Our History

We are working to eliminate barriers to recovery for every American, every family and to help today’s children and future generations, who often are the biggest winners in the process of recovery.

Our History

Faces & Voices of Recovery was founded in 2001 at the Alliance Project’s Faces & Voices of Recovery Summit in St. Paul, Minnesota. The Summit was the culmination of more than two years of work to provide focus for a growing advocacy force among people in recovery from addiction to alcohol and other drugs, their families, friends and allies. For too long those most affected by alcohol and other drug problems had been absent from the public policy debate. As a result of the Summit, a Core Positioning Statement was adopted, laying out the principles for a national campaign and a 22-member Campaign Advisory Committee was elected to provide leadership to the campaign.

“We will shape the future of recovery with a detached silence or with a passionate voice.” – Bill White (2001)

Since then, the addiction recovery movement has exploded – in the US and around the globe.

Throughout the US, recovery advocates had been hard at work on local and statewide campaigns. In 2003, Faces & Voices of Recovery elected a 13-member Campaign Steering Committee to streamline and revitalize its work and make it more responsive to the recovery community. In 2004, Faces & Voices of Recovery was incorporated and received IRS designation as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation. In 2005, a 21-member Board of Directors, including 13 regional representatives, was elected to advise and direct the campaign.

The Recovery Bill of Rights was released in 2008 as Faces & Voices took on new successful campaigns, including ending insurance discrimination facing people with addiction. Faces & Voices was instrumental in the passage of the Paul Wellstone and Pete Domenici Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act (MHPAEA) – a federal law that generally prevents group health plans and health insurance issuers that provide mental health or substance use disorder (MH/SUD) benefits from imposing less favorable benefit limitations on those benefits than on medical/surgical benefits. Also in 2008, Faces & Voices hosted Wellness Recovery Rooms at the Democratic and Republican Conventions in Denver, CO and Minneapolis, MN.

In 2009, the Science of Addiction and Recovery, funded by the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA), became the first of many signature trainings for the recovery community to educate the public about addiction and recovery. Since 2010, the groundbreaking Our Stories Have Power recovery community messaging training has been used by tens of thousands of advocates to sharpen their skills as recovery communicators and deliver strategic messages in the media, to policymakers, and to the general public.

In 2010 Faces & Voices released the report, Addiction Recovery Peer Service Roles: Recovery Management in Health Reform, as a seminal document that propelled the movement towards funding for Peer Recovery Support Services in the addiction space. In 2011, with a growing membership of over 25,000 individuals and organizations, Faces & Voices celebrated its 10th anniversary and the Board released the first in a series of Public Policy Position papers on Criminal Justice Recovery Advocacy and Discrimination. In 2012, the Association of Recovery Community Organizations (ARCO) was created to unite the growing network of grassroots, non-profit recovery community organizations across the nation. In 2013, the Council on Accreditation of Peer Recovery Support Services (CAPRSS) was launched to promote national standards for the provision of Peer Recovery Support Services.

In 2015, Faces & Voices organized a campaign to pass the Comprehensive Addiction & Recovery Act (CARA), which was signed into law on July 22, 2016. In 2018, the Substance Use Disorder Prevention that Promotes Opioid Recovery and Treatment for Patients and Communities Act passed, which expanded access to treatment and created new opportunities for recovery support providers. Faces & Voices launched the Recovery Data Platform (RDP) in 2018 as the only cloud-based data collection tool collecting recovery capital outcomes for peer recovery support providers across the nation. Then, in 2019, a growing need for training and technical assistance led and delivered by people with lived experience led to establishing the National Recovery Institute (NRI), our peer-run training and technical assistance center.

In 2020 we began our journey into exploring the role of the organized recovery movement, including Faces & Voices of Recovery, in contributing to racial inequities that have harmed Black, Indigenous and People of Color. Our deep dive into courageous conversations led to producing the Anti-Racism in Recovery North Star Document with several other National recovery-focused organizations in 2021.

Although our organization has changed quite a bit over the years, one thing remains unchanged: our commitment to fighting stigma by putting a face and a voice on recovery. Times have changed. The recovery community is unifying around key priorities – to gain needed resources and to end discrimination against people in recovery. We are working to eliminate barriers to recovery for every American, every family and to help today’s children and future generations, who often are the biggest winners in the process of recovery.