I would like to start my IOGT blog off with a personal policy of mine: to begin any speaking or writing endeavor with at least a brief introduction. I am Julie Dostal, wife, aunt, dog mom (I promise not to post pictures of my dog… yet), sister, niece, runner, hiker, kayaker, photographer, musician, teacher, trainer, Psychologist, and woman in long term recovery. Although it is probably my recovery that brought me to the field of addiction, it is likely the other parts of my life that kept me here.

I have worked on all sides of the addiction and mental health continuum, including crisis intervention at the local hospital. Although I was sure my work at the crisis service was important, it seemed that there must be something that might help people to never have to experience such circumstances in the first place. Would I rather assist someone who is in crisis, or would I want to help create a world where a trip to the crisis center might not ever be required? Intervention was rewarding, but prevention called to me.

In 20+ years of prevention experience, I watched a variety of theories and models of prevention come and go. I will spare you the “Brief History of American Prevention” and share with you the type of prevention I currently find myself most often engaged in. The bang-for-your-buck, life-impacting, norm-changing interventions are related to smart policy work and consistent enforcement.

To be honest, I resisted policy work with all of my strength. I’m a practitioner, an administrator and an educator. I like working in the community with people. I am at the top of my game when I am teaching a class or leading a workshop. The first time that I was asked to speak to an elected official, I didn’t think I was going to sleep for a week. And when the day came, I couldn’t believe that I was walking through the halls of our hallowed Capitol. A wave of gratitude washed over me when I discovered that I could easily stay toward the back of the group and simply watch the interactions.

You’ll be happy to know that I am no longer a shrinking flower when it comes to speaking with lawmakers. Over the years, I have learned many important lessons from the skilled and talented people who have gone before me into the world of policy. I owe them much.

My most recent testimony to the New York State Senate can be found at about 1:41.

 

Through my blogs you will see my mention of “Big P” policy and “small p” policy. As a local practitioner as well as a National representative, I have had to learn to work on both levels. Local, policy is often as important as state or national policy. And, with that, I am off to work on a “small p” project that has put my agency in charge of a local festival drawing 15,000 people to an event that has been transformed to include zero alcohol sales, zero alcohol sponsorships, and zero alcohol advertisements. It’s a good day to be in prevention.

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