Addiction and Recovery Director Jeremy Drucker begins his tenure under the office of the governor. His goal is to make an impact on the state’s efforts to stem the rising cases of overdoses and offer resources throughout Minnesota to help those in recovery. We wanted to know a little more about Drucker and what he hopes to achieve in his new role.
Could you briefly introduce yourself, including how your friends and family might depict you, and what propels and motivates you?
My name is Jeremy Drucker, I am a person in recovery. I have worked in public affairs, both inside and outside of government for over 15 years. Previously I was training to be an English Literature professor at the City University of New York and worked in restaurants for a dozen years.
I think my friends and family would say that I treat people respectfully, that I am easy to get along with and reliable and have a bit of an irreverent sense of humor. I am motivated by a strong commitment to seeing that I leave everything I get involved with in a better place than it was before.
What were your initial thoughts upon being offered the Director position at the Office of Addiction/Recovery? What influenced your decision to take on this role?
This was probably the only job that would have drawn me back into state government. The opportunity to work on something I care so deeply about from a position like this doesn’t come along very often, if ever, and I really felt like I couldn’t pass it up.
Given your public openness about your long-term recovery, how do you anticipate this will shape your approach to your responsibilities?
I think my recovery brings to this position a very clear sense that people can and do recover, especially when they have access to the resources to do so. My approach is really focused on how we increase recovery for more people and in more places. There are more than twenty million people in recovery across the country, and while we oftentimes focus on the people with substance use disorder who are not in recovery, it’s important to remember all the people that are. Looking at what works is just as important as looking at what doesn’t, so focusing on how we can help people achieve and maintain momentum in their recovery is something I try to do.
Given your recent start in your current role, how do you envision your office making an impact on the state’s addiction and recovery landscape?
This office can play a really important role in helping to coordinate and align the different agencies in state government that deal with substance use. In the recovery community there is a saying that “connection is the opposite of addiction,” and that is the approach I bring to this work. Building connections between people, communities, disciplines, state agencies, governments. That is really important. Because when people and organizations are connected, they start to work better together, and I believe that is a big part in how we help close the gaps in what is oftentimes a very fragmented substance use and recovery system.
What’s your response to those who argue that your office adds unnecessary government expenditure?
The social, familial, and economic cost of substance use is massive. By working better together, reducing deaths, and increasing recovery, we will save not only lives and emotional devastation, but also a significant amount of dollars as well.
What are your primary aspirations and objectives during your tenure as Director?
We want to create a recovery-oriented system of care for all Minnesotans that provides accessible, quality, and culturally responsive services across the substance use continuum.
Last legislative session we made a lot of strides towards that by investing over $200 million in new dollars in substance use disorder, one of the biggest investments in the state’s history. Those investments crossed the entire continuum of care from prevention, harm reduction, treatment, and recovery. Making sure we are implementing those dollars in a way that maximizes their effectiveness is a top priority in addition to building the infrastructure of the office.
How can readers and fellow Minnesotans support individuals in recovery or those seeking recovery?
One of the big things we can all do is reduce stigma. The stigma around substance use disorder is still so huge. We’ve made progress over the last several years but too many people still treat substance use as a moral failing and not the disease that it is. Even those of us in recovery often still stigmatize ourselves.
That stigma permeates our entire system and prevents people from getting the help they need or treated in the way you would be treated if you had a different illness. It took until 2008 just for mental health and substance use to be given legal parity with physical health, and we still have a really long way to go.
Is there anything else you’d like to share or any resources you recommend to our readers?
Just to reiterate that people can and do recover. There are many pathways to recovery, and there are resources available no matter who you are or where you are at in your recovery journey. If you or someone you know is struggling, reach out. No one should suffer in silence. Getting the help we need, when we need it isn’t weakness, but a sign of strength. Some good resources are:
- Minnesota Recovery Connection
- Steve Rummler Hope Network
- Minnesota Department of Health Recovery Resources
We want to thank Jeremy Drucker for his time in responding to our questions and wish him all the best in his new role with the State of Minnesota.
Last Updated on September 5, 2023