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


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 – 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 and    Emily Porcelli, Marketing and Communications  Faces & Voices of Recovery   202-741-9392 

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

CAPRSS Newsletter – September 2021

September 7, 2021

September 2021
Digital Newsletter
Now in its 32nd year, Recovery Month celebrates the gains made by those in recovery, just as we celebrate improvements made by those who are managing other health conditions such as hypertension, diabetes, asthma, and heart disease.

Each September, Recovery Month works to promote and support new evidence-based treatment and recovery practices, the emergence of a strong and proud recovery community, and the dedication of service providers and community members across the nation who make recovery in all its forms possible.

To share your events on our Recovery Month calendar and download the toolkit, click here.

Virtual Learning Community

Join us on September 8th from 12pm – 1pm EST for our CAPRSS Virtual Learning Community. In honor of National Recovery Month, this month’s topic is How We Celebrate our Teams. This topic speaks directly to the CAPRSS domain Peer Leadership Development and specifically the standard of Retention. Join Joseph Hogan-Sanchez, Director of Programs, and Nelson Spence, Accreditation Services Coordinator, who will be facilitating this conversation and share how your organization celebrates the work of its peer leaders!
Register Here!

Ethics Tip Sheet

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.

Here is a Tip Sheet that speaks to the CAPRSS domain of Ethical Framework for Service Delivery:

View & Download Tip Sheet Here!

Upcoming Webinars

Accreditation 101 – October 1, 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 – September 17, 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 virtually over the course of three 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

OFFICIAL ANNOUNCEMENT – Summit is going virtual!

September 1, 2021

Faces & Voices Update
September 1, 2021

The 20th Anniversary Summit is Moving to a Virtual-Only event

We’ve been closely monitoring the situation regarding COVID-19 and associated variants, and we have come to the difficult decision to move our 20th Anniversary Summit to an all-virtual format.

After many conversations with constituents, presenters, and staff, the consensus is that conditions are such that it would be a challenge to ensure the health and safety of participants, especially because our community is at higher risk for serious complications of the COVID-19 virus. Although we are disappointed that we won’t be able to get together in person again this year, we believe this to be the safest course of action.
The good news is that we plan a vibrant online event with many opportunities for networking, participation, and education, as we did last year. All the events that were scheduled for the physical event will be included in the virtual event.
The virtual format eliminates travel costs for attendees, so we welcome you, your colleagues, and peers to register today for the 20th Anniversary Summit!

We’ll release the full schedule shortly, but some of our speakers include:

  • William L. White – Distinguished Recovery Historian
  • Dr. Miriam Delphin-Rittmon – Assistant Secretary SAMHSA
  • William Cope Moyers – VP of Public Affairs & Community Relations for Hazelden Betty Ford
  • Tom Hill – Senior policy advisor at the White House ONDCP
  • Tracie Gardner – Legal Action Center’s VP of Policy Advocacy
  • Dr. John Kelly – Founder & Director of Recovery Research Institute
  • Dr. Nora Volkow – Director of NIDA
Visit here for more Information & Registration

NRI Newsletter – August 2021

August 24, 2021

August 2021
Digital Newsletter

Free Trainings Available!

The Virtual Learning Community A series of online learning community sessions.  The format includes a presentation by a subject matter expert followed by discussion. Led by Faces & Voices of Recovery in collaboration with the Opioid Response Network. Learn more and register using the links provided below.

More Info Here!
The Recovery Ambassador Program
is a training that prepares individuals to advance public understanding and appropriate responses to addiction. The training program consists of a combination of Our Stories Have Power Recovery Messaging, the Science of Addiction & Recovery, and the Recovery Ambassador curriculum.

Presenters: Michael Askew and Flo Hilliard

11:00am to 5:00pm ET

August 30 – September 1, 2021

Register Here!

What NRI has been up to!

We have been busy delivering virtual trainings all over the nation. Our virtual trainings are just as interactive as our in-person trainings! We have breakout rooms, small and large group activities, and plenty of time for networking among participants.

Here are some comments from recent virtual attendees:

“Being brand new to my position, it was helpful to understand more about Faces & Voice of Recovery, and the RCO community that is out there. The trainers also brought some new ideas and perspectives to topics, which was awesome!”
RCO Bootcamp, 7/15/2021

“Every detail can be reflected on my daily work. Scenarios and the practice were the most useful parts!”
Ethics, 7/21/2021

“The entire training was awesome! Much more than I expected. I am extremely grateful to and the trainers. Peace Light and Love!!”
Organizational Development, 7/21/2021 – 7/23/2021

Faces & Voices of Recovery is proud to be a NAADAC Approved Education Provider.
Reduced training rates are available for Faces & Voices Affiliates and for Members of the Association of Recovery Community Organizations (ARCO).
Join Today!

Join us October 3-6th!

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.

Registration and room reservations are up! Secure your spot today!

Learn More Here!

Recent Senate Caucus Hearing on the State of Treatment and Recovery in U.S.

August 13, 2021

On July 20, The Senate Caucus on International Narcotics Control held a hearing on the state of treatment and recovery in the United States, entitled “The Federal Response to the Drug Overdose Epidemic.” Witnesses included federal officials Regina LaBelle (Acting Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy) and Tom Coderre (Acting Director of the Substance Abuse Mental Health Services Administration.) The role of recovery support services was a central theme of the testimony.

Tom Coderre shared his personal story of recovery and urged lawmakers to see the positive results it has yielded. “True success with substance use disorder also involves enduring efforts, many of which are through recovery supports,” he stated.

Coderre cited that Recovery Support efforts have been part of SAMHSA’s portfolio since the late 1990s. SAMHSA first launched the Recovery Community Support Program, later the Recovery Community Services Program (RCSP) in 1998. This grant helped launch and supported the development and strengthening of recovery community organizations (RCOs). Their focus has been emphasizing the critical importance of as a bi-directional bridge between communities and formal systems, including SUD treatment, and the criminal justice and child welfare systems.  Coderre praised RCOs for being peer-led and managed.

Also receiving attention in the hearing were two newer grant initiatives, the RCSP 5-year grant program and the Treatment, Recovery and Workforce Support Grants (Workforce Support). The 5-year RCSP grants build peer recovery support services capacity through recovery community centers, and the Workforce Support grants enhance employment opportunities for individuals in recovery from SUDs by addressing gaps in services and providing opportunities for veterans, homeless individuals, and those reentering the community after incarceration. Coderre mentioned that also of note, SAMHSA developed the targeted capacity expansion-peer to peer (TCE-PTP) grant portfolio forging the path for the extensive ongoing training of peers towards certification and expanding the workforce. This portfolio has provided state recognition for peer support service providers in the workplace and, in some states where allowable, Medicaid reimbursement for their services.

Since 2017, SAMHSA allocated over 60 million dollars to recovery support initiatives, but Coderre urged the Senate to do more to build out the continuum. Following the lead of President Biden’s FY 2022 Budget, he reiterated his call for a 10 percent set aside for recovery support services in the Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment Block Grant which would provide states with funding to further invest in building out recovery support services.

Acting Director LaBelle reiterated the priorities of the Biden Administration, including a need to expand access to recovery support services, as well as the advancement of recovery-ready workplaces. She recognized that recovery support services are offered in various institutional and community-based settings and include peer support services and engagement, recovery housing, recovery community centers, and recovery programs in high schools and colleges, and increased capacity and infrastructure of these programs will create strong resource networks to equip communities to support recovery for everyone. The required infrastructure includes a safe, reliable, and affordable means of transportation to access recovery support services. She pledged that ONDCP will work with Federal partners, State, local, and Tribal governments, and recovery housing stakeholders to begin developing sustainability protocols for recovery housing, including certification, payment models, evidence-based practices, and technical assistance.

Public Policy Update – August 2021

August 13, 2021

Aug 2021
Advocacy and Policy

F&V Advocacy and Federal Policy News

Aug 30th – What Does the Future Hold for The  Recovery Community?

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.

Featured Panelists:

  • Meghan Hetfield, Certified Addiction Recovery Coach and Certified Recovery Peer Advocate
  • Dharma Mirza, Equity & Justice Fellow at ARHE & Oregon Measure 110 Oversight & Accountability Council Member
  • Christina Love, Advocacy Initiative Specialist, Alaska Network on Domestic Violence & Sexual Assault (ANDVSA)
Register Now
Didn’t catch this week’s webinar? There’s still time to watch Carol McDaid’s presentation on Advocacy 101 [watch here].

Making the Recovery Set-Aside Permanent

Last week, U.S. Representative Spanberger introduced bipartisan bill, Support Recovery from Addiction Act, to “amend the Public Health Service Act to require States receiving a block grant for prevention and treatment of substance abuse to allocate not less than 10 percent for recovery support services, and for other purposes”. This legislation was developed with input from Faces & Voices of Recovery and we are grateful for Congresswoman Spanberger’s leadership and forethought in advocating for the Recovery Set-Aside beyond FY2022 [bill text].

Endorse the Recovery Set-Aside

A total of 327 organizations have endorsed the Recovery Set-Aside. Share your organizations support and join the momentum to enact a Recovery Set-Aside into the SABG.

National Organizations supporting the Recovery Set-Aside include: Faces & Voices of Recovery, Third Horizon Strategies, All Sober, Association of Recovery High Schools, Association of Recovery in Higher Education, C4 Innovations, C4 Recovery Foundation, Community Catalyst, Entertainment Industries Council (EIC), Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation, International Recovery Day, Inc., Kennedy Forum, Legal Action Center, National Alliance for Medication Assisted (NAMA) Recovery, National Alliance for Recovery Residences, National Center for Advocacy and Recovery for Behavioral Health (NCAAR-BH), National Rural Social Work Caucus, Oxford House, Partnership to End Addiction, SAFE Project, Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM), The Voices Project, Treatment Communities of America, Young People in Recovery

Act Now

Senate Caucus Hearing

On July 20, The Senate Caucus on International Narcotics Control held a hearing on the state of treatment and recovery in the United States, entitled “The Federal Response to the Drug Overdose Epidemic.” Witnesses included federal officials Regina LaBelle and Tom Coderre [… read more]

End the Ban on Public Assistance for Drug Convictions

For decades, there’s been a federal lifetime ban on people with drug convictions from accessing nutritional and other forms of critical public assistance. The MEAL Act would lift the ban — Join our friends at Drug Policy Alliance – tell your Senators to cosponsor the bill and fight to get in included in the budget.

Send Letter Now

The 2001 & 2021 Recovery Summits

August 12, 2021

A Historical Summit 

by: Bill White

In 2001, more than 130 recovery advocates from more than 30 states gathered in Saint Paul, Minnesota at the invitation of the Johnson Institute’s Alliance Project and with support of the Center for Substance Abuse Treatment’s (CSAT) Recovery Community Support Program (RCSP). That gathering marked the formal launch of a new recovery advocacy movement in the United States. The vision of culturally and politically mobilizing people in recovery and their families and allies was not a new vison, but those of us in St. Paul during those momentous days had an unmistakable feeling that we were participating in something that could reshape the future of addiction recovery. Now, with 20 years of hindsight, we can acknowledge what was so significant about this event.

The 2001 Recovery Summit marked a clarion call to shift the center of the alcohol and other drug problems arena to a focus on the lived solution for individuals, families, and communities. The shift from pathology/clinical paradigms to a “recovery paradigm” exerted pressure for urgent changes in policy, research, treatment, recovery support practice, and service system evaluation. The emergence or elevation of such concepts as recovery management, recovery-oriented systems of care, recovery coaching, recovery support services, recovery capital, recovery cascade (contagion), culture of recovery, community recovery, etc. would be missing from our current landscape without this paradigm shift, as would many recovery-focused research studies.

The 2001 Recovery Summit marked the passing of the recovery advocacy leadership torch from an earlier generation of advocacy organizations, most notably the National Committee for Education on Alcoholism (1944, later the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence) and the Society of Americans for Recovery (1991). The founding of Faces and Voices of Recovery as an outcome of the Summit set the stage for subsequent efforts, including Young People in Recovery, Facing Addiction, Shatterproof, the Recovery Advocacy ProjectLatino Recovery Advocacy, Black Faces Black Voices, the African American Federation of Recovery Organizations, and other national recovery advocacy efforts. Faces and Voices provided the connecting tissue for RCO leaders to gather, communicate, share resources, and speak with a collective voice. The 2001 Recovery Summit set the foundation for the landmark accomplishments of Faces and Voices of Recovery and other recovery advocacy organizations.

The 2001 Recovery Summit marked the coming of age of a new organizational entity—the grassroots recovery community organization (RCO). The emerging RCO was not a recovery mutual aid fellowship, an alcohol/drug problems council, or a prevention or treatment organization, but rather an organization focused exclusively on recovery community mobilization, recovery advocacy, and recovery-focused community development. Subsequently linked through the Association of Recovery Community Organizations, RCOs have been instrumental in supporting further recovery community institution building, e.g., recovery community centers; recovery residences; occupational/workplace recovery programs; recovery high schools and collegiate recovery programs; recovery ministries; recovery-focused health, sports, and adventure programs; and recovery-focused projects in music, theatre, art, and community service.

The 2001 Recovery Summit marked a milestone in multicultural and multiple pathway recovery advocacy. The 2001 Summit was diverse in its representation of women, communities of color, and the LGBTQ community as well as its representation of diverse pathways of addiction recovery. The Summit was historically noteworthy in bringing affected family members into the advocacy movement on an equal footing with those with lived experience of addiction recovery. The Summit marked a milestone: people representing diverse pathways and styles of recovery seeing themselves collectively as “a people” with shared needs and aspirations. That “peoplehood” inspired subsequent calls for authentic and diverse recovery representation at all levels of decision-making within the AOD problems arena.

The 2001 Recovery Summit marked an early vision—the seed—of the integration of primary prevention, harm reduction, early intervention, treatment, and peer recovery support—a process that continues to this day through efforts to delineate roles and responsibilities as well as efforts of coordination and collaboration across this service and support continuum. Prior to the 2001 Recovery Summit, recovery never appeared on the alcohol and other drug service continuum. The emergence of peer recovery support services as a distinct service entity following the Summit constitutes a significant historical milestone.

What the 2001 Recovery Summit did more than anything was weld the personal commitments of individuals and programs into a national recovery advocacy movement. We had a name; a consensus on vision, goals, and tactics; and, most importantly, we had mutually supportive relationships across the country that bound us together in common cause. I look forward to our gathering this October to revision the future of recovery advocacy in the United States.


An Invitation to Return to Saint Paul

by: Philip Rutherford

Even before my arrival at Faces & Voices, I learned about the rich history and significance of the St. Paul summit that happened on October 5, 2001. While working at a Minnesota RCO, I attended an event put on by The Association of Recovery Community Organizations (ARCO) that was modeled after the original summit. At the time, it was called the ARCO Executive Directors Leadership Academy, and it transformed both my personal understanding of the recovery movement, and ultimately the trajectory of my organization. ARCO’s roots are connected to the powerful movement that arose from the St. Paul summit and that continue to propel the work of countless organizations today.

On October 3, 2021, at the River Centre in St. Paul, Minnesota, we will convene another summit to commemorate the passing of the 20th anniversary of that event. We will examine where we are today and look toward the future. The event will have plenary speakers like Bill White, Dr. Nora Volkow, William Moyers Jr. and Dr. Delphin-Rittmon, and will include six different tracks of learning concentrations around Advocacy, Peer Recovery Support Services, Capacity Building, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, Family and Youth, and Leadership Development.

Many things have changed about the recovery movement since 2001. At Faces & Voices, we see this event as an opportunity to celebrate the tireless efforts of those who have come before us, honor those in the trenches right now, and help clear a path for anyone who wants to join the journey. Similarly, some things haven’t changed, and we see this event as an opportunity to have frank and open discussions about where change is required.

If 2020 has taught me anything, it is to expect the unexpected, and as such, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention COVID-19 and the possibility of rates of infection affecting our plans. The COVID-19 Delta and Lambda variants are influencing how the celebration will take place. We are closely monitoring guidelines and restrictions and will make decisions as the situation unfolds.

Unless restrictions prohibit us from gathering, we plan on hosting the conference in-person. We understand some people may be hesitant to attend, due to safety concerns.

If necessary, we will deliver a webinar-based, hybrid option to accommodate more people, so that we can still be together as a community for this important milestone. We will update you as we can. In addition, the River Centre has taken a number of precautions to ensure your safety.

Thank you for your patience and understanding during this time.

To make it a bit clearer, here are three possible scenarios as examples:

Scenario A– All is well. No mandates or city-wide orders in place regarding COVID

*Summit takes place as scheduled. Proof of Vaccine/Negative test results/mask required (with audit during event). We will stream only keynote events.

Scenario B– Positivity rates increase, moderate concern surrounding transmission. No mandates or city-wide orders in place regarding COVID.

*Summit takes place as scheduled. Proof of Vaccine/Negative test results/mask required (with audit during event). Social distancing rules will be enforced, hybrid conference occurs with streaming of each session.

Scenario C-All is not well, mandates or city-wide orders are in place regarding COVID

Summit takes place entirely in virtual space.

Gate: September 1 decision date

Nationwide positivity of >12% Scenario C

Nationwide positivity of 5-12% Scenario B

Nationwide positivity of <5% Scenario A


Regardless of the eventual format, we extend a warm invitation for you to participate. You can register by clicking HERE. Let’s go make some more history.


UPDATE: On September 1, 2021 Faces & Voices of Recovery made the difficult decision to move the event to a completely virtual setting.

RDP Newsletter – August 2021

August 10, 2021

August 2021
Digital Newsletter

Coming Soon!
The Recovery Data Platform Dashboards!

Interested in snapshots of participant demographics, recovery service history, overall referral status, etc., look no further!  The RDP team is developing a series of Dashboards that will give you a look into the overall reach in your recovery community.  Dashboards will give you more insight and a quicker view of the flow of traffic through your recovery community organization.

Got any feedback or suggestions to share?!
We want to hear from you, submit a ticket and tell us your thoughts!

RDP and COVID-19

Faces & Voices of Recovery is collaborating with the Foundation for Opioid Response Efforts (FORE) on a project to measure vaccination rates among peers with Substance Use Disorders (SUD) or in Recovery. You will notice that in your RDP survey there are questions relating to peer vaccination status that is being utilized to measure rates across communities. Please utilize this field to support this project in creating safer spaces for peers in Recovery Community Organizations.

For more information and support on this project, please join us on. Monday August 9th at 2pm ET to collaborate across Recovery Community Organizations on strategies in having conversations with peers about vaccination rates.

If you have any questions regarding this survey question please feel free to reach out beforehand to Melissa Fleck, Special Projects Coordinator at

Click here to register for the session on August 9th at 2pm ET.
Click here to register for the session on August 18th at 1pm ET.

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 – August 2021

August 3, 2021

August 2021
Digital Newsletter

Congratulations to The Rase Project on Reaccreditation!

The RASE Project is a 501 (c) 3, non-profit, charitable organization. RASE is a Recovery Community Organization, which means that it is comprised entirely of staff and volunteers from the Recovery Community and it exists to serve the Recovery Community. Recovery Community is defined as: any person in, or seeking recovery, their families, close friends and other loved ones.

Virtual Learning Community

Join us on August 11th 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 bringing a presentation highlighting the excellent work being done at her organization.
Register Here!

Participatory Processes

Recovery Community Organizations (RCOs) and other peer programs are more productive as a recovery community and more supportive as a recovery space when they strive to meet folks where they’re at. Begin by creating an environment where participation is natural, enthusiastic, non-threatening — a culture where social roles within a community begin to emerge. We have designed this Tip Sheet specifically for you to understand some of the key characteristics of a participatory process and integrate it into your organization.
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 – September 3, 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

Posts from William White

Quality of Health in Addiction Recovery

June 18, 2020

The Good News: More than 22 million Americans have resolved a significant alcohol or other drug problem during their lifetime

The Problem: People in recovery from addiction continue to suffer inordinate rates of respiratory disease, kidney failure, heart disease, diabetes mellitus, hypertension, stroke, cancer, and premature death. (Eddie et al., 2019; White et al., 2013)

The Solution: At a personal level, changing unhealthy lifestyle habits can enhance life expectancy and improve quality of life in long-term recovery. At a systems level, integrating addiction treatment and allied recovery support services with primacy health care could reduce the burden of disease experienced by people in addiction recovery. One potential framework for such integration is the emerging field of lifestyle medicine.

Lifestyle Medicine

Lifestyle Medicine/Healthcare is a relatively new medical specialty spawned by the discovery that changes in daily habits can reduce the likelihood of contracting non-infectious chronic diseases by 80% and cancers by 40% (ACLM)—all accomplished without a pill or surgical procedure. Lifestyle medicine is predicated upon six pillars:

1) Eating predominantly whole food, plant-based foods, and avoiding processed foods as much as possible – Food is medicine.

2) Establishing and maintaining regular, consistent, and age-appropriate physical activity – Exercise is medicine, too.

3) Managing unhealthy stress to avoid anxiety and depression and to bolster one’s immune system.

4) Practicing good sleep hygiene (7 to 9 hours per night) for the average adult to maintain a strong immune system and regulate metabolism.

5) Understanding social connection as essential for emotional resiliency. (Social isolation is associated with early mortality.)

6) Avoiding tobacco and other toxins that can lead to heart disease and numerous types of cancer.

There is also a sometimes-controversial 7th pillar. Many lifestyle medicine specialists contend that having a strong spiritual connection completes a holistic approach to health and wellness.

By honing these seven pillars of lifestyle healthcare and infusing them into a program of recovery, we can profoundly influence the quality of addiction recovery and population-level health.

Let us explore each of the Lifestyle Medicine/Healthcare pillars in a little more detail and relate them to the recovery community.

Nutrition This is one of the most important lifestyle changes available to enhance recovery outcomes. Poor dietary choices and irregular food intake is one of the hallmarks of addiction and the malnourishment or undernourishment that undermines long-term health. Eating mostly plant-based foods consisting of fresh vegetables, fruits, beans, nuts, whole grains, and seeds can restore the gut microbiota and help prevent/control hypertension, heart disease, and diabetes. Poor nutrition can aggravate mental health conditions such as mood disorders including anxiety and depression.

Physical Activity There is ample evidence that regular aerobic exercise can reduce illicit drug use. It is also tremendously important in preventing, treating, and even curing some of the chronic diseases that can develop during addiction and extend into one’s time in recovery. Regular physical activity can have salutary effects on cholesterol levels, hypertension, and insulin regulation. Getting such activity can be as simple as walking, gardening, dancing, or doing household chores. Exercise is currently the initial prescription by psychiatrists for patients with mild to moderate depression. Exercise can be thought of as “body prayers” to supplement the spiritual prayers commonly used in recovery.

Stress Management is an essential recovery tool that should be of immense importance to the recovery community. Excessive alcohol and drug use often begins as a negative response to a stress stimulus. Beyond abstinence, stress (distress) can lead to anxiety, depression, obesity, and immune dysfunction. Developing improved strategies for coping is an essential task within the process of long-term addiction recovery.

Sleep Hygiene is an area of lifestyle that is commonly undervalued by the recovery community and society at large. Poor sleep habits lead to sluggishness, low attention span, decreased sociability, depressed mood, increased hunger, and reduced caloric expenditure (weight gain). Think about how the life of every living organism from a huge blue whale to a tiny mosquito depends on sleep. Sleep is recovery refreshment.

Recovery mutual aid organizations emphasize the importance of the role of social connections and recovery-supportive relationships—a role that has become more difficult with the social distancing demands imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic. There is little doubt about the power of the group experience toward facilitating and augmenting sobriety ad recovery. Social relationships also promote physical, mental, and emotional health. The single most important predictor of human happiness and long life is having strong social connections—connections that also exert a powerful influence on the durability and quality of addiction recovery.

Environmental toxins potentiate the development of chronic diseases. Such toxins include tobacco smoking and exposure to secondhand smoke. Cigarette smoke remains the leading preventable cause of death in the United States causing more than 450,000 deaths annually – approximately one in five deaths. In fact, smoking causes more deaths than the combination of alcohol, firearms, HIV, illegal drug use, and motor vehicle accidents. Additionally, more than 10 times as many US citizens have died prematurely from cigarette smoking than have died in all the wars fought by the United States (Frates, 2019). Research reviews (See HERE and HERE) reveal that people with substance use disorders and those recovering from such disorders have higher rates of smoking, are more likely to be heavy smokers, and more likely to die from tobacco-related diseases than from other substances. Equally important is research confirming that smoking cessation improves recovery rates for other substance use disorders and enhances global health of people in recovery. Spiritual growth is a common element across numerous religious, spiritual, and secular addiction recovery programs. It is just as important in Lifestyle Medicine/Healthcare to address this essential component of human existence – the discovery of life meaning and purpose and its related values and practices.  Good spiritual health is important for good physical, emotional and mental health and can be nourished through such rituals as prayer, meditation, and mindful reflection.

While overcoming addiction is a laudable achievement, developing and sustaining healthy lifestyle habits enhances the quality of our recoveries and our service to family and community. Lifestyle Medicine /Healthcare offers all of us, regardless of age, socioeconomic status, ethnic identity or cultural persuasion, or geographical setting the opportunity to take control of our health naturally and inexpensively. Embracing principles of lifestyle medicine can help us embrace recovery as far more than removal of alcohol and other drugs from an otherwise unchanged life.


American College of Lifestyle Medicine (ACLM), Infographic,

Eddie, D. E., Greene, M. C., White, W. L., & Kelly, J. F. (2019). Medical burden of disease among individuals in recovery from alcohol and other drug problems in the United States. Findings from the National Recovery Survey. Journal of Addiction Medicine13 (5), 385-395.

Frates, B., Joseph, R., & Peterson, J. A. (2019). Lifestyle Medicine Handbook: An Introduction to the Power of Healthy Habits, Healthy Learning.

Kelly, J. F., Bergman, B., Hoeppner, B., & White, W. L. (2017). Prevalence, pathways, and predictors of recovery from drug and alcohol problems in the United States Population: Implications for practice, research, and policy. Drug and Alcohol Dependence, 181, 162-169.

Rippe, J. (2018). Lifestyle Medicine: The Health Promoting Power of Daily Habits an PracticesAmerican Journal of Lifestyle Medicine12(6) 499- 512.

White, W.L., Weingartner, R. M., Levine, M., Evans, A.C., & Lamb, R. (2013) Recovery prevalence and health profile of people in recovery: Results of a Southeastern Pennsylvania survey on the resolution of alcohol and other drug problems. Journal of Psychoactive Drugs45(4), 287-296.

Language Matters: It Is Time We Change How We Talk About Addiction and its Treatment

June 3, 2020

The way we communicate about addiction, its treatment, and treatment outcomes matters to individuals affected by addiction, their families, and communities.

Recommended Use of Terminology in Addiction Medicine

June 3, 2020

The American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM)’s Journal of Addiction Medicine
and other leading journals have encouraged the use of precise nonstigmatizing
terminology. Furthermore, the International Society of Addiction Journal Editors (ISAJE)
published a recommendation statement against the use of stigmatizing terms. The ASAM
has published policy statements on the issue of terminology. The US Office of National
Drug Control Policy posted a draft statement on changing the language in our field.

Disaster Relief and People in Recovery

June 3, 2020

Michael Galipeau recently shared with me his experience of being denied access to disaster relief for his business due to past drug offenses during his addiction years. I encouraged Michael to write an essay on his experience as it reflected what I had heard from others in long-term recovery whose businesses have been disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic. After reading Michael’s detailed account, I asked Michael’s permission to share it with accompanying commentaries from Ryan Hampton and myself. Below are some excerpts from Michael’s essay and the related commentaries.

Excerpt from Michael Galipeau: “The loss of such businesses for our community would cripple our ability to meet the increased need for recovery support during and post-COVID-19. In addition to exacerbating the losses experienced by our community, families, and loved ones, we will find ourselves even more vulnerable and slow to replace these essential services. In light of the future financial insecurity of government funding, there are many difficult conversations ahead about budget cuts—budget cuts that have costs in human life. Prohibiting support for small business owners in recovery is poor public policy—especially as many offender programs offer small business startups as a preferred option for seeking gainful employment upon release from prison. Individuals who now must look elsewhere for financial opportunities in a world where opportunities and funding are increasingly scarce. Businesses, like mine, that are essential for the supportive infrastructure of our community.”

Excerpt from Ryan Hampton Commentary: “Michael Galipeau is a person in long-term recovery, a mentor, and a solid community partner. He’s given years to helping others, trained first responders, and supported thousands of people as they walked the long road back from addiction. Yet he, like many other people, is denied the basic support guaranteed to American business and non-profit operators in a national disaster. The federal government is discriminating against the recovery community by refusing to support many of our grassroots organizations and small businesses. They condemn us to death when they remove the financial support that other businesses—including businesses that sell potentially addictive substances to Americans—are freely given.”

Excerpt from Bill White Commentary: “Unsuccessful addiction recovery attempts have as much to do with these stigma-influenced environmental obstacles as they do intrapersonal obstacles to recovery. How can one achieve recovery when denied access to community spaces in which people in recovery are welcomed and valued? Grassroots recovery advocacy organizations have attempted to address the issue of social stigma for more than two decades, and notable efforts have been made to put public faces and voices to the recovery experience. Michael Galipeau’s experience is one more call to go beyond attitudinal change to dismantle the machinery through which addiction-related stigma has been institutionalized for more than a century. It is time to dismantle the scaffolding through which stigma produces specific arenas of discrimination.”

Those wishing to read the full account of Michael’s experience and Ryan and Bill’s full commentaries may click HERE.

We need more Recovery Custodians and fewer Recovery Rock Stars

June 1, 2020

Definition of Custodian – a person who has responsibility for or looks after something.

We are in a critical stage of the recovery movement in America, and we need to think carefully on what direction we go as a community and what we do to ensure that we expand recovery opportunities for the next generation. We have a stewardship responsibility to build upon the efforts of those pioneers that came before us to ensure that effective and accessible recovery support is available to the next generation. One risk to that future is the rise of recovery celebrities within recovery mutual aid organizations, other recovery community organizations, and within the larger recovery advocacy movement who seek to use their recovery notoriety as a platform for their own agenda and not as a means to further our common cause.

From nineteenth century temperance missionaries to this morning’s headlines, our history  is littered with well-intentioned people in recovery who flew too high into the heat and light of public attention only to crash and burn.  Resuming drug and alcohol addiction, getting arrested or simply becoming the antithesis of a good model of recovery confirms the worst biases people have about us.  This often ends up causing devastating harm to our collective efforts to show that we do achieve long-term recovery and we are good citizens.

We want to show the world that recovery is the probable outcome for those of us who are able to access proper care and support. However, asserting a public face and voice of recovery presents very real risks if we promote ourselves more than the goals of the recovery advocacy movement. Good recovery is grounded in humility, open-mindedness, and inclusion. Great harm comes to us when we abandon those central tenants of recovery. It can be easy for any among us to fall into this trap in the rarified air of public attention. This is why we should strive to be custodians of recovery and not rock stars.

If we are entirely honest, many of these inherent risks come from within ourselves. All humans face risks when seeking notoriety, but it can have additional consequences for those of us in recovery. The old timers in recovery knew that this was true when they adopted values to protect the collective from the risks of those who fall into the pitfall of ego, ambition and the drive for notoriety at the expense of the greater community of recovery. Personal anonymity at the level of press, radio, TV, films, and other media technologies such as the Internet is one of the concepts that has served to protect many recovery communities from these difficult dynamics.

Social media abounds with soap opera like examples of what we do not want the outward-facing view of the recovery community to be. We can ill afford to show this ugly face of infighting and egos run amok. We need to watch out for “recovery leaders” who seek out the intoxicating limelight of the media, including social media, for its own ends rather than a means towards an end. We can and must do better.

Eve Tushnet recently suggested in an essay entitled What 12-Step Programs Can Teach Us about the True Meaning of Work, “in the recovery world, the normative worker—the person whose job best expresses the inherent nature of work, its purpose and even its beauty—is the janitor.” The very idea of janitor or custodian conveys the values of humility, simplicity, and dedicated service as expressions of responsibility to a larger organization, community, or cause. The custodian role is not about joy of self-expression, but joy found in the work itself and in the higher purpose it serves. It demands moving beyond self-performance or expressions of personal rebellion to obedience to a cause beyond service to self. In contrast, the celebrity role is an imprisonment of self—an I-focused abyss that feeds ambition, competition, envy, resentment, and anger rather than collaboration.

The custodian role properly places the focus on what is being maintained and off the person or persons doing the maintaining. This is a healthier place for us to be in rather than in the role of celebrity or rock star. What does it mean to be a custodian of recovery? It is servant leadership. In servant leadership, the “leader” exists to serve the cause and not the other way around:

  • Sharing power, putting the community first and helping others to grow and thrive.
  • Consensus building around things that support recovery for everyone at the expense of no other group (do no harm)
  • Modeling the aspirational values of the recovery movement (walk the talk)
  • Focusing on the movement and not the the advocate
  • Taking the time to understand as deeply as possible the potential consequences of what is being advocated for before we act to avoid such unintended consequences (Advocacy without understanding the potential benefits and the potential harms is simply fire-starting.)
  • Serving with humility and integrity
  • Honoring all pathways of recovery
  • Modeling inclusion, compassion, resiliency, and hope
  • “Pulling each other up” in constructive ways so we all do a better job and not get ourselves into trouble or putting others down so we look better.
  • Not shaming, belittling, or bullying people or working behind their back to get our own agendas passed
  • Creating and sharing platforms where other people in recovery can represent the recovery experience and the needs of people seeking and in recovery.

Four daily rituals can help keep us centered on the larger meaning of our advocacy work as well as help sustain our personal health and perspective. Centering rituals, whether in the form of prayer, formal meditation, or just quiet reflection, help us “keep our eyes on the prize” and allow us to remain grounded. They help us narrow the gap between aspirational recovery values (humility, honesty, integrity, tolerance, gratitude, forgiveness, etc.) and our daily actions. Mirroring rituals allow us to commune with kindred spirits for mutual support, for feedback on the quality of our advocacy work, and to rekindle our passion for recovery advocacy.  Acts of self-care and personal responsibility allow time for self-repair and caring for the needs of our families and others of importance in our lives. Unpaid and unacknowledged acts of service help keep our egos in check and allow us to remain focused on the value of service to others and to our own recovery.

William Shakespeare once said that past is prologue. What has come before sets our stage, but does not define our future. We decide what happens next in this play. We control what happens in the next act and ultimately how our story collectively unfolds. This is the truth of recovery, we can and do change the past by redefining our future. We do this through careful reflection and painfully gained knowledge of our own hubris and shortfalls and the humility of understanding that we are not immune to repeating our own mistakes.

We know that fame and notoriety can be intoxicating. This is a particular risk for people in recovery. Those of us operating in the public space to advocate for others are at greater risk for harm because the work can be intoxicating.  History is replete with examples of public figures in recovery using drugs and alcohol after proclaiming themselves in recovery or some other bad thing like stealing money or getting arrested. This harms all of us. We must tend to dual risks: 1) assuring that our authentic voice is not hijacked by our own ego, and 2) avoiding seduction by puppet masters who want to control our message to serve their ideological or financial interests. Custodians remain faithful to their mission. They respect with deep humility the purpose of what they do, taking the work seriously without preoccupation with self.

Let’s be custodians of recovery and leave being rock stars to rock stars.

Annie E. Casey Racial Analysis

May 22, 2020

The Digitalization of Recovery: Supporting Those Left Behind

May 15, 2020

Recent essays in this series predicted the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the future of addiction recovery and celebrated the resilience of communities of recovery as they transitioned from face-to-face to online recovery support meetings. This brief article calls attention to those potentially left behind in this transition to digital support and explores the ethical and effective implementation of digital recovery support platforms. (For a more expansive version of this blog, click HERE.)

Transition Problems

To achieve an inclusive recovery community, we must be mindful of persons or communities for whom virtual platforms are unavailable or unsuitable. To achieve the maximum range of person-platform fit, we must insist on engagement of diverse recovery communities in the design, implementation, and evaluation of these new resources. PRO-A in Pennsylvania provides an example of standards for the delivery of ethical and inclusive e-recovery support in its 10 Assurances statement.

Problems of Access In our celebration of the explosive growth of online meetings and other virtual recovery supports, we should not forget those who lack access to such platforms. Those at risk of exclusion include: 1) people who are homeless, 2) people in rural and frontier communities, 3) people who rely on public facilities for internet access that are now closed due to pandemic mitigation measures, and 4) older adults in recovery and others who lack knowledge and skills in navigating online resources.

Problems of Comfort Put simply, there are many people who have access to digital recovery support but find the digital experience less helpful than face-to-face recovery support media. The potential size of populations using digital recovery support as a primary recovery support mechanism compared to those who use digital recovery support as an adjunct to face-to-face meetings remains unclear.

Recovery support comes in multiple media, including one-on-one communication, group interactions, print resources, and video/audio media. Successful recovery often involves combining and sequencing multiple activities across the stages of long-term recovery. The key for each person is to find a stage-appropriate fit between themselves and those ingredients that best serve to strengthen recovery initiation, maintenance, and enhanced quality of personal and family life. At a systems level, the key is to increase recovery prevalence within affected populations by assuring the broadest possible menu of recovery support options.

Problems of Vulnerability New e-treatment and e-recovery support media, like all digital media, raise privacy and security concerns. A particular concern is the potential of such media as tools of manipulation, exploitation, or harassment. In the delivery of e-counseling services, we must assure that the protections built into face-to-face counseling (e.g., informed consent, confidentiality, delivery of evidence-based practices, clinical supervision, standards of ethical practice, etc.) are not lost within the e-counseling process. In the delivery of peer recovery support, we must make group values, communication guidelines, and member expectations as transparent as possible (e.g., anonymity, crosstalk policies, etc.) at the outset of participant involvement and use our collective conscience as a guide to refine online recovery support norms and etiquette.

E-Recovery Limitations and Side Effects The transition from face-to-face to online recovery support has inherent limitations and potential risks. Much could be lost in this transition, such as pre- and post-meeting socializing, reduced depth of sharing from some and oversharing for others, erosion of sponsorship relationships to brief text exchanges, serial virtual performances without the sense of real connection and closeness, and a reduction or loss of service activities linked to face-to-face meetings.

When humans connect, something vital happens that brings us together in a powerful manner. We are only beginning to understand the science behind how and why these connections occur. As recent paper on autonomic mimicry and neurocognition suggests  one key that we experience emotional contagion through body language, eye contact, and the subconscious sharing of information. The digital medium available to us today may be limited in its capacity to transmit such subtle information and may result in a less powerful sense of connection.

As creatures of excess, there is a parallel risk of seduction into this digital world (e-addiction)—a risk enhanced by the now infinite number of online meetings and the advent of marathon meeting formats. Hyper-connection could result in an erosion of social skills and our comfort with face-to-face communication.

The future of e-recovery support hinges the pace of improvements in the technologies used in these media and the development of ethical guidelines to govern their operation.

E-Services within Larger Systems of Care and Support How will the rapid expansion of e-treatment and e-recovery support services effect larger systems of care for substance related problems? One concern is that funding authorities facing pandemic-spawned economic austerity may cut funding for traditional face-to-face services. The rationale for such action would likely be that online services can be delivered with less costs and by peers in recovery rather than by paid service professionals. E-recovery support should represent an expansion rather than a contraction of choices within the service menu. We know that 85% of us who are able to sustain recovery for five years stay in recovery for the rest of our lives. Digital support services may well augment and extend our current care strategies in meaningful ways to help even more of us reach that critical five-year benchmark mark.

Reaching Those at Risk of Being Left Behind

Digital recovery support is a cool—low touch–medium of communication. Our challenges are how to warm it up to fit the existing culture of recovery and how to reach people who are unable or uncomfortable in the digital world. Below is a summary of what we envision as possibilities.

*Including the voices of people in recovery in all decisions related to the design and conduct of digital recovery support platforms

*Providing digital devices to people in recovery who cannot afford them

*Workshops and one-one-one tutoring by recovery community organizations on mastering online recovery support media

*Providing online access via recovery community centers

*Greater reliance on recovery literature, including manual-guided recovery protocol replete with personal recovery stories

*Renewed and expanded access to earlier-era resources, e.g., recovery talks on cassettes and CDs

*Expanded availability of e-counseling services (e.g., telephonic or video counseling)

*Smaller face-to-face meetings with modified meeting rituals (using physical distancing precautions)

*Home visits by recovery coaches (using physical distancing precautions)

*Telephonic recovery check-ups and smaller telephonic recovery support meetings arranged by recovery coaches

*Expanded recovery literature distribution

*Use of traditional mail service for recovery support communications

*Expanded use of recovery magazines and newsletters as vehicles of recovery support

*Creating and communicating consensual ethics and etiquette of online recovery support

*Creating ethical guidelines for organizations hosting e-counseling and e-recovery support services, and

*Creating ethical complaint and disciplinary mechanisms for e-recovery support services.

The key is that we engage the digital champions, the digital doomsayers, and everyone in between with viable recovery support choices. We must aspire to a recovery standard that supports all pathways of recovery, all platforms, all modes of recovery, and all people who seek recovery. The future is not at all clear in respect to e-recovery support, but what is clear is that it will be an increasingly visible platform of recovery support. What is not clear is how effective and authentic it will be and who it will include and exclude. The answers to those questions are up to us.

The Impact of COVID-19 on Black and Latino communities in the U.S.

May 13, 2020

The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has revealed deep-seated inequities in health care for communities of color, and amplifies social and economic factors that contribute to poor health outcomes. Recent news reports indicate that the pandemic disproportionately impacts communities of color, compounding longstanding racial disparities. Learn more about the impact of COVID-19 on Black and Latino communities in the U.S. from SAMHSA’s Office of Behavioral Health Equity new resource document.


Recovery After the Pandemic

May 12, 2020

We might try to explain the phenomenon of the plague, but, above all, should learn what it had to teach us. –Albert Camus, The Plague (1948)

The novel coronavirus pandemic will exert profound effects on the future of addiction treatment and recovery. Based on the pandemic’s anticipated reach, severity, and duration, we will likely witness the following in the months and years to come.

*Recovery support needs will increase as direct and indirect consequence of the pandemic by accelerating substance use disorder (SUD) progression and increasing SUD vulnerability among a larger pool of people self-medicating pandemic-related distress.

*Recovery support service needs will intensify due to the closure of local addiction treatment programs that lack sufficient capitalization to weather the loss of service income.

*The movement of recovery support to a primarily digital culture and the expansion of E-treatment and E-recovery support services will accelerate exponentially, exposing the value, limitations, and unintended consequences of this shift.

*The economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic will be far greater and more prolonged than presently anticipated, which will extend the historical focus of recovery communities on emotional and social recovery support into the arena of financial and employment assistance.

*The strong service ethic within communities of recovery will be extended in more formal ways to address the larger needs of local communities.

*Increased international contact among people in recovery sharing digital recovery support platforms and improved digital language translation technologies will contribute to the rise of a global recovery community.

*Increased knowledge of public health concepts and technologies will spur increased interest in population-based interventions to prevent and mitigate alcohol and other drug problems across the spectrums of severity, complexity, and chronicity.

*The elevated status of scientists and science-grounded professional helpers emerging from the pandemic will spur increased expectations for research reporting on methods of addiction treatment and recovery support and a backlash against, highly promoted products and services confirmed to be unhelpful or harmful.

*The coronavirus pandemic’s exposure of the weaknesses of the U.S. healthcare system will accelerate demands for health care reform—reforms that will potentially exert profound effects on the future of addiction treatment and recovery support.

*When the viral dust settles and the body count is complete, the health disparities between Black and White and between the wealthy and poor and working class people will expose wrenching realities we as a culture can no longer ignore.

Click HERE to read an expanded discussion of these predictions.

Change can be regressive or progressive, and change always carries the shadow of unexpected consequences. We must move gently into the brave new world that is upon us, taking care that we do not abandon long-held core values in our efforts to survive, at the same time we capitalize on new opportunities to expand the reach of recovery.

Based on what you have observed in your local community, what predictions would you add to this list?

COVID-19 And Addiction Recovery (Bill White, Ken Pomerance & Ronald Tannebaum)

May 1, 2020

People in addiction recovery possess multiple vulnerabilities as they face the personal challenges of the novel coronavirus pandemic. Compared to the general population, they are older and have higher rates of co-occurring health conditions. Those in early recovery may have limited capacities for coping with the emotional, relational, and financial distress imposed by the pandemic. And many people in recovery face the loss of the social support that has been central to their recovery—access to regular face-to-face recovery support meetings, meetings with recovery mentors, and socializing with others in recovery. Recent articles and commentaries have highlighted these vulnerabilities, but there is a larger, less told story: the remarkable resilience of people in recovery and communities of recovery as they face the threats posed by the pandemic.

People in recovery are turning the threats of the pandemic into opportunities for reflection, growth, and service to others. They are on the frontlines battling this epidemic in their roles as physicians, nurses, allied health professionals, police officers and other first responders, postal workers, bus drivers, farmers, grocery and food delivery workers, National Guard members, and numerous other essential service roles. They are donating money to pandemic relief efforts, sewing masks, volunteering at food banks, checking in on their most isolated family members and friends, and providing personal support to the most vulnerable members of the recovery community.

Yes, some people in recovery will become sick and some will die from complications of COVID-19. Yes, we need to support the sick and mourn those we have lost, but we also need to recognize and honor the resilience and courage of those giving back at the height of this pandemic, and we need to celebrate how communities of recovery are adapting to this pandemic.

At a collective level, the resilience and creativity elicited by the pandemic is evident in the speed at which recovery support has moved from face-to-face to digital platforms. This is evident from the movement of existing face-to-face mutual aid meetings to online meetings either through the creation of new online meetings via platforms such as Zoom and other digital meeting platforms or the rapid membership growth within existing independent online recovery support meeting platforms such as In The Rooms.

In The Rooms is a free-standing online recovery social network available 24 / 7 / 365 founded by Ken Pomerance and Ronald Tannebaum in 2008. Its purpose is to “give recovering addicts a place to meet and socialize when they’re not in face-to-face meetings.” In the Rooms brings together members of the global recovery community to experience a vast array of tools that can enhance and expand one’s recovery experience and social connectedness. In The Rooms offers live meetings, discussion groups, and other recovery support forums to more than 650,000 people from around the world. It offers 153 live online meetings a week representing 40 different fellowship groups, including 65 AA meetings, 30 NA meetings, many other 12 Step meetings, Non-12 Step recovery support groups, and numerous specialty meetings. In the Rooms is designed to assure anonymity, with options for use of nickname, avatar, or silhouette with no personal identifying information.

In The Rooms experienced dramatic increases in participation beginning in March—from a pre-pandemic average of 200 new member registrations per day to more than 2,500 per day, as well as an explosive increase in the number of people participating in each online meeting—now as many as 500. In The Rooms has responded to these changes by:

*extending meeting times to give more participants time to share,

*adding ten new NA meetings,

*creating Marathon AA and NA Meetings that run from 9 am to 10 pm on weekends, and

*adding new ACA groups, a coronavirus support group, a NAMI support meeting, a She Recovers meeting, a Chemsex meeting, and an illness and recovery support group meeting.

Recent changes in membership, participation levels, and new support media provided via In The Rooms illustrate the remarkable adaptability of people in recovery and recovery support organizations as they respond to the coronavirus pandemic.

People in recovery and communities of recovery will come out of this pandemic stronger than ever—more confident of their resilience, more ecumenical in embracing diverse pathways and styles of recovery, and more globally interconnected. We will mourn our losses, but step into the future more assured of our capacity for survival and service.