Peers Speak Out! – Faces & Voices and Community Catalyst Project’s Data is In

Peers Speak Out!

Hello Everyone!

As many of you know, Faces & Voices of Recovery has been partnering with Community Catalysts and the American Society of Addiction Medicine to identify the results of treatment and recovery services most important to individuals with substance use challenges or in recovery, and learn whether those priorities change during COVID-19.

More than 20 million Americans have substance use disorders, and during COVID-19, overdose deaths are increasing and demand for treatment is higher. We need more effective and equitable addiction services that meet peoples’ individual goals and needs.

We encourage you to share these findings with your networks and incorporate into your advocacy these recommendations for advances in research and treatment to help achieve the outcomes identified.

What we found:
  • Overall, people prioritized survival and improving their quality of life and placed less priority on completely stopping all drug and alcohol use.
  • As a result of treatment and recovery services they also want improved mental health, to be able to meet their basic needs, increase self-confidence, and connect to ongoing services.
  • Based on our engagement of 882 individuals with lived experience of substance use disorders across the country, through an online survey, focus groups and a National Peer Council, the outcomes from treatment and recovery support services that matter most to individuals are:
    • Staying alive
    • Improving quality of life
    • Reducing harmful substance use
    • Improving mental health
    • Meeting basic needs
    • Increasing self-confidence/self-efficacy
    • Increasing connection to services and supports pandemic, improving mental health replaced stopping all drug/alcohol use as a top priority.  
  • During COVID-19, the majority of respondents want the same top results as they did prior to the pandemic. For the 20 percent of people who prioritized different outcomes during COVID-19, quality of life became less important while connection to recovery support services, and taking care of basic needs, became more important
  • Our study also found differences in priority outcomes across race and gender. In addition, addiction continues to be criminalized, especially among Black and brown communities. It is essential to improve cultural effectiveness of services, and address systemic racism.
    • For example, 25 percent of white respondents selected “stop all drug and alcohol use” as a top priority compared to 13 percent of multiracial respondents.
    • Also, 59 percent of transgender/nonbinary respondents selected “stay alive” as a priority outcome compared to 26 percent of women.

Our Recommendations:

  • Policymakers should increase funding for a full continuum of services, including peer recovery support, and boost harm reduction programs that keep people alive, such as overdose prevention and syringe services.
  • Service providers should clarify each individual’s treatment and recovery goals and adjust services to meet those goals. Mental health supports should be fully integrated.
  • Researchers should investigate which services best achieve the outcomes patients want. They should also stratify this research by race/ethnicity and gender to inform solutions that address systemic inequities.
Contact the project team with questions
Phone: 617-275-2945