Fighting Addiction Requires Strong Partnerships Across Systems

Jen Sather / Photo courtesy MN DHS

Substance use disorder is treatable, and recovery is possible. But it is rarely achieved alone. That’s why the Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS) is committed to strengthening Minnesota’s treatment system – so that everyone has access to the right kind of support, when and where they need it.

My name is Jen Sather and late last year I started in a newly created position at the department: Director of substance use disorder (SUD) services. In this role, I provide direction for substance use disorder clinical and treatment policy, and I manage state and federal funds dedicated to addressing substance use prevention, treatment, and recovery.

Substance use disorder affects those living with it throughout their entire lifetime and we need to treat it accordingly.To provide effective direction, I need to know what is working, what isn’t working, and what we can do better as a state to support people living with substance use disorder. I’m excited for the increased collaboration between DHS and the entire SUD community that this new role can bring. My hope is to engage in direct partnerships. I look forward to getting out into the community to meet with those providing services and those receiving services. In this role I commit to listening more and talking less.

In addition to enhanced collaboration, I am also enthusiastic about tackling many important issues facing the SUD treatment community. I plan to use the information and recommendations identified at the upcoming SUD Summit to map out my action plan for 2023 and beyond. We know that some top issues to focus on in the coming year will be the opioid epidemic, staffing shortages, and paperwork reduction.

A little bit about my background: I am a Licensed Alcohol and Drug Counselor, and prior to taking this position, I was a supervisor in the Behavioral Health Division for work related to the 1115 SUD System Reform Demonstration waiver. I’ve also been a compliance officer for treatment facilities, and a program director for residential and outpatient behavioral health programs. I am passionate about this work because I have always wanted to be of help in my community. I recognize that in order to be of help to others we must improve our system of care and ensure that those who need services are able to receive what they need, when they need it and in a way that works best for them. Substance use disorder affects those living with it throughout their entire lifetime and we need to treat it accordingly.

I am honored to serve in this new position and excited to start building much-needed partnerships. Together, we can more effectively empower Minnesotans on their road to recovery.

Jen Sather is the director of substance use disorder services at the Minnesota Department of Human Services’ Behavioral Health Division.

Last Updated on January 9, 2023

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