RecoveryBlog

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

Comprehensive Harm Reduction Training is Essential for the Peer Support Workforce

May 25, 2023
Recovery from substance use disorder can be a long and challenging journey, and it requires the dedication and hard work of not only the person in recovery but also those who provide support and care. Peer-delivered recovery services are an essential part of the recovery process for many individuals. It is of utmost importance that individuals working in this field are trained to provide the best possible care to those in need. Harm reduction has been around for a long time, but it has only recently been embraced by the healthcare system in the United States.  Harm reduction approaches aim to reduce the negative consequences that come with substance use, which can include overdose, HIV/AIDS, and Hepatitis C. The approach involves providing non-judgmental care and support, education, and access to resources that promote positive health outcomes. It recognizes that not everyone is ready or willing to stop using drugs or alcohol, but everyone deserves to be treated with dignity and respect. Harm reduction also addresses the need for social justice reform as our policies have systematically disenfranchised marginalized communities. At Faces & Voices, our aim is to reduce harm as much as possible, which is why we’ve enlisted some of the nation’s leading experts to create a new comprehensive harm reduction training for the peer support workforce based on science and best practices. Peer workers should receive comprehensive training and we recognize that inadequate training can result in more harm.  Individuals working in peer-delivered recovery service settings such as recovery community organizations, recovery housing, and education-based settings provide the best possible care when they are trained thoroughly in harm reduction principles and practices. Harm Reduction for the Peer Workforce is an 18-hour training that emphasizes harm reduction as an evidence-based approach that recognizes that substance use is a complex issue that cannot be addressed simply by abstaining from drugs or alcohol. It provides individuals with the knowledge and skills they need to effectively reduce the harms associated with substance use. The training covers a wide range of topics, including the history of harm reduction and drug policy, harm reduction principles and practices, stigma and discrimination, risk assessment, overdose prevention and response, drug checking, safer sex practices, and more. During the training participants have opportunities to practice new skills through interactive activities such as role plays. Participants will also receive ongoing coaching and support to ensure they have the resources they need to provide the best possible care to those in need. The training curriculum and materials originated from Recovery Coaching A Harm Reduction Pathway© and has been adapted with permission and assistance from its co-authors and owners, Jim Wuelfing and Dean Lemire/ The Lemire Group LLC. Chad Sabora, Senior Advisor at Faces & Voices and one of the country’s most well-known experts in harm reduction, collaborated with the curriculum’s authors and other experts who have extensive experience in peer recovery coaching to update and expand this training program. This initiative was made possible through our technical assistance provider role with the National Harm Reduction Technical Assistance Center.  The Centers for Disease Control established and expanded the NHRTAC in collaboration with the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration to ensure comprehensive support of the integration of harm reduction strategies and principles across diverse community settings. By providing the peer support workforce with a comprehensive harm reduction training, we can improve the quality of care provided to those in need and promote a safer and healthier society. Please contact the National Recovery Institute at Faces & Voices of Recovery for more information: nri@facesandvoicesofrecovery.org. Faces & Voices of Recovery is a national advocacy and education organization that is dedicated to promoting a recovery-oriented system of care for individuals with substance use disorder. See what we’re up to and how you can get involved at www.facesandvoicesofrecovery.org.

Operations Manager

May 11, 2023

Faces & Voices of Recovery is seeking an Operations Manager.

This is a full-time home-based position with a competitive annual starting salary- based on experience. Faces & Voices of Recovery offers generous leave and health benefits.

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.

 

To Apply: 

A cover letter describing your interest in THIS job and why you’re a good fit is required. 

Please make sure your file names contain your first and last name.

Send resume and cover letter to careers@facesandvoicesofrecovery.org.

 

Job purpose

The Operations Manager supports the Director of Operations and Chief Operating Officer in the development and implementation of strategies to optimize daily operations. The Operations Manager demonstrates leadership & integrity working in alignment with the organization’s strategic goals to support human resources, administration, finance, digital infrastructure, fund development, and events. The Operations Manager will play a collaborative role in developing and implementing systems that increase the quality and efficiency of our work, supporting our ability to grow and expand our mission.

Duties & Responsibilities

  • Ensure operational management systems, are managed appropriately and cost-effectively
  • Analyze and streamline the company’s processes, identify opportunities for improvement, and develop strategies to enhance productivity and profitability
  • Aid in the formation and implementation of standard operating procedures and personnel policies, and contribute to the development and integration of new processes
  • Promote justice, diversity, equity & inclusion (J-DEI) initiatives set forth by the organization
  • Liaise between organization and accountants to coordinate day-to-day finance operations including processing deposits, payables, reimbursements, invoicing, and audits
  • Ensure the maintenance of appropriate financial records and preparation of required financial reports
  • Assist with human resources functions to include payroll, on/off-boarding, goal setting and tracking, training, performance management, leaves, benefits, and job descriptions
  • Coordinate employee engagement strategies and initiatives that contribute to a thriving organizational culture
  • Collaborate interdepartmentally to ensure all departments are working together effectively to achieve the company’s goals

Additional Duties & Responsibilities

  • Work jointly with leadership to administer operational policies & procedures
  • Troubleshoot and resolve operational issues
  • Manage relationships with external vendors and consultants to ensure successful and ongoing delivery of operational capabilities
  • Research, cultivate, and maintain relationships with internal & external stakeholders

Qualifications

  • Bachelor’s Degree or commensurate experience in business administration, grant-making, program/project management, preferably in a non-profit or philanthropic setting
  • At least 3+ years supervisory or managerial experience
  • At least 2+ years remote work & virtual platform experience
  • Experience in fund development, membership or related field
  • Experience with donor databases is highly desirable
  • Proficient computer and data management skills, including software such as MS Office Suite, QuickBooks, Salesforce
  • Familiarity with human Resources Information Systems (HRIS)
  • Strong organizational, administrative, and time- management skills with attention to detail; ability to understand big picture goals and needs and translate them to smaller scale tasks to implement projects with accuracy and efficiency
  • Fluency in budgeting, planning, and strategy as well as tracking, reporting, and cash flow • Working knowledge of non-profit audit cycle and process
  • Impeccable, integrity and trustworthiness, with an ability to handle sensitive information effectively and confidentially
  • Superior attention to detail and excellent organizational, time-management and project management skills
  • Demonstrates an understanding of justice diversity, equity, and inclusion (JDEI) and a willingness to grow with the team’s J-DEI journey
  • Apt problem-solving skills; ability to think creatively to develop practical solutions and willingness to work effectively both with and without standards, templates, and supervision
  • Propensity for teamwork; desire to collaborate with others and ability to engage with diverse people working toward common goals

Salary

  • $63,000 to $78,750; commensurate with experience.

Working conditions

Faces & Voices of Recovery employs remote workers who must maintain a home office conducive to optimal work performance and free of distractions. Some projects may require staff to travel. All necessary personal arrangements for travel such as childcare, house care, pet care, etc. should be done on personal time. Local errands, like shipping and mailing, that pertain to work projects should be done during work hours. All staff are required to work and be available during office hours – 9:00 am -5:00 pm ET unless otherwise approved by supervisor.

Physical requirements

Employee must be able to remain in a stationary position 90% of the time. Constantly operates a computer and other office productivity machinery, such as a calculator, copy machine, and computer printer. The person in this position frequently communicates with other team members and customers who have inquiries. Must be able to exchange accurate information in these situations. Some occasions may call for moving equipment weighing up to 50 pounds to and from venue locations for various events.

Direct Reports

Operations Assistant, Operations Coordinator; other staff as assigned.

Reminder

Please include resume and cover letter and include your First and Last Name in the title of the documents.

Fund Development Manager

May 11, 2023

Faces & Voices of Recovery is seeking a Fund Development Manager.

This is a full-time home-based position with a competitive annual starting salary- based on experience. Faces & Voices of Recovery offers generous leave and health benefits.

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.

 

To Apply: 

A cover letter describing your interest in THIS job and why you’re a good fit is required. 

Please make sure your file names contain your first and last name.

Send resume and cover letter to careers@facesandvoicesofrecovery.org.

 

Job purpose

The Fund Development Manager works closely with the Executive Team and others to develop, implement, and monitor initiatives to grow support for the organization. The Fund Development Manager manages special fundraising events, online donations, individual membership, corporate donations, and grant proposals while building awareness of the contributions and financial needs of Faces & Voices of Recovery. This role is integral to accomplishing the strategic goals and objectives of the overall organization. The Fund Development Manager will be a key liaison to the organization’s stakeholders, supporters, and volunteers. This includes working with leadership and others to identify, cultivate, thank, and steward members, donors, volunteers, and other supporters.

Duties & Responsibilities

Memberships, Donations, Grants

  • Coordinate membership program; conduct annual membership drive
  • Identify and cultivate prospective donors
  • Manage all existing donor relationships by tracking funding status, interests, communications, and opportunities
  • Create regular fundraising and membership reports and update internal databases
  • Research, cultivate, and maintain relationships with potential donors
  • Oversee handling of communications with members, donors, volunteers, and other supporters, including welcome letters, renewals, and donor acknowledgments
  • Research and apply for new grant funding opportunities
  • Research and apply for corporate sponsorships
  • Partner with Public Affairs to implement year-round marketing and communications plans, including special campaigns and initiatives, and update website content

Volunteer Engagement

  • Oversee recruitment and onboarding of volunteers and interns
  • Organize opportunities for engagement of volunteers

Fundraising Events

  • Develop and implement a comprehensive fundraising program
  • Coordinate annual and periodic fundraising initiatives

General duties

  • Write and maintain up-to-date standard operating procedures for fund development
  • Maintain development infrastructure and support functions, including overseeing the donor database and recognition process, establishing fundraising targets, monitoring and evaluating results, and providing regular revenue and cash flow updates on projections versus results
  • Develop project planning documents and archive project materials to ensure visibility of project history, current status, and future directions
  • Create and manage detailed project schedules and workplans using SharePoint, Salesforce, Excel, and other project management software
  • Schedule meetings, develop agendas, document project conversations and follow-up on next steps to ensure completion

Qualifications

  • Development professional with passion for healthcare and social justice
  • At least 2+ years of experience in nonprofit or philanthropic fund development
  • At least 5+ years of programmatic development, community service, and/or non-profit management
  • Demonstrated knowledge of practices, policies and procedures related to development and fundraising including specific knowledge of the laws and regulations governing these areas
  • Natural collaborator and problem solver with ability to take initiative and work independently
  • Strong written and verbal communication skills
  • Sound judgement and ability to exercise discretion when dealing with confidential information
  • High degree of self-motivation, personal discipline, and integrity
  • Demonstrates an understanding of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) and a willingness to grow with the team in our DEI journey
  • Demonstrated ability to work collaboratively in a diverse environment
  • Excellent analytical and problem-solving skills combined with attention to detail for complex, detail-oriented work
  • Ability to work independently, as a team member, and across departmental boundaries in a fast-paced environment
  • Flexibility to be organized, productive and effective in a dynamic environment, involved with a variety of simultaneous projects and workflows
  • Ability to complete projects according to outlined scope, budget, and timeline
  • Excellent computer and data management skills, including software such as Microsoft Office, Zoom, Slack, Salesforce, and SharePoint

Salary

  • $63,000 to $78,750; commensurate with experience.

Working conditions

Faces & Voices of Recovery employs remote workers who must maintain a home office conducive to optimal work performance and free of distractions. Some projects may require staff to travel. All necessary personal arrangements for travel such as childcare, house care, pet care, etc. should be done on personal time. Local errands, like shipping and mailing, that pertain to work projects should be done during work hours. All staff are required to work and be available during office hours – 9:00 am -5:00 pm ET unless otherwise approved by supervisor.

Physical requirements

Employee must be able to remain in a stationary position 90% of the time. Constantly operates a computer and other office productivity machinery, such as a calculator, copy machine, and computer printer. The person in this position frequently communicates with other team members and customers who have inquiries. Must be able to exchange accurate information in these situations. Some occasions may call for moving equipment weighing up to 50 pounds to and from venue locations for various events.

Direct Reports

None

Reminder

Please include resume and cover letter and include your First and Last Name in the title of the documents.

2023-2025 Federal Policy & Advocacy Priorities

March 3, 2023

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 

FACES & VOICES OF RECOVERY ANNOUNCES ITS
2023-2025 FEDERAL POLICY & ADVOCACY PRIORITIES

Washington, DC

Faces & Voices of Recovery is honored to continue its work through advocacy and public policy to increase accessibility and remove barriers to recovery support services.

Faces & Voices of Recovery advocates daily for the millions of people in and seeking recovery. For over 20 years they have continued to have important conversations; work with constituents to create equitable services, and create brave spaces for people
impacted by addiction, their friends, family members, and the organizations that work
to support them.

As the new Congressional term has begun, Faces & Voices of Recovery look to the future and building new relationships with decision-makers to prioritize the faces and voices of those in recovery, those using substances, and their families. The 2023-2025 plan highlights the need to expand addiction recovery services and accessibility, remove barriers and nurture social determinants of recovery, and harness the passion and action for
grassroots engagement.

A few priority highlights from the plan include strengthening patient health information safeguards that prevent unauthorized disclosure, diversify funding streams for recovery support services across federal and state agencies, ensure laws and regulation reflect harm reduction principles, and expand Recovery-Ready Workplace (RRW) models including eliminating arbitrary penalties for past criminal convictions.

For more information on Faces & Voices of Recovery please visit http://www.facesandvoicesofrecovery.org.

Emily Porcelli
Marketing and Communications Manager
Faces & Voices of Recovery
(202) 741-9392
eporcelli@facesandvoicesofrecovery.org

 

Download the Official Announcement Here

Faces & Voices of Recovery Issues Urgent Call to Action

November 17, 2022

Unlocking the Potential of Recovery Community Organizations and Peer Recovery Support Services is an important call to action on the future of addiction recovery in the United States”, says William L. White, Recovery Historian, and author of Slaying the Dragon: The History of Addiction Treatment and Recovery in America. “If its recommendations are heeded, this seminal report could well be a milestone in the future of recovery community organizations and peer recovery support services.”

The white paper, soon to be released publicly by Faces & Voices of Recovery, demonstrates how the current financing models for peer recovery support services present significant barriers to maximizing the role of the peer workforce in addressing the addiction crisis in the United States.  The peer-to-peer relationship impacts health at multiple levels of the socioecological model (i.e., at individual, family, community, and societal levels) and has potential not currently actualized.  The inclusion of peer workers has become a best practice and a number of interventions utilizing them demonstrate compelling outcomes. In this report, the authors lay out the key issues underlying the need for action to bring about broad systems change.

“While we recognize the complexity of policy and financing issues, the peer workforce and recovery community organizations that employ them need a paradigm shift now to sustain their invaluable work in communities across America. This report is a must-read for everyone interested in the future of recovery community organizations and peer recovery support services”, says Patty McCarthy, CEO of Faces & Voices of Recovery.

Authors of the white paper are Kenneth D. Smith, PhD, Assistant Professor of Public Health at the University of Tennessee Knoxville, Robin Peyson, MHSA, Owner & Lead Consultant of RLP Consulting, and Sierra Castedo de Martell, MPH, Doctoral Candidate, UTHealth School of Public Health, Austin Regional Campus.

Join Faces & Voices of Recovery at 3-4:30 pm ET on December 1, 2022, for a webinar with the authors, as well as other nationally recognized leaders in the recovery movement. To learn more or register https://facesandvoicesofrecovery.org/event/a-seat-at-the-table-leadership-to-unlock-the-potential-of-recovery-community/

 

Unlocking the Potential of Recovery Community Organizations and Peer Recovery Support Services will be made available on the Faces & Voices of Recovery website at https://facesandvoicesofrecovery.org/ prior to the event.

 

Contact

info@facesandvoicesofrecovery.org

Faces & Voices of Recovery’s Statement on Final FY2022 Budget

March 22, 2022

March 22, 2022

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

President Biden signed the nation’s Fiscal Year 2022 budget into law Tuesday, March 15, 2022. This year’s budget received several increases in areas that directly benefit recovery support services, including:

  • $50 million to Substance Abuse Block Grant (SABG)
  • $25 million to State Opioid Response (SOR) Program
  • $7.3 million Treatment, Recovery, and Workforce Support (SUPPORT Act)
  • $3 million to Building Communities of Recovery (BCOR)

Our advocacy work began last January when the President unveiled his plan to substantially increase dollars available in the Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment Block Grant (SABG), elevating current levels by over $1 billion. Although the House and Senate included these provisions in their original bills, they unfortunately did not reach the final bill text.

The FY2022 budget was met with primarily flat funding across the board. As a result, our members and community lost several promising provisions– including a 10% set-aside for recovery support services and the re-introduction of text prohibiting federal dollars utilized for safe supplies, like sterile syringes.

“Despite these setbacks,” says David Mineta, Board Chairperson, Faces & Voices of Recovery, “we have made clear strides with Congress, who continue to show overwhelming support for recovery support services. Our work for 2023 has already begun as we repeat the annual cycle for change. We trim last year’s vegetation and nourish the roots that have allowed the Recovery Movement to flower and grow–advocacy by the grassroots.”

Faces & Voices of Recovery has long advocated for Congress to establish a set-aside for recovery. The President’s historical push for a 10% set-aside for recovery support services and an enormous increase to the block grant would dedicate several hundred million dollars for recovery community organizations, including recovery high schools, collegiate recovery programs, recovery residences, and alternative peer groups across the United States.

“Over the last 20 years, our advocacy work has led to substantial increases in federal funding for recovery support services,” says Patty McCarthy, Chief Executive Officer, Faces & Voices of Recovery. “Within the past three years alone, our advocacy efforts have grown the Building Community of Recovery grant program from $5 million to $13 million. These increases in federal funding have allowed our communities to build and strengthen programs where it counts–in community-based settings. Looking to FY 2023, we will continue to work with Congress to ensure that the block grant receives at least a $1.7 billion increase and that 10% of block grant funds are dedicated to recovery.”

The final FY2022 budget may not be the outcome we were anticipating; many advocates did not expect Congress to deny the recommended funding levels during a time when preventable, fatal overdoses are the leading cause of death for people ages 18-45. However, this year’s budget did limit nearly all areas of federal spending. Our staff and partners redouble our efforts to strengthen new and existing programs supportive of recovery services, and we feel confident that the remainder of 2022 will present many opportunities to expand access and funding for recovery support services.

As we execute our federal priorities, we will continue to serve as a national resource to the Administration, Congress, and our community. We encourage all communities to amplify the faces and voices of recovery to ensure that all who seek wellness have equitable access to recovery support. This year onward, our timing and advocacy will be paramount to the future of people who use substances, those with substance use disorder, and their families and loved ones. For these reasons, Faces & Voices of Recovery stands ready to advocate, act, and advance.

We will continue to notify our communities of our progress and calls-to-action to support creating dedicated funding for recovery.

For more information, the FY2022 bill text can be found here.

Faces & Voices of Recovery Supports Safe Supplies for Harm Reduction

February 10, 2022

Board President David Mineta and Chief Operating Officer Philip Rutherford have released the following statement:

Communities across our country face the devastation posed by overdose deaths, now the leading cause of people ages 18-45. As a result, the exponential loss caused by preventable, fatal overdoses has led to an influx of innovative approaches that promote the general health and wellbeing of people that use drugs, including those with addiction.

This crisis continues to overwhelm families and communities through the loss of loved ones and the economic impact that fatal overdoses pose. At a minimum, fatal overdoses cost the United States $1 trillion annually. Alternatively, adequate addiction treatment dramatically reduces law enforcement and healthcare costs, including Medicaid spending, by 700%.

Faces & Voices of Recovery promotes the utilization of services that offer fentanyl test strips, access to HIV and viral hepatitis treatment, sterile syringes, and safe smoking supplies, which reduce the rate of overdose and spread of infectious diseases – minimizing the harmful effects of drug use. Additionally, these strategies promote linkages to care and facilitate services for the health and wellbeing of its participants through motivational interviewing, counseling, and peer support specialists.

Despite continued discussion around the ‘opioid epidemic,’ fatal overdoses are not confined to heroin or opioids, nor are they limited to intravenous drug use. For example, a recent report from the Commission on Combating Synthetic Opioid Trafficking, states that 70 percent of overdose deaths involve heroin or cocaine, and nearly 50 percent involve psychostimulants such as methamphetamines.

We must consider safer consumption for non-intravenous substance use when preventing overdose. Ultimately, dividing the available resources for safer drug consumption perpetuates stigma about different drugs. Historically, we’ve seen the challenges that arise from this mentality through the ‘crack epidemic,’ which led to the inherently flawed and racist practices of mandatory minimum sentencing, the three-strike policy, and ultimately mass incarceration.

These perspectives perpetuate the continued trauma of many Black communities that were and are ignored, untreated, and incarcerated rather than having access to treatment and recovery supportive opportunities. Not only does this further disadvantage communities of color, but it also disadvantages rural communities that may experience higher levels of methamphetamine use and continues the cycle of disproportionate systems and inequitable resources to access addiction recovery.

We encourage all communities to amplify the faces and voices of recovery to ensure that all who seek recovery have equitable access to recovery supports of their choice. Especially policies that eliminate systems, structures, and constructs that marginalize people by race and ethnicity.

Where the Overdose Epidemic & COVID Collide, Peer Coaches & Specialists Face ‘Perfect Storm’

February 7, 2022

“In the early days of the pandemic during lockdown, I lost three people in one month. With that happening and being in the recovery field, sometimes you wonder if you’ve done enough for someone.” – Pete Walker. 

 

2020 was an unprecedented year. Feelings of uncertainty and dread crept over the general public as COVID-19 broke headlines, further spreading and festering into a full-blown pandemic. The whole world seemed to be turned upside down as everything shut down around us. People lost their jobs, their homes, and their loved ones. Yet while this ongoing pandemic continues to dominate headlines, in the United States there has been another, tangential crisis gripping the country and its communities long before COVID – the addiction and overdose epidemic.  

The addiction and overdose epidemic has impacted communities across the country for years now. According to the CDC, there have been close to 841,000 people die from a drug overdose over the span of 20 years from 1999 to 2019. Despite research, advocacy efforts, and attempts to partially mobilize the recovery community, no one was quite prepared for the storm that 2020 would bring across the nation.  

The convergence of the COVID-19 pandemic and overdose epidemic led to a spike in overdose deaths, with overdoses hitting an all-time high in 2020. Recently, the CDC released new data showing that for the first time ever, during the ongoing pandemic, overdose deaths had exceeded 100,000 during a twelve-month period . According to the Recovery Research Institute, substance overdose deaths increased the most during the first five months of the pandemic . This can be attributed to most states going into lockdown, leaving many stuck in their homes. The isolation and disconnect experienced during this time often intensified existing mental health and substance use disorders. 

Abraham “Pete” Walker of Michigan and Florida, owner of Walker Consulting and Recovery Coaching, reflects upon the challenges he experienced during those early months of the pandemic and lockdown.

I like to say that with my emotions, I am pretty level keeled. I try to be spiritual and do good. But during lockdown I went into a very dark place”, says Pete. 

During this time, as Pete worked for his own LLC and some other recovery nonprofits, he lost three individuals to overdose in just one month. The emotional burden that compounded loss places upon a professional working in recovery support services is tremendous. By being a person in recovery as well, Pete directly understands the challenges that the isolation of the pandemic brought on to so many.  

“All of this is like a tornado happening. Maybe some that weren’t necessarily going to get caught up in it are getting swept up. Perhaps some of it comes from isolation and boredom, or from the scares and anxiety of the pandemic. We don’t know what happens to some people or what they might be going through – and COVID really intensified emotions and swept more people up into this tornado.” 

This metaphor Pete uses to capture the grim reality of what happened in 2020 hits close to home for many communities across the United States, as this ‘tornado’ touched down and wreaked havoc in nearly every corner of the country. At Healing Transitions in Raleigh, North Carolina, Courtni Wheeler leads the Rapid Responder Team. She began this role at the very start of the COVID pandemic, when most overdoses that Courtni and her team responded to were related to heroin or fentanyl use. However, as lockdowns started, the overdose calls they were responding to shifted to cocaine, pressed pills, methamphetamines, and even marijuana.  

Overdoses from marijuana were something Courtni described as ‘simply unheard of’. In fact, the majority of calls her team responded to in those early months of the pandemic were overdoses resulting from substances one wouldn’t typically overdose from. In working alongside Emergency Medical Service (EMS) personnel, Courtni became aware of how overloaded they were with calls, with many of them being related to mental health.  

“With the world shutting down and people losing their jobs, mental health crises were going up and so was substance use,” Courtni says. “We all know working in this field that mental health and substance use go hand-in-hand.” 

In responding to calls during the pandemic and lockdown, Courtni witnessed just how much COVID was impacting her community and those with substance use disorder. 

“For a lot of people. . . the only thing they have as a coping skill – to release those emotions and that stress and anxiety – is to use something to make them feel better,” says Courtni. “People who normally don’t suffer from mental health problems, or those that just have generalized anxiety, are now trying to cope with depression and are turning to substance use to do that.” 

Tornadoes don’t impact all communities equally. More marginalized communities don’t have as strong of structures to sustain themselves. When a tornado hits, they are more brutally damaged, even in less severe conditions. They have fewer resources to respond to the disaster crisis and scant reserves to fall back on when their communities lose infrastructure. The convergence of the COVID-19 Pandemic and the addiction and overdose epidemic— what is known as a ‘syndemic’ —has not impacted all communities equally. We need to address the long-standing deficits and historic gaps that have been exposed by the crises that have unfolded across all our communities.  

The syndemic has also taken its toll on the first responders that millions rely on each day. In many communities across the country, EMS first responders were already answering large volumes of calls related to overdoses. The COVID-19 pandemic just created even more of a burden. Anxieties over getting and spreading COVID to their families, coupled with the stress and increasing number of calls became almost unbearable for most. Many first responders interviewed for this article expressed experiencing compassion fatigue and had an internal conflict of wanting to help, but not feeling that compassion towards individuals who were overdosing. This internal struggle and burnout were something that they each had to cope with and work through, as they navigated through their emotions and the toll of being on the front lines of both crises. 

The substance use care system was already deep into what would be considered a severe workforce crisis, simmering for over at least the last two decades. In 2019, the Annapolis Coalition released a report commissioned by SAMHSA on our pre-COVID workforce crisis. It was estimated then that there was a need for 1,103,338 peer support workers and 1,436,228 behavioral health counselors, as part of the 4,486,865 behavioral health workers conservatively anticipated at the time of this report to meet the current need . However, it is even worse now. Recovery support systems have suffered from inconsistent funding and low compensation, and the result has been devastating. A recent occurrence has been individuals all over the country walking out of their jobs in what has been dubbed ‘The Great Resignation of 2021’. We are witnessing some recovery programs with 100% turnover of peer staff. The loss of recovery infrastructure at a time of greatest need is unsustainable. To rebuild, we must create a trauma and recovery-informed substance use disorder service system that is inviting for people to work in, focused on long-term healing and inclusive of the recovery community in all its diversity. 

A fundamental facet of how communities successfully respond after a disaster includes meaningful inclusion of all the members of that community in the rebuilding process. The first responder and recovery workforce have been working in this dynamic of assisting communities even as their own support systems have been ravaged. We must address the needs of first responders and peer workers in ways that foster healing at the individual and community level with stable funding at both the federal and state levels. A good start to this would be supporting the ten-percent recovery support set-aside in our federal Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment Block Grant (SABG).  

The Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment Block Grant (SABG) enables states and jurisdictions to provide prevention, treatment, and recovery support services. This federal funding allows programs to plan, implement, and evaluate activities related to substance use. Grantees are required to spend at least 20% of SABG dollars on primary prevention strategies. Currently, a similar carve-out for recovery support services is in discussion for the federal FY2022 budget. Fondly referred to as the Recovery Set-Aside, this new dedicated funding would require Grantees to spend at least 10% of SABG dollars on recovery services and strategies to strengthening recovery community organizations, collegiate recovery programs, recovery residences, and other peer recovery programs for substance use. Supporting and advocating for the Set-Aside is just one important step towards ensuring states can use these much-needed resources to support grassroots recovery community efforts in a sustainable and inclusive manner. Communities across the country depend on it, including yours. 

FACES & VOICES OF RECOVERY TO MANAGE AND LEAD INTERNATIONAL RECOVERY DAY, ADVANCING ANNUAL GLOBAL CELEBRATION

January 13, 2022

Washington, DC 

Faces & Voices of Recovery, a national advocacy organization and staple in the recovery community since 2001, is proud to further the work and dedication of International Recovery Day (IRD). Assuming responsibility of International Recovery Day – formerly International Recovery Day, Inc. – and all its assets, Faces & Voices will now lead and manage the continuation of this incredible event and its movement into the future.  

In 2019, John Winslow founded International Recovery Day, Inc. as an organization and event dedicated to promoting all recovery pathways from substance use disorders and educating the public on the value of recovery. Celebrated the 30th of September (Recovery Month), International Recovery Day is an opportunity to celebrate recovery with countries from across the globe! Although International Recovery Day, Inc. will no longer operate, the annual celebration remains. Entering its third year, Faces & Voices will continue this international celebration by working with organizations, entities, and enthusiastic supporters of recovery to illuminate monuments and structures in purple across the world on September 30th. 

 Founder, and former owner of International Recovery Day, John Winslow, shares his excitement for this transition, “From its earliest inception, I have pondered how best to ensure the continuity and growth of International Recovery Day… I felt an increasing recognition of the need to find and establish a solid home base for this new and tender venture that held the potential to impact millions. I feel confident this transition will ensure continuity of our annual global event and expand addiction recovery awareness and involvement to a much larger scale. It just feels right.” IRD blends seamlessly into Faces & Voices core service – advocacy. Continuing the tradition of International Recovery Day embraces Faces & Voices mission to change the way addiction and recovery are understood and embraced through advocacy, education, and leadership. 

Faces & Voices is ecstatic for this opportunity to heighten international awareness for recovery. “International Recovery Day has demonstrated that the global recovery movement has incredible power and provides a vital connection for millions around the world. We’re sincerely grateful for John Winslow’s leadership and vision for IRD. We’re honored to coordinate the annual observance and raise awareness for all recovery pathways from all addictions. We aim to engage individuals in every country around the world as a way to honor those in recovery and provide hope for those still struggling with addiction”, says Patty McCarthy, Chief Executive Officer, Faces & Voices of Recovery. 

International Recovery Day demonstrates the immense impact addiction recovery has on the world around us. From Niagara Falls in New York to Google Headquarters in California, and landmarks across the world lit purple on a single day to acknowledge recovery shows the tremendous affect that substance use disorder and recovery has on communities. 

International Recovery Day’s website – internationrecoveryday.org also provides space for people across the world to launch virtual fireworks on September 30th, to symbolize the hope and help that is offered through different recovery pathways and allow people to celebrate their own recovery – in a way that’s unique to them – and yet still a small part of a greater whole. 

Advancing IRD’s accelerated progress requires a revitalized sense of community from person-to-person gatherings or screen-to-screen hangouts, “around the world, the recovery movement is gaining traction and depth. We are thrilled to continue International Recovery Day and support equitable access to recovery for any human being who wants it. At Faces & Voices, we envision a global recovery movement that knows no bounds, borders, or barriers”, says Phil Rutherford, Chief Operating Officer, Faces & Voices of Recovery. 

Whether anyone or any group participate launching virtual fireworks or illuminating landmarks and buildings purple, International Recovery Day reminds us that “Recovery is for Everyone” and engaging and celebrating recovery extends well beyond a single person. 

Thank you for supporting us in our efforts and advocacy for a brighter future for all. 

 

For more information, visit internationalrecoveryday.org and www.facesandvoicesofrecovery.org 

 

Emily Porcelli, Marketing and Communications 

Faces & Voices of Recovery  

202-741-9392 

eporcelli@facesandvoicesofrecovery.org 

2021 ARCO Programmatic Evaluation Report

January 11, 2022

In February of 2020, I began my position with Faces & Voices of Recovery. With experience in grassroots organizing, working with RCOs and state systems, and peer training facilitation and curriculum development, I brought with me a passion to strengthen the national network of Recovery Community Organizations. As a woman in sustained recovery, I personally utilized peer services and had access to local RCOs. This personal experience helped to solidify my understanding of the vital role peers and RCOs have in building a foundation for recovery and across the recovery continuum journey.

I spent my first few months with the organization learning about our ARCO members. I learned from active ARCO members, members who opted to leave ARCO, and organizations who had unsuccessfully applied for membership. I sought a deeper understanding of their challenges and where Faces & Voices of Recovery, the RCO definition, and the 8 Criteria for RCOs and ARCO membership could improve. I grew my knowledge through rich and vulnerable conversations and by listening to understand. After a few short months, I submitted a proposal to complete a programmatic evaluation on our ARCO program with the intent to make changes that were responsive to challenges encountered by RCOs.

As the work on this evaluation began, Faces & Voices of Recovery became aware of how we as an organization, and many others in our national recovery network, failed to equitably represent Black; Indigenous; and people of color in our work to elevate and increase access to recovery. This was something I had already become aware of through the conversations I had been having with RCOs in our national system. The ARCO Programmatic evaluation grew from making responsive changes for developing RCOs into making responsive changes that were culturally congruent to BIPOC community members, LGBTQIA+ community members, People Who Use Drugs (PWUD), and harm reduction efforts that are inequitably welcomed and represented in recovery spaces.

A wise and brutally honest ARCO member expressed to me that Faces & Voices of Recovery, and the recovery movement as a whole, had a history of inequity and whiteness. This member had been a supporter of our organization for many years and continued to do so but was unabashed about his truth and experience as an African American, long-term recovering community member, and recovery advocate. This person committed to helping us do better if I committed to doing the work. You know who you are, and I thank you. It was with passion and empathy, along with support and access to resources to complete the ARCO Programmatic Evaluation from Patty McCarthy; Phillip Rutherford; and Joseph Hogan-Sanchez, that we began our journey to do better.

This report and the work conducted by our ARCO members is a mechanism to reevaluate our systems, embrace dialogue in the spirit of understanding, and challenge what we know to be true. It is a catalyst for change. It has changed our organization and ARCO membership, but more importantly, it has changed me, and I hope that it spurs change for you. Together, we can do better.

We are pleased to present to you the 2021 ARCO Programmatic Evaluation Report which can be accessed for online reading, downloading, and printing here.

 

Marianna Horowitz
Program Manager, Faces & Voices of Recovery

Posts from William White

The ASAM National Practice Guideline for the Use of Medications in the Treatment of Addiction Involving Opioid Use (Interpretation)

June 6, 2019

This ASAM Practice Guideline pocket card is intended to aid clinicians in their clinical decision-making and patient management. The Practice Guideline pocket card strives to identify and define clinical decision making junctures that meet the needs of most patients in most circumstances.

Principles of Drug Addiction Treatment: A Research-Based Guide (Third Edition)

June 6, 2019
Drug addiction is a complex disorder that can involve virtually every aspect of an individual’s functioning—in the family, at work and school, and in the community.

Opioid Use in Rural Communities

June 6, 2019
Opioids are prescribed for pain relief; most recognizable are morphine, hydrocodone, oxycodone, and fentanyl. Opioids also include the illegal drug, heroin. Opioid use disorder (OUD) (to include prescription drugs and heroin) is the fastest growing substance use problem in the nation. During 2008-13, 4.7% of U.S. residents ages 12 and older reported using non-medical opioids in the past year.

Journal of Drug Issues

June 6, 2019
According to nationally representative surveys, approximately 23 million Americans aged 12 or older meet diagnostic criteria for a past-year DSM-IV diagnosis of substance abuse or dependence (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration [SAMHSA], 2008). Substance-related conditions confer a massive burden of disease, huge social costs,and a financial impact which far exceeds that of highly prevalent medical disorders, such as heart disease or cancer (Gmel & Rehm, 2003; Harwood, 2000). Treatment is strongly associated with reducing the negative social and personal impact of substance-related disorders (Rehm, Taylor, & Room, 2006), yet only a small percentage of affected individuals access treatment (SAMHSA, 2008). Stigma surrounding substance-related conditions is cited as one of the major reasons why such individuals do not seek treatment (SAMHSA, 2008).

Guidance to States: Treatment Standards for Women with Substance Use Disorder

June 6, 2019
This guide is meant to assist States in creating their own, State‐specific, treatment standards for women with SUDs.  For each element, NASADAD has summarized the existing State standards and selected other resources pertaining to the service element.

Finding Quality Treatment for Substance Use Disorders

June 6, 2019
This fact sheet serves as a guide for individuals seeking behavioral health treatment. It provides three necessary steps to complete prior to utilizing a treatment center and the five signs of a quality treatment center, which include a review of the accreditation, medication, evidence-based practices, position on the role of families, and support networks.

Facing Addiction in America: The Surgeon General’s Report on Alcohol, Drugs, and Health

June 6, 2019
This Surgeon General’s Report has been created because of the important health and social problems associated with alcohol and drug misuse in America. As described in this Report, a comprehensive approach is needed to address substanceuse problems in the United States.

Evidence-Based Strategies for Preventing Opioid Overdose: What’s Working in the United States

June 6, 2019
Readers can use this document as a general reference for evidence-based practices that have been successfully implemented in the U.S. and are effective in reducing rates of opioid overdose. This document also provides readers with straightforward explanations of how and why these strategies work, summaries of major research on these topics, and examples of organizations from across the U.S. that have excelled at putting these strategies into practice.

Drugs, Brains, and Behavior: The Science of Addiction

June 6, 2019

For much of the past century, scientists studying drugs and drug use labored in the shadows of powerful myths and misconceptions about the nature of addiction. When scientists began to study addictive behavior in the 1930s, people addicted to drugs were thought to be morally flawed and lacking in willpower. Those views shaped society’s responses to drug use, treating it as a moral failing rather than a health problem, which led to an emphasis on punishment rather than prevention and treatment.

Decisions in Recovery: Treatment for Opioid Use Disorder Handbook

June 6, 2019
Are you finding it difficult to stop using? If you’ve thought about cutting down or cutting out narcotics, prescription pain medications, heroin, or other opioid drugs, this tool can help. You can also link to videos of real people talking about their lived experiences with many of the topics covered.