Media Contact for Vertava Health:

Brian Sullivan

Director of Public Relations


Vertava Health

5211 Maryland Way, Suite 1080 | Brentwood, TN 37027

P: 901.949.7926 Hotline: 888.614.2251

Media Contact for FED UP! Rally:

Judy Rummler


[email protected]



WASHINGTON, D.C. – (Sunday, September 18,  2016) – Nationwide Behavioral Health provider Vertava Health will join thousands in Washington, D.C. to rally for a federal response to the opioid epidemic Sunday, September 18 at 1pm EST. Headquartered in Nashville, Tennessee, the group has a network of resources for those battling mental health and addiction issues.


“Opiate overdose continues to be a major public health problem in the United States,” says Vertava Health Market Director Susan Citro, MSW. “It has contributed significantly to accidental deaths among those who use, misuse or abuse illicit and prescription opioids. It is the responsibility of treatment organizations across the country to join in solidarity to hold our government accountable for a larger response to this nationwide epidemic that’s killing nearly 200 people a day in the United States.”


The 2016 FED UP! Rally and March to the White House will take place at the Sylvan Theater on the Washington Monument grounds in Washington, D.C. in a call for immediate, coordinated and comprehensive federal action to end the epidemic of opioid addiction and overdose deaths.


Just this Friday, President Obama declared September 18-24, 2016 as National Prescription Opioid and Heroin Epidemic Awareness Week. Throughout the week, the White House will host parents affected by the epidemic. Attorney General Lynch and other Justice Department officials, as well as U.S. Attorney’s Offices across the country, will participate in over 160 different events.


Following the rally today, Vertava Health will also join FedUp! Monday, September 19 on Capitol Hill to meet with lawmakers in the House and Senate.


2016 FED UP! Coalition Platform

Together, we must find new ways to prevent opioid addiction to ensure access to effective opioid addiction treatment and to reduce opioid overdose deaths. To those ends, we – the FED UP! Coalition to End the Opioid Epidemic – call on our federal government to take the following actions:


  1. Take all measures necessary to ensure that opioids and other controlled drugs are prescribed more cautiously.
  2. FDA should take the following actions:
    • Prohibit marketing of opioids for conditions where risks outweigh benefits.
    • Consult its advisory committee before approving any new opioids.
    • Add an upper dose and a suggested duration of use on opioid labels.
    • Designate naloxone an over-the-counter drug.
    • Ensure that abuse-deterrent opioid formulations are NOT marketed as less addictive.
  3. DEA should mandate prescriber education, free of industry bias, for all registrants who intend to prescribe more than a 3-day supply of opioids.
  4. HHS should immediately reduce barriers to buprenorphine treatment.
  5. Increase funding for evidence-based addiction treatment, especially in communities hit hardest by the epidemic.
  6. CDC and SAMHSA should improve public health surveillance of opioid addiction and overdose deaths.
  7. Incentivize states to mandate prescriber use of Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs.


Program of Events

FED UP! Rally at the Sylvan Theater on the Washington Monument Grounds

Sunday, September 18, 2016

12:45-1pm – Music by Elizabeth Edwards

1pm program:

  • Welcome and Introductory Remarks
    • Judy Rummler – Chair, FED UP! Coalition and Founder, Steve Rummler Hope Foundation
    • April Rovero – Chari, Rally Steering Committee and Executive Director, National Coalition Against Prescription Drug Abuse
  • The TAM Quilt – displayed by Barbara Theodosiou – Founder, The Addict’s Mom
  • Remembering our Lost Loved ONes – A Moment of Silence followed by Amazing Grace performed by Elizabeth Edwards
  • SPECIAL GUEST: Michael Botticelli – National Drug Control Policy Director at the White House
  • Andrew Kolodny, MD – Executive Director, Physicians for Responsible Opioid Prescribing (PROP)
  • Don Flattery – Virginia Governor’s Task Force on Prescription Drug and Heroin Abuse and FED UP! Coalition Advocacy Chair
  • Michael DeLeon – Founder, Steered Straight, Inc.
  • Michael King – Director of Outreach & Engagement, Facing Addiction, Inc.
  • Justin Luke Riley – President and CEO, Young People in Recovery (YPR) and Andrew Burki, Board Member, Young People in Recovery (YPR)
  • Reflections and Music by Elizabeth Edwards
  • Chief Leonard Campanello – Chief of Police, Gloucester, Massachusetts
  • John Rosenthal – Co-Founder, Police Assisted Addiction and Recovery Initiative (PAARI)
  • Jeremiah Gardner – Manager of Public Affairs and Advocacy, Hazelden Betty Ford Institute for Recovery Advocacy
  • Nicole Yehezkel – person in recovery from Dynamic Youth Community
  • Gary Mendell – Founder, Shatterproof
  • Chris Johnson, MD – Board Member, Steve Rummler Hope Foundation and Physicians for Responsible Prescribing (PROP)
  • Teri Kroll – Coordinator, PUSH – Long Island

2:30pm – March to Capitol Hill

4pm – Closing Ceremony at John Marshall Park

Note: Other special guests have been invited to speak and may be in attendance as their schedules permit.


FED UP! Hill Day

Monday, September 19, 2016

An educational briefing on Capitol Hill in Rayburn House Office Building (HOB Rm B-339) from 8:30am to 10:30am – followed by visits to members of Congress.


The Problem

  • Despite increasing public awareness of the nation’s prescription opioid and heroin addiction epidemic, addiction rates and deaths continue to worsen. Tragically, nearly 30,000 people are dying each year from opioid overdoses. This translates to 78 lives lost each day.
  • There is a massive treatment gap across the country for those with substance use disorders. More than 23 million people in the United States have a substance use disorder, but only one in ten are receiving any kind of meaningful treatment.
  • Effective care, including access to programs that provide medication-assisted treatment, remains elusive for many patients. People need comprehensive treatment to support long-term recovery.
  • States simply do not have the financial resources to provide needed treatment for those who need it. States need funding now to close the treatment gap and ensure people with opioid use disorders get the help they desperately need.

The Solution

  • Last year, the FED UP! Coalition demanded the Executive Branch step up and address this national public health crisis – to speak out – to change policy and to fund needed solutions.
  • The Administration responded by putting forward a budget request of $1.1 billion in new funding, including $1 billion in new mandatory funding over two years to expand access to treatment for prescription drug abuse and heroin use.
  • Congress has yet to act on the Administration’s request.
  • While Congress passed the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA), CARA only authorizes funding. It did not actually provide any funding and there was no mandatory funding included in the bill. In fact, when it comes to funding, CARA was a hollow gesture.
  • We have come together as a country before to tackle health crises such as Swine Flu and Ebola with funding far greater than what has been proposed for this public health threat.
  • We cannot allow continued suffering and death until the next budget cycle occurs or until the Congress passes regular spending bills. Congress needs to provide robust new mandatory funding now to expand treatment access. Every day treatment funding is delayed means more lost lives.
  • When it comes to addressing what the CDC has described as the nation’s worst addiction epidemic in our history, we can not allow annual appropriations debates and conflicts to prevent meaningful and reliable robust funding. We need mandatory funding NOW.
  • America’s suffering families and our lost loved ones deserve no less.



On July 22, the President reluctantly signed into law the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA), the only opioid addiction fighting measure to make it out of the legislative branch in the current session of Congress. The CARA bill modestly expands federal efforts to address abuse, increase access to live-saving naloxone, attempts to encourage alternatives to incarceration for drug offenses, and expands access to buprenorphine for those seeking medical assistance.


While the FED UP Coalition of advocates recognizes the importance of legislative action, the CARA bill falls far short of what is needed from our federal government to stem the tide of the worst drug addiction epidemic in our nation’s history. FED UP has identified a number of serious deficiencies in the legislation which we demand Congress re-address.


Serious Underfunding – Particularly Treatment Support

  • The executive branch of the government responded to FED UP’s call last year for decisive action by developing a serious funding proposal for $1.1B which included $920M directed to expand treatment access. Shamefully, the legislative branch failed us by rejecting that request – led by members opposed to any new forms of spending despite their acknowledgement that citizens in all corners of the country are impacted by this public health crisis.
  • Two different emergency funding proposals of at least $600M to provide minimal funding have been dismissed by the current Congress.
  • Some of the same members of Congress who voted for CARA rejected emergency funding that would have provided treatment support NOW – dismissing the notion that the opioid addiction crisis which took over 29,500 lives last year is something other than a national emergency.
  • Early congressional support for CARA activities initially suggested $181M be authorized with less than $25M dedicated to support evidence-based treatment. Sadly, Congress provided zero funding – money to support the CARA legislation, if any at all, will now be determined in the ongoing appropriations process.
  • With only one in ten people with SUD receiving any form of treatment, one of the most serious needs in combating the epidemic has tragically been left unaddressed.
  • As the President said in a recent press release, “Every day that passes without Congressional action to provide these additional resources is a missed opportunity to get treatment to those who want it, help prevent overdoses and support communities across the country impacted by this epidemic.”
  • The FED UP Coalition agrees – advocates must demand that Congress do their job and pass a real budget with adequate mandatory funding provided.


Continued Focus on Abuse Avoids the Need to Address Overprescribing of Opioid Drugs

  • The bill falls short of “Comprehensive”. It is a melding of a hodgepodge of House bills with the Senate-passed CARA bill that largely focus on “abuse” rather than on an equally important component of the addiction epidemic – unnecessary overprescription of opioids that are flooding our communities, workplaces, schools and medicine cabinets with opioid drugs.
  • Without a focus on overprescription, the CARA legislation misses half of the driver of the addiction crisis.
  • Nothing in the bill addresses the need for the FDA to be more transparent, less influenced by industry claims and more careful in review and approval of any new opioid drugs.


Powerful Industry Interests Have Influenced the Final Bill

  • While we fight to get every dollar possible to provide much needed treatment funding, the bill includes Medicaid rebate to pharmaceutical companies for Abuse Deterrent Formulations (ADFs) of opioids. ADFs are just as highly addictive as regular formulations and the pharmaceutical companies do not need additional financial incentives from the federal government to produce their products.
  • The bill also includes, yet again, another task force to examine pain management issues with representatives from pain organizations funded by the pharmaceutical industry. Any attempt by industry to create a backdoor process to undermine the CDC’s voluntary opioid prescribing guidelines is unacceptable. The prescribing guidelines will save lives and must be protected.
  • Those seeking to protect industry interests have opposed measures to ensure interstate operability and mandatory use of Prescription Data Monitoring Programs. PDMPs have proven to be an effective tool for practitioners to monitor and appropriately prescribe opioids. Nothing in CARA supports mandatory use of this government funded tool.


Other events of note taking place during National Prescription Opioid and Heroin Epidemic Awareness Week:

Monday, September 19

  • National Drug Control Policy Director Michael Botticelli and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack will host a roundtable conversation in the White House with parents from across the country whose family members have been affected by the prescription opioid and heroin epidemic. Press inquiries should be directed to [email protected]
  • Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates will visit a Bureau of Prisons (BOP) Community Treatment Services program in Washington, DC. The Community Treatment Program is the final stage of BOP’s Residential Drug Abuse Program, as the individuals completing their sentences transition through Residential Reentry Centers. This visit will highlight BOPs efforts to provide treatment to individuals with substance use disorders. Press inquiries should be directed to the Office of Public Affairs at [email protected].
  • Acting Bureau of Prisons Director Thomas Kane will meet participants in a Residential Drug Abuse Program at the Federal Correctional Institution in Cumberland, MD. Press inquiries should be directed to the DOJ Press office at [email protected].
  • The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farm Service Agency and Rural Development offices in key affected states will be hosting forums to bring together government officials, medical professionals, law enforcement, and other stakeholders to raise awareness of the issue, forge partnerships, identify possible solutions and highlight the need for more treatment resources in rural communities. The first two will be held September 19 in Tolland, Connecticut, and September 20 in Brighton, Colorado. Press inquiries should be directed to [email protected]


Tuesday, September 20, 2016

  • Attorney General Loretta Lynch will travel to Lexington, Kentucky, to hold a student town hall at a high school, meet with parents who have lost their children to overdose, and then close the day at the University of Kentucky for a policy speech on how the Administration is addressing the epidemic through prevention, enforcement and treatment. Press inquiries should be directed to the Office of Public Affairs at [email protected].
  • Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces Director Bruce Ohr will travel to New Mexico to hold meetings with the leaders of three communities in the Espanola Valley. During his visit, he will talk with tribal leaders to discuss federal assistance to address the epidemic in Indian Country and best practices for first responders to carry naloxone. Press inquiries should be directed to the Office of Public Affairs at [email protected].
  • Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert McDonald, Principal Associate Attorney General Bill Baer, and National Drug Control Policy Director Michael Botticelli will participate in a roundtable discussion on the Administration’s efforts to assist our nation’s veterans suffering from opioid use disorder. Press inquiries should be directed to the Office of Public Affairs at [email protected].


Thursday, September 22, 2016

  • Director Botticelli will speak at the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials Annual Meeting in Minneapolis on the important role that public health leaders must play in addressing the epidemic. Press inquiries should be directed to [email protected].
  • Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) Director Ron Davis will hold an event on federal support for targeted enforcement strategies at the Indianapolis State Police Headquarters. Press inquiries should be directed to the Office of Public Affairs at [email protected]


For more information on Vertava Health, log onto

For more information on the FedUp! Rally, log onto

If you would like to schedule an interview with a representative from Vertava Health, contact Director of Public Relations Brian Sullivan directly at 901.949.7926 or [email protected]

If you would like to schedule an interview with a representative from the FedUp! Rally and Movement, contact Judy Rummler directly at 612.865.1754 or [email protected].

If you know someone battling a mental health, alcohol or substance abuse issue in need of assistance, you can call the Vertava Health hotline 24/7 at 1.888.614.2251 or log onto




Vertava Health provides the most comprehensive addiction treatment program in the country by going beyond the standard 30 day plan and treating persons struggling with addiction mentally and spiritually to break the cycle of repeated visits to treatment. Utilizing our addiction campus environment we have the depth of caring staff, industry experience and clinical proficiency to effectively treat the disease of addiction for life. Vertava Health’ admissions center is trained to assess and place the client into one of the Vertava Health treatment centers across the country within a 1 hour time frame. This speed in service delivery and thorough commitment to the client long term allows the person struggling with addiction to get quickly on the road to recovery and create a life that’s worth living.




We are families who have been ripped apart by opioids. We have lost loved ones to death or addiction. We are medical experts and advocates who understand that the root cause of the problem is overprescribing.  This is a grassroots coalition, all seeking action from the federal government to bring this public health crisis to an end.. We accept no money from pharmaceutical companies or their affiliates and 100% of the donations we receive are directly applied to managing the costs of holding our Fed Up! Rallies. We are beholden to no one – except our lost loved ones, or our family members struggling with addiction. We have come together to save lives.




Susan Citro joins Vertava Health’ Business Development team as a new Market Director based out of Maryland. Susan brings to the table over 10 years of experience working with a variety of populations including alcohol and substance disorders. After owning her own business for over 20 years, she continues to give back to her community and mentor young, at risk girls ages 8-17. Susan’s certifications and achievements include a Mental Health certificate in EAP, Substance Abuse Counseling and ASIST Suicide Counseling. She also sits on various boards including Northern Lights Against Substance Abuse (NLASA Chair), Anne Arundel Community College (AACC) Accreditation Board, and is a Military Suicide Trainer. Susan says working in the field of social work has given her a great amount of experience, as she has witnessed the need of substance abuse and treatment, and it is her desire to be a part of the healing process. In her free time, Susan spends time with her four adult children and two grandchildren. She also enjoys running, traveling and volunteering, and says meditation is her daily habit.


Call Vertava Health now!