Addiction Science Center earns state award

JOHNSON CITY (Nov. 10, 2022) – The Addiction Science Center at East Tennessee State University received the Advocate of Peer Recovery Service-Agency Award from the Tennessee Certified Peer Recovery Specialist Program of the state Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services.

This award, presented at the virtual annual conference of Tennessee Certified Peer Recovery Specialists, is presented to the group or agency that has, over the past year, been at the forefront of advocating for peer recovery services that empower Tennesseans with a mental health and/ or substance use disorder. The entity receiving the award has championed the advancement of peer recovery services across the state of Tennessee and has done exceptional work in the peer service movement.

“This is an important recognition from the Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services,” said Dr. Randy Wykoff, dean of the ETSU College of Public Health. “Certified peer recovery specialists play an important role in assisting those with substance use disorders in recovery, because they have been there and are able to extend empathy and understanding to those they strive to help. We value the contributions of certified peer recovery specialists at our Addiction Science Center, and appreciate this recognition from the state for the work we accomplish together.”

The ETSU Addiction Science Center was nominated for this honor by its own Elizabeth Childress, a certified peer recovery specialist (CPRS) at the center.

Childress praised the Addiction Science Center for its work in assisting individuals in getting jobs who are considered “hard to hire” due to felonies or substance use disorders (SUDs) and for its work in securing grant funding to help individuals with SUDs.

She noted the center’s regional outreach through the Studies To Advance Recovery Support (STARS) Network, which involves researchers at multiple universities and health care systems focusing on the urgent need for research to advance recovery support services in Central Appalachia. In particular, she praised the work of Drs. Rob Pack and Angela Hagaman, co-directors of the Addiction Science Center, for their dedication to the work of the center and their appreciation for the work of CPRS professionals.

“ETSU’s Addiction Science Center consists of many different types of people, all with a common passion for peer work and an appreciation for what certified peer recovery specialists do,” Childress wrote. “ASC and the STARS Network are dedicated to the study of peers in the Appalachian region – what they do and how they contribute so much to recovery. (Hagaman) has supported me and been so loyal and understanding of what we do and why it’s so important, and is taking every avenue, especially STARS, to prove through research that what we do is special and life-altering.”

To learn more about ETSU’s Addiction Science Center, visit


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