and drug prohibition, and seek solutions that promote safety while upholding the sovereignty of individuals over their own minds and bodies. We work to ensure that our nation’s drug policies no longer arrest, incarcerate, disenfranchise and otherwise harm millions – particularly young people and people of color who are disproportionately affected by the war on drugs.
  • DPA is actively involved in the legislative processes in many states. Their current issues of focus include: reform of marijuana laws, Good Samaritan Laws, race and drug use, needle exchange programs and many others.
  • Upcoming events: 2017 International Drug Policy Reform Conference in Atlanta, GA. October 11-14, 2017.

3.     To Write Love on Her Arms

  • Vision: The vision is that community, hope, and help would replace secrets and silence.
  • About: To Write Love on Her Arms (TWLOHA) is a nonprofit movement dedicated to presenting hope and finding help for people struggling with depression, addiction, self-injury, and suicide. TWLOHA exists to encourage, inform, inspire, and invest directly into treatment and recovery.
  • TWLOHA is a support community that raises funds and organizes charity donations that are aimed to engage communities and connect individuals to the help they deserve.
  • Events: TWLOHA is backed by Warped Tour, an annual nation-wide concert series held in the summer.


4.     The Brent Shapiro Foundation

  • Goal: Our goal is to turn the fear, helplessness & grief caused by this disease into a powerful force of hope & healing.
  • About: Founded upon personal tragedy, it is our vision to conquer alcohol and drug dependence by turning the fear, grief and helplessness caused from this disease into awareness, compassion, and support. It is the mission of the Brent Shapiro Foundation for Alcohol and Drug Awareness to become the national leader in the fight against drug and alcohol dependence by:
    • Raising awareness through education
    • Removing the stigma and isolation associated with this disease by inviting everyone to join in a national dialogue
    • Providing support to parents on how to communicate with their children and with other parents about alcohol and drugs
    • Creating educational tools designed to help parents, teachers and communities to identify when necessary, to intervene with those as high-risk.
    • It is our belief that the solution lies in a new, different and fresh approach. We intend to use a simple model of educating parents, teachers, children and communities about this disease.
    • We believe that increasing awareness is the first step to change – change in the way this disease is viewed; change in the way it is identified and prevented; and change in the way people who have this disease are viewed by society.
  • This organization was started by Robert and Linell Shapiro in honor of their son Brent who passed away in 2005 from addiction. Partnering with the Variety Boys and Girls Club, the Brent Shapiro Foundation seeks to educate, advocate, and support youth and parents.
  • Upcoming Events: Summer Spectacular Under the Stars. September 9. Hollywood, CA.

5.     Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation Institute for Recovery Advocacy

  • Getting involved in the fight against addiction and for recovery.
  • Mission: Provide a trusted national voice on all issues related to addiction prevention, treatment and recovery and to facilitate conversation among those in recovery, those still suffering and society at large. We are committed to smashing stigma, shaping public policy and educating people everywhere about the problems of addiction and the promise of recovery.
  • About: The advocacy institute’s top priorities are expanding access to addiction care, public education, and dismantling the stigma associated with addiction. This is another of the advocacy groups which work aggressively to reform drug policies that will address the nation’s opioid addiction crisis. They also have a page called “In The Know” where users can track drug policies in their area by entering their zip code.