Raising Our Umbrella

By Hunsicker, Ronald J. | Behavioral Healthcare, August 2007 | Go to article overview
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Raising Our Umbrella

Hunsicker, Ronald J., Behavioral Healthcare

It's time for our many associations to unite under an umbrella organization

In the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, the fourth definition of umbrella is "something which covers or embraces a broad range ol elements or factors ." An umbrella Organization, commonly referred to as a federation, confederation, or society, allows for diverse organizations under the umbrella to retain their individual identities; at the same time, the umbrella organization represents t he- diverse organizations on large- issues that impact them all.

There are numerous umbrella organizations, and identifying a few may help us crystallize our understanding, and perhaps use, of this concept. The Federation of International Üade Associations fosters international trade by strengthening the role of more than 4SO local, regional, and national associations throughout the United Slates, Mexico, and Canada. The Al- F-CIO is the largest federation of unions in the United States, made up of S5 national and international unions (including Canadian), together representing more than 10 million workers.

Another widely recognized umbrella organization is the International Olympic ( oininiitee, w Meli represents International Sports Federations (IFs), nongovernmental organizations administering one or several sports at the world Jeic-1 and encompassing organizations administering the spoils ai the national level. The IFs' statutes, practices, and activities must conform to the Olympic Charter, but each IF maintains its independence and autonomy in the administration of its sports.

These ex amples suggest that the whole often is much stronger than the sum of its parts. People who share a disease and their families have lormeil umbrella organizations, bui addiction treatment associations have- lagged behind in raising their umbrella. Rather than trying io figure out why this is the case, I challenge my col/cagne.' io seize the moment and commit energy and resources to create the "Federation ot Addiction ? real meni Provider Associations" or the "Society of Addiction Treatment Provider Associations" or some similar umbrella organization.

An umbrella organization would shelter us as we build comprehensive educational programs for persons delivering addiction treatment, develop complex public-policy programs and public awareness campaigns, and ensure that research on addiction and its treatment is conducted, distributed, and used. The time has come to raise our umbrella!

We have carved the held into our own special interest groups. The National Association of Addiction Treatment Providers (NAATP), the American Society ot Addiction Medicine, NAADAC, and the State- Associations of Addiction Services, to name a few, all represent some part of providing services to individuals with the disease of addiction!

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