Advocating for a Recovery-Ready Nation
Uniting for the greater good
In its mission to change the way substance use and recovery are understood and embraced, Faces & Voices of Recovery is working to organize a rising cultural and political movement of people in recovery and build a national network of substance use treatment and recovery support resources. At the heart of this vital work, you will find Keegan Wicks, National Advocacy and Outreach Manager, providing hands-on leadership in the realm of policy, advocacy, and community organizing.
A day in the life of Keegan Wicks can look like trying to bridge the gap between policy, advocacy, and community organizing. Wicks leads public policy and advocacy initiatives for Faces & Voices of Recovery – including all aspects of recovery systems, infrastructure, and outreach to policymakers at the state level and on Capitol Hill. Any given day could include intimate discussions with stakeholder groups in various cities across the country to provide insight into ways that they could strengthen their current systems of care. “One of the most challenging things we run into is that recovery-based organizations don’t often know that one another exists,” said Wicks. “It’s considered a failing simply because our field hasn’t had the chance to become as structurally developed as some others. Being able to bring stakeholder groups to the table so that they have an opportunity to meet one another has been extremely helpful – so that they are aware of the resources available in their given communities.”
“I’m fortunate to lead the organization’s policy and advocacy initiatives. What that looks like, because we’re kind of a smaller organization, can vary greatly from day-to-day interactions,” Wicks explained. “Whether that involves working to enact a particular piece of legislation that would benefit recovery support services, or helping draft a piece of legislation, or working with members of Congress to try to get additional sponsorship for the bill or spreading general awareness about it. Some days it’s writing calls-to-action to be able to make the broader public knowledgeable while simultaneously trying to urge additional members of Congress to participate in an important bill.”
Building a case for sustainable recovery
Wicks observes that there continues to be hesitation when it comes to talking about substance use recovery in open settings. “Now that’s changed dramatically over the last decade, but I would say that tone still exists,” Wicks commented. “One of our closest counterparts, the mental health field, has had substantially more time to develop beyond what the recovery movement has.” Wicks went on to explain that the field of substance use recovery is still relatively new. “For whatever reason, there’s been this challenge in trying to shift societal beliefs that when we’re talking about people with addiction, the goal is really to have long-term sustainable care. People often are only thinking in terms of acute care and crisis intervention.”
I am a Face & Voice of Recovery
Keegan Wicks, Faces & Voices National Advocacy and Outreach Manager
I was an adolescent when I was diagnosed with substance use disorder, and I had no real understanding of what that meant. I had no concept of what the treatment process should look like. I was in high school when I went into treatment, and I was terrified. My family, at the time, were my primary caretakers and while they were very supportive, this was all brand-new territory for all of us. Through that journey, I was able to get treatment for myself in a long-term setting. As I began to gain remission and regain wellness, there started to be advocacy and community gatherings kind of related to addiction around me. I started to get invited to these events. A lot of the access and these opportunities for advocacy and outreach became available through that journey. My parents also had a strong desire to effect change in the community themselves – from their unique perspective as family members.
Eventually I started to get involved with some of the more central advocacy-related events across the United States – like Faces & Voices Hill Day that convenes on an annual basis and the Recovery Leadership Summit that’s conducted annually. I’ve always had an underlying passion for engaging in some type of systemic change. Today, I work to change the recovery landscape. Because of Faces & Voices of Recovery, I work to make recovery more accessible.
Outreach for inroads in recovery
Wicks described outreach as, “Finding and building new relationships to make what we’re setting out to do possible, versus just continuing conversation in our own immediate space.” Wicks is always thinking about establishing solid relationships with everyone – from law enforcement to court systems to community-based organizations to faith-based entities to hospital networks and the like. He describes community centers and recovery community organizations as important hubs for providing ongoing support services and effecting much-needed change. “They’re the ones that are often taking on that grassroots work – from service delivery through peer providers to providing training and education to their local community through town halls, or just promoting general awareness,” Wicks elaborated. “These are the organizations that advocate for the structural changes that need to take place in our local communities. They are working to remove the barriers that prevent people from getting the care that they need – whether it’s easy access to quality treatment, supportive housing, transportation, vocational training, peer support, workplace assistance, or childcare.”
Guiding the movement
In January, Faces & Voices introduced a set of priority areas of focus for this congressional term – with the concept of building a Recovery-Ready nation. “It sounds kind of big and ambiguous, but the idea that addressing substance use is something that’s far more than providing access to treating substance use,” Wicks said. “It’s also the services that are supportive that people need to be able to have access to after treatment.” This set of Recovery-Ready priorities creates a foundation for sustainable, long-term recovery by addressing issues like transportation insecurity and fair housing. Expanding and promoting recovery support services establishes a strong foundation for people nationwide – not only in densely populated areas, but in rural counties and in telehealth settings. “We have a roadmap that we’re hoping serves as a basis to effect Recovery-Ready change,” Wicks added.
Faces & Voices of Recovery was founded by a group of recovery advocacy pioneers who believed in a world where the shame and stigma of addiction no longer exists. They believed in a world where a lifetime of recovery and wellness was within everyone’s reach. This vision is the cornerstone of the work we do every day.
Join your friends, neighbors, and business associates in supporting our mission to make long-term recovery possible for millions of Americans. Please consider a generous gift to help sustain our work in the coming years.