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White House is Honoring Cleveland's Anita Bradley as a "Champion of Change"

photo of Anita Bradley

The White House this week will recognize 10 "Champions of Change.” And one of them is the executive director of a Cleveland drug and alcohol abuse treatment center.

Anita Bradley founded the Northern Ohio Recovery Association 12 years ago. After a struggle with addiction in college, she got clean 25 years ago and obtained a master’s degree in social work. Now, the Northern Ohio Recovery Association employs more than 60 people and has recovery homes throughout the state.

With the recent spike in opioid and heroin overdoses, Bradley says she wanted to get ahead of the addiction and put intervention in place for people who use prescription medications.

After individuals go through treatment, her agency has recovery houses available to create a bridging environment, which Bradley says is crucial for people struggling with addiction.

“I think that the relapse rates go down if we can slowly integrate them back into society within a year. As opposed to someone who leaves a treatment program in 90 days, sometimes the relapse happens because they’re not quite ready.”

She also says the recovery houses help with job skills, workforce training or those wanting to head back to school.

God's plan
Bradley was excited when she learned about the White House honor, even though she adds that she does not do the work for the recognition.  She says the greatest reward is seeing people turn their lives around and go back into society.  

Bradley says running NORA is where God wanted her, since she originally wanted to work in corrections.  She now says that the philosophy of corrections is different than what her organization is trying to do when it comes to drug and alcohol offenders.

“If we can prevent it, and catch it early and correct those behaviors, [then] they can avoid the penal institutions. I think that it's overpopulated. People who are addicted -- even if we house them for many, many years [but don't] treat them and educate them cognitively, they are going to re-offend at some point.”

Looking ahead
Bradley says her next goal is to open a new facility in Cleveland Heights, where she grew up and to attract more volunteers to work with the Northern Ohio Recovery Association.

She’ll be recognized by President Obama on Friday, as part of the White House’s effort to stem opioid and heroin abuse. In addition to the award, Bradley will participate in a panel discussion in Washington, D.C. on opioid abuse.

Kabir Bhatia is a senior reporter for Ideastream Public Media's arts & culture team.