recoveryblog: a blog for recovery advocates!

Our recovery advocacy blog is produced by individuals in recovery!  Here you will find commentary and personal discussions on different aspects of addiction recovery and advocacy.

More Recent Posts

The Recovery Exchange Principle

July 15, 2021
The first real-life Sherlock Holmes may well have been French criminologist Dr. Edmond Locard (1877-1966), whose 1910 seven-volume treatise on forensics laid the foundation for modern criminal investigation. Locard postulated an “exchange principle,” contending that any human contact with a person, place, or thing leaves physical traces of that encounter that can form the basis of criminal detection. I would like to suggest a parallel recovery exchange principleany interaction between an individual experiencing an alcohol or other drug (AOD) problem and an individual in recovery from such a problem produces trace effects on both parties. Where Locard’s focus was on physical trace evidence, my interest is primarily on psychological trace—the residual cognitive, emotional, and behavioral effects that result from interactions between wounded healers and those suffering from addiction. Below are some opening reflections on such interactions and their import for those involved in the provision of recovery support services Variability of Effects: When people experiencing AOD problems interact with people who once had but no longer have such problems, the residual effects from that interaction vary from minimal to moderate to transformative. Such variability of effect includes qualitative dimensions—from recovery attraction to recovery repulsion. In short, contact can exert a pull force towards and deeper into recovery or a push force away from recovery, depending a great deal on the degree of mutual identification. Amplification Effect: Positive effects are amplified through this process of mutual identification—experiencing someone like ourselves who mirrors key ingredients of personal identity (e.g., age, gender, race/ethnicity, sexual orientation, occupational identity, drug choice, etc.) and who models successful addiction recovery. Ecology of Recovery Contact: Place matters. Residual effects are amplified when contacts occur within an individual’s natural environment. Rather than having an individual leave their world to make contact with the recovery world, the goal is to bring recovery into their world. The positive effects of recovery contact are enhanced when they go beyond inspiring recovery to expanding recovery space within an individual’s natural environment. Cumulative Effect: Effects are amplified through incremental contact over time; early contact resulting in minimal effects may serve to prime or incubate subsequent contacts that elicit changes that are positive and permanent. Windows of Recovery Opportunity: Timing matters: Contact during a time of increased receptivity can result in a transformative exchange even when prior contacts have produced minimal effects. The goal is to inject recovery contact within these windows of opportunity. This involves bringing hope (and a recovery plan) at the exact time addiction-related pain is at its rawest and further addiction-related losses are imminent. Trace Elements: The influence of recovery contact is influenced in great part by what traces are left following the interaction. Such traces ideally include: *objects that draw one back to the interaction (e.g., cards, tokens, literature, music, art, food, clothing); *feelings (emotional memories of acceptance, respect, self-regard, connection); *ideas, words, metaphors, and stories that cast one’s problems in a new light, incite new possibilities, and invite participation in a community of recovery; and *an altered view of the future (residual feelings of hope and expectation). Reciprocal Effect: Effects are reciprocal, meaning that both parties are affected by the interaction, and efforts to measure the effects of recovery support services should include the effects on service recipients AND service providers. At the point of contact, the person currently experiencing an AOD problem and the person in recovery both occupy particular points on the addiction to recovery continuum. Ideally, contact results in the former and latter moving further along the recovery end of the continuum. In other words, the contact produces therapeutic effects for both. We should, however, be mindful that the opposite is possible and that contact could result in both individuals moving towards the addiction end of the continuum. Such mechanisms as screening, orientation, training, supervision, team delivery of recovery support services, and codes of ethical practice can minimize the risks of this latter outcome for both the person in need of recovery and the person delivering recovery support services. Any interaction between an individual experiencing an AOD problem and an individual in recovery from such a problem produces measurable and immeasurable effects. Our challenge is to assure the direction of such effects and assure the durability of their influence. How might we improve how we do this in the future?

Advocacy Intern

July 9, 2021

Faces & Voices of Recovery is seeking a dynamic person to assist in building and managing our advocacy strategy for 2023.

Interns must be available to work 10-14 hours per week. We are open to working with your university or college to establish credit. This is not a paid internship at this time.

Tasks and Responsibilities 

Advocacy Interns will assist Faces & Voices of Recovery’s Director of Recovery Innovation and the National Advocacy and Outreach Manager in carrying out the organization’s advocacy priorities and legislative agenda.

Position Duties and Responsibilities

  • Assist in policy scans, tracking, analysis, evaluation, and communication of relevant federal and state policy issues, legislation and regulations
  • Prepare advocacy effort summary reports for sharing with our grassroots and grasstops advocacy networks
  • Assist in developing Action Alert content, social media materials, and sign-on letter drafts
  • Support Faces & Voices staff in regard to federal, state, and local policy development, communications, and administrative duties as assigned
  • Additional responsibilities as assigned by the Advocacy staff


  • Excellent organizational, verbal, written, public speaking and interpersonal skills
  • Knowledge in computer programs, including excel
  • Ability to work under pressure and think quickly on your feet
  • Ability to work independently, as well as part of a team
  • Experience/interest in engaging and motivating a large group of volunteers a plus
  • Familiarity with and interest in substance use disorders, addiction recovery and healthcare issues a plus


  • Excellent writing and editing skills, and a keen attention to detail
  • Excellent written and oral communication skills; strong technical writing skills in English (Spanish language proficiency would be highly desirable)
  • Excellent computer skills; proficient in Microsoft Powerpoint and Word
  • Ability to show creative and flexible thinking
  • Strong time management skills
  • Strong attention to detail and desire to follow procedures


  • People with lived experience who have been involved with grassroots campaigns in the behavioral health, harm reduction, justice reform, multi-pathways of recovery, or LGBTQIA+ communities, are encouraged to apply.
  • Comfortable with social media advocacy
  • Have an introductory or higher understanding of the U.S. legislative system
  • Have worked remotely either as a student, volunteer, or employee for over 12 months

To Apply

Equal Opportunity Employer

We believe that diversity in experiences, perspectives, knowledge and ideas fuels creativity, broadens knowledge, and helps drive success. That’s why we’re proud to be an equal opportunity employer and strive to treat all employees with honesty, dignity and sensitivity. We welcome all qualified applicants regardless of recovery status, criminal justice history, race, color, national origin, ethnicity, religion, sex, pregnancy, sexual orientation, gender, gender expression or identity, age, disability, veteran status, marital status or any other legally protected class.


Recovery Mutual Aid Resources During the COVID-19 Pandemic

July 8, 2021

One of the recovery research scientists whose work I closely follow is Amy Krentzman, PhD. Dr. Krentzman is an Associate Professor at the School of Social Work at the University of Minnesota and specializes in the role of positive psychology within the process of addiction recovery, including studies on gratitude, forgiveness, and purpose in life within the stages of long-term recovery. In a recent paper, she explored the expansion of online recovery support services during the Covid-19 pandemic. My appreciation of that paper led to an invitation to Dr. Krentzman to share a blog highlighting the paper’s major themes. Below is that invited blog.

Bill White


Recovery Mutual Aid Resources during the Covid-19 Pandemic

Amy Krentzman, PhD

It was March 2020, two weeks into lockdown, when a journalist contacted me. Would I be willing to be interviewed on TV about recovery from addiction during the pandemic? I agreed. Face-to-face AA meetings had been shuttered and online meetings had begun to mushroom. I knew my interview would be short. I imagined talking about remote recovery resources on the TV. I knew I couldn’t say what I wanted to say, which was, “Everybody, grab a pen! Write down www-dot-virtual-dash-NA-dot-org.” Because I couldn’t spell out URLs to the viewing audience, I wanted to distribute a “handout” that viewers could explore on their own time. I thought that an electronic handout could work and created a website with links to remote resources to support addiction recovery during COVID-19. The journalist who interviewed me mentioned the website in her reporting and provided a link to it.

As I found more and more resources for the website, I was amazed by the innovation and creativity of the recovery community. There were formal public-facing resources such as the Alcoholics Anonymous remote meeting intergroup website which underwent a major upgrade during the pandemic, as well as resources that sprung up overnight and were shared among members, such as google spreadsheets listing thousands of meetings and a google folder listing remote meetings, conferences, and workshops.

I was afloat on a sea of information. I knew that providers and people in recovery would be interested in what I was finding. I knew I had done at least some of the digging for them. I gave a couple of webinars in April 2020 to spread the word and was amazed when 1,000 people signed up.

I used the webinar content as the basis for a written article and the result was published April 2021 as “Helping clients engage with remote mutual aid for addiction recovery during COVID-19 and beyond” in the journal Alcoholism Treatment Quarterly. The publisher of the journal, Taylor & Francis, allows free copies of the article to the first 50 people who click here.

My article describes how science could not move quickly enough to provide guidelines for accessing remote mutual aid during a pandemic. But two existing treasures could be leveraged: all of the research on mutual aid that predated the pandemic and the remote recovery resources rapidly growing in response to the pandemic. I summarized both in the article along with some suggestions that addiction treatment professionals could use to help their clients engage.

Other colleagues have worked quickly to publish articles on online recovery during the pandemic. Here are two examples by Brandon Bergman and colleagues:

Dr. Bergman’s first article describes the ways in which remote recovery support might work similarly to in-person mutual aid, describes beneficial outcomes of telehealth for addiction and how this might translate into benefits of remote mutual aid, and discusses drawbacks to remote mutual aid for special populations, such as individuals who wish to decrease but not eliminate substance use. The authors recommend that clinicians should refer clients to remote mutual aid with confidence during the pandemic because the benefits of participation outweigh any downsides.

Dr. Bergman’s second article describes how the use of remote mutual aid during the pandemic can help with barriers to treatment experienced before the pandemic. The article provides a conceptual model of how remote mutual aid can work to support recovery, a discussion of possible downsides of remote mutual aid, types of remote mutual aid, and an array of additional websites and services.

Now that the pandemic is winding to a close, the next challenge for some in recovery will be the transition back to in-person meetings. For some, this might be a disruption to what is now an established remote meeting routine. Some remote groups might fold as people return to meeting in person while other groups might continue in a hybrid–online and in person–format. These changes mean that the schedules, friendship circles, and meeting schedules of many may once again experience an upheaval, but this should be followed by a new period of stabilization.

Overall, the response from the recovery community to the pandemic was swift, nimble, and creative. Face-to-face meetings quickly converted to remote formats. Existing remote meetings welcomed throngs of new members. New York Intergroup, as one example, hosted meetings, compiled international meeting lists, and provided essential advice for making remote meetings safe. Ever-changing meeting lists and websites were kept up to date. Recovery community centers continued to answer their phones. Conferences and conventions shifted to Zoom. New friends were made the world over. People remained connected and newcomers were welcomed. All of these activities staved off isolation and loneliness, forged new bonds and connections, and helped people stay sober and sustained throughout the pandemic.

RDP Newsletter – June 2021

July 7, 2021

June 2021
Digital Newsletter

Mobile App Functionality!

Our My Recovery Journey mobile app is available to be activated on iPhone and Android phones for participants to record assessments, update their profile, or create an attendance log.  Now, your participants do not need a phone to access their My Recovery Journey.

We have launched a web portal for those participants!  Just activate a new participant to have access to the mobile app, and the email they receive has the web portal link.

Enhanced RDP!

If you haven’t switched over yet, what are you waiting for?

The new participant layout also includes fields like Personal Pronouns and easier navigation of records via a tab layout.

If you are tired of having to find the New TRS Log button, try the new layout today with Quick Actions available.

To enable this feature for your staff by Program simply edit your program layout to Enhanced RDP from Original RDP! This lets you take control of the new view and when you implement it!

Have questions please submit a ticket from the RDP Homepage.

The enhanced view really changed my thoughts and feelings about RDP. Originally I felt that the layout wasn’t very user friendly or functional. Now that we are using the enhanced view everything is so much easier to access. With the new features and layout I am able to quickly get to each function without having to scroll through the whole page to find what I am looking for. I used to spend more time trying to update participant records, completing engagement scales, and RC logs. Now I spend less time and feel really confident and comfortable using RDP while I am engaging with my participants. I am really happy with the changes that I have seen to RDP, and have seen all of the updates I was hoping to see to create a more user friendly space.

– RDP User & Peer Recovery Coach

Join us as we celebrate 20 years!

October 3-6, 2021
This year is Faces & Voices of Recovery’s 20th Anniversary!

The Recovery Leadership Summit brings together key leaders from Recovery Community Organizations (RCOs) across the nation for networking and learning opportunities.

Register Today!
Want to Join Faces & Voices?
Become a Member today!
Click Here

CAPRSS Newsletter – July 2021

July 6, 2021

July 2021
Digital Newsletter

Virtual Learning Community

Join us on July 14th from 12pm – 1pm EST for our CAPRSS Virtual Learning Community. This month we welcome Jessica Parnell, Executive Director of the CAPRSS Accredited Revive Recovery Resource Center in Nashua, NH, who will be presenting on the topic of Governance and Program Oversight.
Register Here!

Ethics for Peer Recovery Support
Service Programs

Peer recovery support service (PRSS) programs require an ethical framework for service delivery. In most cases, simply “importing” a professional code of ethics is not effective. There is a difference between the professional-client relationship and the relationship of the peer leader and the peer being served that warrants an ethical framework specifically tailored to PRSS. We have designed a tip sheet to support PRSS programs in the development of an Ethical Framework for Service Delivery.
View & Download Tip Sheet Here!

Upcoming Webinars

Accreditation 101 – August 6, 2021 – 12pm ET

Accreditation 101 is an introduction to accreditation course, where participants will learn the mission and purpose of CAPRSS, an overview of the standards and criteria, the steps in the accreditation process, establish resources for getting your organization accreditation ready, and for completing your application for accreditation candidacy.

Register Here

Accreditation 201 – July 16, 2021 – 12pm ET

Accreditation 201 is designed to: Identify the elements of the CAPRSS standards taxonomy and how they relate. Describe the core domains and standards, and discuss how peer reviewers – and PRSS programs – will use standards, criteria, and elements of performance in the accreditation process.

Register Here

Register now for Faces & Voices’
20th Anniversary Summit

This year marks the 20th Anniversary of Faces & Voices of Recovery. In 20 years, many things have changed in the Recovery Movement, but our dedication to the mission has never wavered. Through your ongoing support we have been able to connect and help Recovery Community Organizations around the world and continue to work to change the way addiction and recovery are understood and embraced through advocacy, education and leadership.

OCT 3 – 6, 2021 This Recovery Leadership Summit will be held over the course of four days and is filled with exceptional presentations, critical discussions and optional early morning and evening activities.

Register and learn more here!


We are here to support Peer Recovery Support Service programs achieve and succeed. If you have questions or would like to schedule a time to chat about CAPRSS, feel free to contact our Accreditation Services Coordinator, Nelson Spence, at

The Future of Secular Recovery

July 1, 2021

Addiction recovery unfolds within the larger context of personal beliefs—one’s view of self in relationship to the universe and the search for life meaning and purpose. Variations in personal beliefs are evident in religious, spiritual, and secular pathways/styles of addiction recovery, just as larger shifts in cultural values and practices influence recovery pathways.

A recently released Gallup poll of U.S. adults reveals a striking diminishment of religious orientation and practices. U.S. adults reporting church/synagogue/mosque membership fell below 50% for the first time since polling of such membership began in the 1930s. Overall, membership in a religious institution among U.S. adults has declined from 73% in 1937—two years following the founding of Alcoholics Anonymous—to 47% in the latest survey. U.S. adults reporting no religious preference has risen from 8% in 1998 to 21% in 2020, with a 20% drop in religious membership over this same period. These trends reflect larger cultural and generational shifts, with a progressive increase in secular orientation spanning baby boomers, Generation X, millennials, and Generation Z. These trends cross boundaries of gender, ethnicity, education levels, marital status, political affiliation, and geographical regions.

Below are a few observations and projections on how these larger changes will influence the future of addiction recovery in the United States.

  1. There is a long history of secular frameworks of addiction recovery as well as tensions and conflict between proponents of secular, spiritual and religious pathways of recovery.
  2. Distinctly religious, spiritual, and secular styles of addiction recovery will continue well into the future, with secular styles garnering increased numbers of individuals and increased cultural attention.
  3. Appreciation will increase for the distinct and shared elements of religious, spiritual, and secular styles of recovery as well as how such orientations may differ across cultural contexts and evolve across the developmental stages of recovery.
  4. Shared elements across religious, spiritual, and secular pathways of recovery include problem recognition, commitment to change, and the value of peer and family support. The major distinctions lie in two areas: 1) reliance on experiential knowledge versus scientific knowledge, and 2) reliance on transcendent power (reliance upon resources beyond the self) versus reliance on intrapersonal power (assertion of self-control over the drug relationship).
  5. There will be substantial growth within the secular wings of A.A., N.A., and other 12-Step programs (e.g., specialty meetings for atheists and agnostics; secular versions of the Twelve Steps, secular Twelve-Step literature, etc.). Such growth is already underway (e.g., A.A. for Atheists and AgnosticsA.A. Agnostica, and Secular N.A.)
  6. Explicitly secular recovery mutual aid groups (e.g., Women for Sobriety, SMART Recovery, LifeRing Secular Recovery, etc.) will collectively experience substantial growth in the decades to come and will be joined by new secular recovery support groups and related services. As most secular groups not expect prolonged mutual aid involvement, the sustainability challenges for these groups will be to address the needs for leadership development and leadership succession planning.
  7. Mutual aid groups and addiction treatment programs with a secular orientation will attract a larger pool of individuals with less severe and complex problems (including AOD problems that do not meet diagnostic criteria for a substance use disorder) and greater problem resolution resources. Secular groups may also have greater appeal to those seeking a non-abstinent resolution of substance-related problems.
  8. Traditional Twelve-Step-oriented addiction treatment programs will face increasing pressure to offer a broader service philosophy that is respectful of differences in religious, spiritual and secular orientation of those they serve and that recognizes and supports each client’s freedom of choice.
  9. Mutual aid groups and addiction treatment programs with strong religious orientations will be tempted to move into protective isolation to avoid these larger secular influences. The dilemma they will face is how to maintain historical continuity and integrity and scientific credibility while avoiding cult-like isolation and the abuses and eventual organizational implosion that such isolation can breed.
  10. Without substantial training and supervision, recovery status within a particular style of recovery will no longer be viewed a sufficient qualification to serve as a peer recovery support specialist.
  11. Addiction treatment professionals will require training in the wide varieties of recovery experience, including the diversity of religious, spiritual, and secular orientations, and how concepts and practices within each of these orientations can serve as catalysts of addiction recovery.
  12. The emerging philosophical diversification of recovery mutual aid, addiction treatment, and peer recovery support resources will broaden the menu of language, ideas, metaphors, stories, values, symbols, and rituals that can incite and strengthen the processes of recovery initiation, recovery maintenance, and enhanced quality of person and family life in long-term recovery.

Dr. Ernie Kurtz and I devoted most of our collaborations to celebrating the growing varieties of addiction recovery experience. Those varieties will grow exponentially in the future, and that IS cause for celebration.

Public Policy Update – June 2021

June 29, 2021

June 2021
Policy Update

On the Hill…

Budget Proposal

The Biden Administration has released its proposed budget for Fiscal Year 2022, and in the process has called for an historic investment in recovery support services. While the President’s budget is more proposal than policy- and serious work remains to be done to make these proposals a reality- we are inspired by the document and the administration’s call for an investment in these services that are so desperately needed in communities across the country.

Block Grant Funding

The White House has called for a significant increase in the Substance Abuse Prevention & Treatment Block Grant, the first such increase in almost 15 years. The jump from $1.85 billion to $3.5 billion, almost a 100% increase, contains a landmark provision: 10% of the block grant, which funds state SUD activities, will be set aside for spending solely on recovery support services.

Faces & Voices has advocated for close to two decades for this change. Our attention now turns to Congress to enact legislation that will make this change a reality. While the budget proposal is merely a proposal, it signifies the position of the White House on policy matters, and just as important, is an indicator of what the White House deems as a priority.

Building Communities of Recovery Program (BCOR)

The budget proposal also recommends increases in other programs that will benefit recovery support services, and their communities. The Building Communities of Recovery Program (BCOR) is recommended for a doubling of its budget, from $10 million to $20 million. The Recovery Community Services Program fared even better, with a proposed increase to $5.1 million (up from $2.4 million).

Just so you know…

HUD and the Recovery Community

While SAMHSA is the “home” government agency for SUD policy and funding, there are programs across government that have an impact on our work. The Department of Housing and Urban Development is responsible for a program that invests $25 million in recovery housing annually, ever since the passage of the SUPPORT act in 2018. The Recovery Housing Program (RHP) allows States and the District of Columbia to provide stable, transitional housing for individuals in recovery from a substance-use disorder.

The funding covers a period of not more than two years or until the individual secures permanent housing, whichever is earlier. The program has allocated funds to 28 grantees, including 27 States and the District of Columbia. The FY 2022 budget fully funds this program once again.

CDC & Recovery

The Center for Disease Control also plays a role in our work.

CDC’s FY 2022 request of $19,500,000 for Infectious Diseases and the Opioid Epidemic is $6,500,000 above the FY 2021 Enacted level. This increase will expand activities to target the infectious disease consequences of the public health crisis involving injection drug use, including viral hepatitis, HIV, and bacterial and fungal infections. This funding offers support for jurisdictions to address infectious disease vulnerabilities related to injection drug use.

In addition, CDC plans to expand support for syringe services programs and strengthen national communication capacity on the effectiveness and safety of syringe services programs.  It seeks to strengthen state and local capacity to detect and respond to infectious disease clusters and prevent further transmission, improve testing and linkage to care for infectious diseases related to injection drug use, and increase linkage to substance use disorder treatment at healthcare encounters for drug use related infections.

The Work Continues…

Juneteenth & Race Equity

Faces & Voices of Recovery would like to acknowledge that, On January 1, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, freeing all enslaved people. Nearly two and a half years later, on June 19, 1865, the enslaved residing in Texas received news of their freedom. Juneteenth marks the day when federal troops arrived in Galveston, Texas, to take control of the state and ensure that all enslaved people be freed. On June 17, 2021 President Joseph Biden signed a law making Juneteenth an official federal holiday. Faces & Voices of Recovery recognizes Juneteenth as a national holiday, and we honor it as the day all slaves in America became free.

On this important day, we are proud to release the following document regarding Race Equity. It is the culmination of a year-long examination and thoughtful reflection on our collective role in the recovery community’s pathway toward race equity. We are grateful to our partners in this endeavor for their painstaking work. We also extend an open invitation to any organization who would like to join us in this work.

We believe there is ample opportunity to heal.

The work continues.

View the Document here!

Reflections on Recovery Leadership

June 24, 2021

Remarks of William White

Floridians For Recovery 2021 Summit

 I regret that recent health challenges prevent me from joining you today in person but I am grateful for the opportunity to pass along some brief reflections on recovery leadership.

As new recovery community organizations (RCOs) linked themselves into a national advocacy movement in the late 1990s, we were asked, “Who is your leader?” and “Who speaks for this new movement?” Our first responses were, “We don’t have any leaders” or “We are all leaders.” Such responses reflected our distrust of the hierarchy and charismatic leadership that had doomed earlier recovery advocacy efforts. Such comments also reflected a position of humility and our desire to embrace a style of servant leadership. We have since seen people emerge as servant leaders at all levels of the recovery advocacy movement. Here are six leadership lessons drawn from that collective experience.

First, recovery advocacy is not a program of personal recovery. The history of recovery advocacy is cluttered with the broken bodies and wrecked organizations that thought otherwise. All we do in service must rest on the primacy of our own personal recovery. Recovery advocacy can flow from and enrich a process of recovery, but too often results in harm in the name of help if advocacy becomes our only medium of recovery maintenance.

Second, recovery advocacy should come with a promise and a warning label. The promise is that service at this level can be deeply fulfilling. The warning is that advocacy comes with all manner of risks to ourselves, our families, and our organizations. Effective leaders fully appreciate and consider these twin faces of public advocacy.  We must actively manage the highs and lows–the exhilaration, joys, exhaustion, frustrations, and related challenges–of this work.

Third, effective recovery leaders, those who stand the test of time, create organizations that avoid the temptations of celebrity leadership, professionalization, commercialization, ideological arrogance, and cult-like organizational closure. We achieve that by remaining grounded in the values of recovery—honesty, humility, simplicity, gratitude, respect, tolerance, service, and love.

Fourth, Effective recovery leaders avoid letting a successful tactic hijack the global recovery advocacy mission. For example, the present expansion of peer-based recovery support services could inadvertently becoming our singular focus. If that happens and these services become nothing more than a superficial appendage to addiction treatment, we will have failed the larger recovery advocacy mission. Personal recovery support cannot obscure the need to create the physical, psychological and cultural space in local communities where resilience and recovery can flourish.

We have many strategies, but seen as a whole, effective recovery leaders mobilize people in recovery and their allies to build authentic and vibrant recovery cultures. Such cultures:

  • Spring from us—acknowledging the recovery ancestors whose contributions created the space and roles we now occupy
  • Are produced by and for us
  • Represent our diversity and our shared values
  • Generate words, ideas, metaphors, stories, art, and rituals of our own creation that celebrate the recovery experience and extend a hand of hope and healing, and
  • Are owned by us.

Fifth, Effective recovery leadership is supported by the same daily replenishment rituals that have long been the foundation of recovery.

  1. Centering rituals allow us through prayer, meditation, and mindfulness to stay aligned to recovery values and maintain daily focus and purpose.
  1. Mirroring rituals allow us regular contact with kindred spirits who refresh our soul and strengthen our commitment to recovery and recovery advocacy.
  1. Acts of self-care and responsibility assure self-repair and replenishment for ourselves and those we most care about. “We must be careful in carrying light to the community to not leave our own homes in darkness.”
  1. Unpaid acts of service are ways we make amends and carry a message of hope and healing to those still suffering and to a suffering world.

Sixth, effective recovery leadership understands advocacy as an intergenerational process. The task of expanding recovery space in local communities and within the national consciousness will not be completed in our lifetime. Those who are called to this mission must show up, keep showing up, mentor those coming behind us, and then pass the torch to the next generation of advocates. That is how historical progress and effective leadership works.

My generation of recovery advocates is nearing the end of our recovery advocacy journeys. We leave the continued work in your hands and we wish each of you and your organizations Godspeed in writing the future of addiction recovery.

Acknowledgement: A special thanks to Ken Brown for presenting these remarks on my behalf.

Juneteenth and Racial Equity at Faces & Voices

June 19, 2021

Faces & Voices of Recovery would like to acknowledge that, On January 1, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, freeing all enslaved people. Nearly two and a half years later, on June 19, 1865, the enslaved residing in Texas received news of their freedom. Juneteenth marks the day when federal troops arrived in Galveston, Texas, to take control of the state and ensure that all enslaved people be freed. On June 17, 2021 President Joseph Biden signed a law making Juneteenth an official federal holiday. Faces & Voices of Recovery recognizes Juneteenth as a national holiday, and we honor it as the day all slaves in America became free.

On this important day, we are proud to release the following document regarding Race Equity. It is the culmination of a year-long examination and thoughtful reflection on our collective role in the recovery community’s pathway toward race equity. We are grateful to our partners in this endeavor for their painstaking work. We also extend an open invitation to any organization who would like to join us in this work.

We believe there is ample opportunity to heal.

The work continues.


Race Equity in Recovery North Star final-2

Recovery Song (Dragon’s Lullaby)

June 17, 2021

“I imagine a person battling a dragon, throwing pebbles at the beast to no avail, and then one day finding a melody that did not kill the dragon, but finally, for some precious moments, put it to sleep.” –Stephanie Chang, (2021). NC State University Social Work 516 (Addiction, Recovery, and Social Work Practice). Abstinence Exercise Journal Entry February 5, 2021.

Alcohol and other drug (AOD) problems exist on a spectrum of severity, complexity, and duration. I have referred to the ends of this continuum as the “apples and oranges” of the AOD problems arena and noted the mischief created when what we know about apples is applied to oranges—and vice versa.

At one end of this severity continuum are AOD problems of a mild to moderate nature that are transient and resolved through maturation, changes in personal circumstances (e.g., leaving college, relocation, getting married, having children, escaping a toxic relationship), an assertive decision prompted by a  humiliating AOD-related experience, or a desire to improve one’s health and quality of life. People often shed mild to moderate AOD problems of relatively short duration without participation in peer or professional supportwithout embrace of a “recovery identity,” and often through deceleration of AOD use rather than complete cessation. All such efforts and successes are cause for celebration.

Transient, self-resolved AOD problems of low to moderate severity constitute the “apples” commonly revealed in studies of AOD problems in non-clinical community surveys. So-called “natural recovery” is an affirmation that some AOD problems are a product of brief developmental windows of vulnerability or situational circumstances that do not accelerate into progressive and prolonged addiction careers.

At the other end of the continuum are AOD problems marked by high severity, immense complexity, long duration, and multiple failed efforts at self- and assisted-resolution. Persons experiencing such severity, complexity, and chronicity are characterized by high personal vulnerability for AOD problems (see HERE) and low levels of internal and external problem-solving resources (i.e., recovery capital). This high severity/complexity/chronicity group constitutes the “oranges” revealed through studies of people participating in recovery mutual aid groups and addiction treatment programs.

Further scientific research will ultimately determine what distinguishes apple people from orange people and if and how one transitions from one group to the other. There are, however, tentative conclusions drawn from historical, clinical, and experiential knowledge that warrant our consideration.

Apple people face potential harm when captured in systems designed for orange people. Apple people find themselves forced to embrace a stigma-laden diagnosis, coerced into expensive and life-disrupting clinical interventions, pressured to accept a drug abstinence goal without consideration of a moderation option, and are subjected to punishment for being “in denial” or “resistant.”

Orange people face potential harm when shamed for their inability to moderate AOD use, castigated for their embrace of a recovery identity, discouraged from involvement in abstinence-based recovery mutual aid groups, and stigmatized for needing clinical support (particularly medication support). Orange people face such questions as, “I know many [apple] people who cut down or just stopped. Why can’t you?” or “Why do you still go to all those meetings? Can’t you just put this behind you and get on with your life?” The implication: inability to stop using in spite of adverse consequences, failed promises to self and others, and the need for sustained recovery support is a reflection of immaturity, impaired intelligence, moral depravity, or some other personal defect.

For centuries, orange people have likened their addiction to possession by a devil, demon, serpent, dragon, monster, or beast. When the beast reigns, voices speak in our head that are not our own; when we look in a mirror, other faces appear; we do things alien to our nature and values; we fear losing our mind; and loved ones join us as hostages to this malignant force. Addiction and recovery literature is replete with references to battling monsters and slaying dragons. Those who have suffered under the beast’s control constitute a distinctive subgroup of people experiencing AOD problems.

Many orange people find that efforts to kill or expel the dragon—an aggressive assertion of self-will—result only in repeated failure and intensified shame. However, some find a most interesting alternative. Rather than a Sisyphean fight with the dragon, they discover a way to induce the dragon into slumber. This process involves discovery of ideas, words, phrases, metaphors, stories, or rituals that, like keys to locks, open avenues of change. I think of these elements as recovery songs that temporarily quiet the beast and induce a hibernating slumber that continues as long as the songs continue.

Lacking a cure of the condition, some who have unsuccessfully battled the beast discover instead a “daily reprieve” from the beast contingent on maintenance of certain beliefs and practices. These beliefs and practices—recovery songs—free one from the beast’s control: freedom from the physical cravings, the mental obsessions, the compulsive drug use, the gross distortions in character, and all the related consequences of addiction.

The new recovery song contaminates the drug experience and opens new life possibilities—marking a “before” and “after” line in one’s personal story. The recovery song is catalytic—releasing, revealing, and transforming who we are at a most intimate level. The song’s emancipatory ideas reverberate deep within us and elicit pleasure and a call to purposeful action. The song centers us on who we are and what we aspire to be and do.

Recovery songs enable living one’s life free of disabling symptoms. They do so by answering fundamental questions: Who was I before this problem arose in my life? What happened as a consequence of my drug use? What turning points sparked my search for recovery? What do I need to understand and do today and in the future to maintain my recovery? The answers to these questions (what becomes one’s recovery song or story), whether achieved as a sudden epiphany or through a slow awakening, provide one a new way of looking at self and the world and spark a radical reconstruction of the person-drug and person-world relationships.

Now what gets interesting is the myriad answers (recovery songs) people have found to such questions and how these songs can evolve in subtle or dramatic ways over time. For each individual, the challenge is to answer the above questions in the present. When such a solution is found, any unfreezing of that solution—those ideas and practices, what might be thought of as one’s personal recovery song / dragon’s lullaby—offer an opportunity for a maturation of recovery, but also a risk of regression to one’s former state of suffering.

Family members, friends, professional helpers, and peer helpers error in prematurely challenging the defense structure that supports an individual’s recovery, no matter how rigid or malformed that preferred defense structure may be at a particular point in time. Those who play with the idea of recovery as an intellectual exercise or critics who attack particular pathways of recovery do great harm when failing to understand that for those seeking or in recovery, this exercise of sense-making is a deadly serious one—a search for release from suffering and a desperate act of survival. If we undermine an individual’s song without replacing it with another, we crumble the scaffolding upon which recovery rests.

Any song that sets one free deserves a place of honor—even if different from our own freedom song. Claiming superiority or inferiority of particular pathways of recovery is counterproductive. The preferred mantra is Recovery by any means necessary under any circumstances, or as the wise Sly Stone proclaimed, “Different strokes for different folks.” We do a great disservice to people—harm in the name of help—when we act with individuals seeking or maintaining recovery in ways that neutralize or corrupt the songs that keep their dragon sleeping.

At a personal level, there are many songs of recovery. Each of us facing the dragon must find the song that makes our soul sing and seduces the dragon into sleep. Any song that quiets the beast is a freedom song. To  quote Bob Marley, “Won’t you help to sing these songs of freedom?”

Acknowledgement: A thank you to Chris Budnick for sharing with me the opening quote that was crafted by one of his students, Stephanie Chang, and to Ms. Chang for her permission to include it in this blog.

Posts from William White

Program Oversight Tip Sheet

October 1, 2021

Peer recovery support service (PRSS) programs should have an established, formal recovery community advisory council or community board, in addition to a Board of Directors.

Board of Directors Tip Sheet

October 1, 2021

Building a Strong Governing Board

A peer recovery support services (PRSS) program benefits from having a strong board that is dedicated to the mission of the organization, representative of the local recovery community, and effectively prepared for their governing role.

Marty Walsh US Secretary of labor video

September 30, 2021

What Does the Future Hold for the Recovery Community?

September 9, 2021

Featured Panelists: Christina Love, Dharma Mirza, and Meghan Hetfield


Christina Love, Advocacy Initiative Specialist, Alaska Network on Domestic Violence & Sexual Assault (ANDVSA)





Dharma Mirza Equity & Justice Fellow at ARHE & Oregon Measure 110 Oversight & Accountability Council Member

Dharma Mirza (she/her) is an artist, activist, policy advocate, and scholar living in Corvallis, OR. Dharma is a Public Health and Gender Studies student at Oregon State University. Dharma focuses her work and research on harm reduction, sexual health, addiction, public health equity, and the intersections of behavioral health and marginalized health populations. Dharma informs her work through intersectional, feminist, and decolonial frameworks and draws on her own experiences in navigating health/harm reduction services as an HIV-positive, queer, biracial transgender woman, Khwaja Sira (Pakistani Third Gender), and former survival sex worker and IV drug user.

Meghan Hetfield, Certified Addiction Recovery Coach and Certified Recovery Peer Advocate


As a Nationally Certified Peer Recovery Support Specialist and a NY State Certified Recovery Peer Advocate and Trainer, Meghan has found purpose in supporting people in their individual pathways of health and wellness. She is a dedicated advocate for Harm Reduction and ending the racist War on Drugs. She believes that radical compassion is needed to heal each other and meet our fellow humxns “where they’re at” without shame or judgement. Meghan is currently working from home in New York’s Catskill Mountains for WEconnect Health Management as a PRSS where she enjoys swimming holes, mushroom club hikes and cooking all her plant & fungi foraging finds.

Description: Recovery belongs to us all. Leading up to the second summit in St. Paul, MN this October 3-6, 2021 – 20 years after the original summit – what do we expect of our future? Three vibrant leaders discuss their perspectives and hopes for the next two decades of the Recovery Community. Through this moderated discussion, we will investigate the need to end gatekeeping and welcome everyone to recovery by lowering barriers to recovery support, creating inclusive spaces and programs, and broadening our understanding of what recovery means for people with different experiences. As we grow in empathy and understanding, we save lives by adding protective factors and building resiliency. Ever reminding us that Recovery is for Everyone: Every Person, Every Family, Every Community.

Moderated by: Keegan Wicks, National Advocacy and Outreach Manager, Faces & Voices of Recovery

This webinar series is sponsored by Alkermes.

COVID-19 Vaccine FAQs

August 25, 2021

COVID-19 Vaccine FAQs_FVR

Ethics Tip Sheet

April 6, 2021

Peer recovery support service (PRSS) programs require an ethical framework for service delivery. In most cases, simply “importing” a professional code of ethics is not effective. There is a difference between the professional-client relationship and the relationship of the peer leader and the peer being served that warrants an ethical framework specifically tailored to PRSS.

We Have Been (Addiction Lament & Recovery Celebration)

February 25, 2021

Understanding oneself is incomplete when divorced from the history of one’s people. Those with lived experience of addiction and recovery share such a larger history. Over the course of centuries and across the globe, we have been:

Abandoned  Arrested   Berated   Caned   Castigated   Coerced   Confronted   Condemned   Conned   Defamed  Defrocked   Divorced   Deported   Denied Probation   Denied Pardon   Denied Parenthood   Executed   Electrocuted   Electroshocked   Evicted   Expelled   Exploited   Exiled   Feared   Fired   Forsaken   Hated   Humiliated   Incarcerated   Incapacitated   Kidnapped   Kicked Out   Quarantined   Restrained  Ridiculed   Sedated  Seduced  Shunned   Shamed   Surveilled   Tough Loved   Criticized   Colonized   Commercialized   Criminalized   Delegitimized   Demonized   Depersonalized   Deprioritized   Disenfranchised   Eulogized   Euthanized   Glamorized   Homogenized   Hypnotized   Institutionalized   Lobotomized   Marginalized   Memorialized   Miscategorized   Mischaracterized   Monetized   Mythologized   Objectified  Ostracized   Patronized   Politicized   Proselytized   Publicized   Sensationalized   Stigmatized   Scandalized   Sensualized   Sterilized   Terrorized   Theologized   Traumatized   Tranquilized  Trivialized

More recently, through the efforts of recovery advocates and professional and public allies, we are being:

Applauded   Awakened   Celebrated   Defined   Educated   Elevated   Encouraged   Helped   Healed   Enfranchised   Hired   Informed   Inspired   Motivated  Profiled   Reconstructed   Recruited   Redeemed   Rekindled   Renewed   Restored   Represented   Reunited   Supported   Surveyed   Transformed   Uplifted  Utilized  Valued Vindicated   Actualized   Baptized   Decriminalized   Destigmatized   Diversified   Enfranchised   Hypothesized   Idealized   Legitimized  Medicalized   Mobilized   Organized   Prioritized   Professionalized   Radicalized   Randomized   Recognized   Reconceptualized   Revitalized   Secularized   Sympathized Theorized

Through our shared journeys, recovery is gifting us with:

Accountability   Acceptability   Adaptability   Authenticity   Clarity   Collegiality   Community   Dignity   Employability   Fidelity   Flexibility   Honesty   Humility   Integrity   Longevity   Maturity   Opportunity   Possibility   Predictability   Productivity   Prosperity   Respectability  Responsibility  Sanity   Serenity   Sobriety   Spirituality   Stability  Survivability   Tranquility   Visibility   Wellbriety

Is it any wonder given the complexity of these experiences that we struggle in recovery to answer, “Who am I?” We cannot fully understand the “me story” without the “we story.”  Our personal stories nest within the hands of this larger multigenerational and multinational story. Our present circumstances, our shared needs, our individual aspirations, and our future destinies are inextricably linked to this complex, collective past. We can draw upon that past for resolve and inspiration at the same time we rise above it. Personally and collectively, we have fallen, yet like Lazarus, we rise anew.  Personally and collectively, we are moving from pain to purpose.


National Standards of Best Practices for RCOs

February 24, 2021

To ensure fidelity to the recovery community organization model, Faces & Voices of Recovery, RCOs across the nation, and stakeholders have identified the following as national best practices for recovery community organizations.

Recovery Innovations: The Well-Fed Social Supermarket

February 18, 2021

I recently discovered a UK-based project that I found so exciting that I solicited the below blog to share with my readers. To me, the Well-Fed Social Supermarket signals a next stage in the evolution of recovery support services: programs that serve those seeking and in recovery while simultaneously benefiting the larger community. For generations, “service work” in the recovery community has reflected the support we provide each other, our mutual aid organizations, and individuals and families seeking recovery. Perhaps the day has arrived when that service ethic will be extended in new and dramatic ways to larger communities and cultures.

–Bill White


Recovery Innovations: The Well-Fed Social Supermarket

Dave Higham, Ged Pickersgill and David Best


Recovery is a process that is characterised through the acronym CHIME – standing for Connectedness (the importance of social engagement); Hope; Identity (the growth of positive personal and social identities); Meaning (engaging in activities that give value to each day) and Empowerment (often experienced as positive self-esteem and self-efficacy).

For recovery community organisations, supporting people to achieve sustainable recovery is often about finding ways to promote CHIME that are personalised to individual aspirations and goals, and the stage of a person’s recovery. This means creating access to positive social and community resources that can nurture recovery capital.

In the UK, there have been a glut of recovery cafes, some of which have succeeded and others failed, but an increasing quest for diverse programmes and social enterprises that can both bolster recovery experiences while also contributing to the growth and wellbeing of the local community. This article provides a brief overview of the Well and then will focus on its innovative contribution to recovery pathways and community wellbeing.

The Well

The Well is a not-for-profit, community interest company (CIC) formed by ex-offender Dave Higham in 2012. Dave left prison for the last time in 2007 having spent over 25 years in addiction and in that time spent more time in prison than he did in the community. Since leaving prison in 2007 he has dedicated his life to supporting others with drug and alcohol addiction through both voluntary and paid employment. Dave set up The Well with his own money and with no blueprint to follow. Instead, he used his experience, vision and determination to create what has now become a leading provider of recovery services in the region.

Dave set up The Well when he recognised a gap in the provision of services during  off-hours and weekends for those people who wanted to achieve or maintain abstinence. The first hub was launched in Lancaster in 2012, and a further four sites quickly followed in Lancashire and Cumbria (in the North-West of England).The majority of staff at The Well have lived experience of substance misuse and offending histories.

The Well has always been shaped, designed and delivered by the people it serves and supplemented by the assumption that both the person and their family need to recover and are thus welcomed. The Well is also open to people with prescription drug histories, mental health issues and trauma, and nearly all the people served have experienced CPTSD (Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). The Well is based on the assumption that ‘Where we serve our community, we become active citizens in the community’.

The Social Supermarket

A Social Supermarket has been designed as a positive way of supporting those on low incomes, tackling poor diet and overcoming health inequalities, through the provision of surplus stock sold at heavily subsidised prices.

Since store’s opening in November 2019, Wellfed Social Supermarket has had a footfall of over 5,000 people and has also resulted in 279 referrals into The Well Communities through various mechanisms of support.  The social supermarket has also facilitated (including but not limited to ) delivery of over 1500 hot meals to marginalised families, issued over 150 food bank vouchers, issued 17 free flu vaccination vouchers, delivered 37 emergency food parcels, delivered 242 sets of ingredients and recipes, and assisted families with welfare signposting in respect of white goods.

Well Fed social supermarket secures high-quality short dated food from retail and manufacture supply chains that would otherwise be sent as waste to landfill but is fit for human consumption. We sell this food to customers at reduced prices, typically an average of one-third of normal retail prices. Marketing is carefully targeted at residents on the lowest incomes and thus at greatest risk of experiencing food poverty and related health issues.

The social supermarket model innovates further by working with local agencies to provide a range of on-site support services. These are tailored to members’ needs and help them overcome multiple barriers to getting out of poverty. On-site support, signposting and assertive linkage may include money advice, debt counselling, and courses on healthy eating and cooking on a budget, as well as employability and vocational skills training. The Well-Fed Social Supermarket is a non-profit organisation with all monies re-invested back into the local community.

The Well Communities Social Supermarket is a model which enables residents in Barrow in Furness to access the retail aspect of the social supermarket and our Fairshare Model Food clubs and to be included in The Well Communities  Building Better Opportunities (BBO) Project  which helps members benefit from the employment and business opportunities that are arising in Barrow in Furness both now and through the longer term delivery of the BBO programme.

This is linked to the Well-fed Food Clubs which provide a sustainable alternative to free food distribution and foodbanks. Through a £3 per week payment, members receive approximately £10 to £15 worth of food each week while reducing food waste by working closely with fareshare North West by collecting the food from the regional Hub in Preston. The Well has built up a very strong membership of marginalised families; most of the postcode areas we serve are listed in the indicies of multiple deprivation. Over 30 tonnes of surplus food has been distributed to date.

The whole model is based on looking upstream and looking behind the actual need for discounted food. Each family has difficulties which mean they need to obtain goods due to some form of financial hardship; the intention is to determine such reasons and help in some way to alleviate these problems. These are then linked to in-house support mechanisms which Include assertive linkage to local statutory and third sector organisations.

Building Recovery and Community Capital                                                                     

The Well identifies people’s recovery capital, identifies their  passions, and works with them to create enterprises. They have had several successful enterprise ideas, the first being The Well itself, but they have also had some failures or learning that were not so successful. To get to the successful Social Supermarket idea we went through a process of ideas and attempts, the first being a catering trailer business, where the Well bought and renovated a trailer and employed a member of our community as he had experience as a chef, got a pitch for the trailer, but the marketing strategy of announcing that we were recovering addicts and alcoholics was the wrong thing to do as in the first year the project  was working at a loss. The lesson was that the most important factor about a food trailer is the pitch, and let this business go but kept the company name Well-Fed and started up foodbanks.

The other successful business, “Well maintained” used the employment capital and experience within the Well membership, including carpenters, electricians, plasterers and so on, and renovated our Dolton Road Hub which is now the location for The Social Supermarket.


There were false first steps on the road to creating the Social Supermarket, but the commitment to the principles of peer empowerment, community engagement and CHIME have resulted in a number of successes that contribute to the growth, wellbeing and inclusiveness of the recovery community as an active and vibrant part of the local, lived community. Not all of these enterprises will succeed, but the skill base, dedication and creativity of the recovery community will ensure a net gain and a positive contribution to individual recovery journeys, family inclusion and community connections and growth.

2020 Faces & Voices of Recovery Annual Report

February 13, 2021