Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield Foundation Grant Supports Efforts to Address Substance Use Disorder in Northern Virginia

RESTON, Va.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--A new three-year grant provided by the Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield Foundation (Anthem) to the Chris Atwood Foundation will allow more individuals to seamlessly progress from treatment for substance use disorder, incarceration, or other high-risk transition points into a safe and supportive recovery housing environment. For the past nine years, the Foundation has worked to save lives from overdose and support recovery from substance use disorder.

"Substance use disorder is a major public health challenge that affects not only the health of individuals, but entire communities," said Dr. Anne Fedyszen, Behavioral Health Medical Director at Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield. "Virginia, like many states, is seeing an increased number of fatal overdoses each year. As part of our mission to improve lives and communities, we are proud to support the Chris Atwood Foundation in its efforts."

The Chris Atwood Foundation was created in 2013 after the Atwood family lost their son and brother, Chris, to an accidental overdose at age 21. Since then, they have offered free recovery support services, resources, and education to individuals in Northern Virginia and Washington, D.C. The $150,000 Anthem grant will support the organization's Revive to Thrive program and allow them to offer housing and peer support to 300 more individuals.

"All too often people get out of treatment or jail alone with nothing to their name, no next steps, and nowhere safe to go," said Ginny Atwood-Lovitt, Chris' sister and executive director of the Foundation. "They are forced to go right back into the unhealthy environment they were in during active addiction. Providing funding for a seamless linkage to safe housing is a game-changer in their recovery journey and no doubt saves many lives from the kind of tragedy my family experienced."

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Each quarter, the Foundation accepts scholarship applications from eligible individuals requesting to have their move-in deposit and first two weeks of rent covered in one of the regions recovery homes. For people who are newly sober and/or recently released from treatment or incarceration, access to stable sober housing is a critical component of maintaining recovery.

All individuals granted housing scholarships are also encouraged to enroll in the Chris Atwood Foundation's Peer Support Program. Certified Peer Support Specialists can assist the individual with recovery planning, basic housing supplies, overdose reversal kits, employment, and transportation. Establishing access to a safe, substance-free environment, and creating a customized plan through the Revive to Thrive continuum of care increases a member's recovery capital, according to The Chris Atwood Foundation.

This grant is part of the Elevance Health Foundation's (formerly Anthem Foundation) commitment of $13 million in grants this year to promote equity in mental health, particularly for people with substance use disorders. Elevance Health Foundation plans to invest up to $30 million over the next three years to make significant progress toward reducing substance use disorders and their health impacts.

The timing of the grant announcement could not have come at a better time. August 31 was recognized as International Overdose Awareness Day, a global event that aims to raise awareness that overdose death is preventable and to reduce the stigma associated with drug-related death. Also, September is recognized as National Recovery Month.

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"Overdose is the number one cause of accidental death in the United States," says Atwood-Lovitt. "It's also completely preventable. If we set judgements aside and support organizations that provide low-barrier, evidence-based care we can turn this crisis around. We're so grateful to Anthem for helping to do that."

About the Chris Atwood Foundation:

The Chris Atwood Foundation is a peer-driven community organization in Northern Virginia providing free harm reduction and recovery support services and advocacy for people impacted by substance use. The foundation's programming is designed and provided by individuals who are in recovery from substance use disorder. Its judgement-free, strengths-based, and accessible services include overdose reversal training and kits, peer recovery coaching, harm reduction supplies and counseling, and assistance with basic needs like recovery housing, employment, and transportation. The foundation has received reports of over 1,100 lives saved with its overdose reversal kits.

About Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield Foundation

The Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield Foundation, an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, works to address health equity by focusing on improving the health of the socially vulnerable through strategic partnerships and programs in our communities with an emphasis on maternal child health; mental health; and food as medicine. The Foundation also coordinates the company's year-round Dollars for Dollars program which provides a 100 percent match of associates' donations, as well as its Volunteer Time Off and Dollars for Doers community service programs. ®ANTHEM is a registered trademark of Anthem Insurance Companies, Inc. The Blue Cross and Blue Shield names and symbol are registered marks of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association.


Ginny Atwood Lovitt
The Chris Atwood Foundation

Denise Ward
Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield in Virginia
Filed Under: Business

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