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.

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Advocacy & Outreach Program Assistant

November 21, 2022
Faces & Voices of Recovery is seeking an Advocacy & Outreach Program Assistant. 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.  Send resume and cover letter to Job purpose

The Advocacy & Outreach ProgramAssistant provides support for the Public Affairs department within the organization. The Program Assistant works on advocacy and public policy projects collaboratively with team members on activities such as awareness campaigns, legislative issues, public speaking events, constituent training, national and international outreach.The primary purpose is to provide administrative support to ensure project goals are met efficiently and in a timely manner.

Duties & Responsibilities
  • Answer phone and emails and respond to requests for information and resources
  • Create calendar events in Outlook
  • Maintain project files in Sharepoint
  • Enter data into Salesforce
  • Host virtual meetings through the Zoom platform
  • Schedule conference calls and meetings
  • Prepare meeting materials and record meeting notes
  • Assist with collecting project data and preparing reports
  • Update website as needed
  • Create surveys and collect results
  • Coordinate travel and event logistics
  • Other administrative duties
  • Strong commitment and enthusiasm for recovery advocacy and the people and groups we serve around the country
  • Must be a self-starter with the ability to work independently and as a team.
  • Administrative experience required
  • Strong aptitude for technology required
  • Proficient in Microsoft Office Suite, including SharePoint
  • Experience with Salesforce, WordPress, Survey Monkey, Doodle a plus
  • Superior internet research skills
  • Excellent interpersonal, organizational, and written/oral communication skills
  • Copy editing skills a plus
  • Bachelor’s degree preferred; Associate (AA) or equivalent administrative experience required
  • $40,000 – $45,000 – Commensurate with experience.
Working conditions

Faces & Voices of Recovery employs remote workers, but projects may require staff to travel. All necessary personal arrangements for travel; childcare, house care, etc. should be done on staff personal time. Errands, like shipping and mailing, that pertain to projects can be done during work hours. All staff are required to maintain a suitable home office environment and be working and available to reached during office hours –9-5 ET unless discussed otherwise with supervisor.

Physical requirements 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 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 event’s needs. Direct Reports


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


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



Director of Public Affairs

November 10, 2022

Faces & Voices of Recovery is seeking a Director of Public Affairs.

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. 

Send resume and cover letter to

Job purpose

The Director of Public Affairs works closely with the senior management team to develop, advance, and oversee the public affairs activities of Faces & Voices of Recovery, including the organization’s communications, marketing, public relations, government relations, policy, and advocacy strategies.

Focus Area

Special focus of this position includes leveraging the existing initiatives and expertise of the organization to develop a cohesive message and platform for all relevant stakeholders, including members of the recovery advocacy community, government leaders, and the general public. It includes understanding, identifying, and maximizing opportunities to advance public policy issues relevant to the organization and developing and implementing communications strategies. This position requires the ability to swiftly maximize opportunities and mitigate risks, while building positive relationships with stakeholders, the media, and the public. The Director will leverage the expertise of board members, public policy committee and other partners to implement communications and public relations plans to help operationalize the mission and vision of Faces & Voices of Recovery.

Primary Responsibilities

The Director of Public Affairs leads the Public Affairs team and works collaboratively across departments to achieve the following:

  • Develop and implement cohesive national messaging around addiction recovery
  • Develop and implement a process for measuring national impact
  • Identify and leverage opportunities to generate national, regional and local news
  • Develop and implement public relations and communications strategies
  • Oversee implementation of a cross-functional government relations, public policy and advocacy strategy
  • Oversee implementation of a cross-functional marketing strategy for products and services
  • Build, manage, and strengthen relationships with government officials, stakeholders in the recovery advocacy community including Recovery Community Organizations (RCOs), and industry partners at the local, state, and federal levels
  • Generate written content, including press releases, op-eds, articles, keynote speeches, talking points, and other promotional materials for public consumption and internal use
  • Oversee the creation of high-quality briefing materials for political audiences to support public policy strategy and advocacy priorities
  • Ensure the organization’s commitment to justice, diversity, equity, and inclusion (J-DEI) is reflected throughout all communications, publications, materials, and messaging
  • Improve and oversee communications platforms and delivery vehicles, including social media platforms
  • Develop and oversee execution of work plans and project plans to achieve the organization’s public relations, communications, and policy goals and vision
  • Develop a wide range of new opportunities to maximize the impact of the organization.


  • At least 5 years of progressive experience in public affairs related to social justice, healthcare, and/or behavioral healthcare
  • Experience with running grassroots campaigns to engage members and other stakeholders in policy discussions is a plus
  • A strong track record of positioning an organization to achieve tangible outcomes in a competitive communications environment
  • Ability to quickly develop subject matter expertise on a range of issues and translate complex issues and ideas for public consumption
  • Ability to coach, mentor, and support leaders and emerging leaders at all levels of the organizations as public spokespeople, and to function as the organization’s spokesperson when needed and appropriate
  • Expertise in developing messaging strategies
  • Ability to communicate with the public about why we back certain policies and why advocates should make their voices heard to influence government decisions
  • Experience in remote work and virtual platforms a plus
  • Values recognizing accomplishments and abilities of other staff
  • Passionate about Faces & Voices mission and able to promote and communicate the mission and values to external and internal stakeholders


  • A Bachelor’s Degree in public relations, communications, political science, healthcare administration, or another related field, is required for this position
  • Master’s Degree a plus. Relevant experience may be considered as a possible substitution

Specialized Knowledge

  • Demonstrates an understanding of diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) and a willingness to grow with the team in our DEI journey
  • Thorough understanding of how the internet and social media have transformed grassroots advocacy
  • Understanding of addiction and recovery principles, recovery support services and Recovery Community Organizations


  • Skilled in effective supervision and training of staff
  • Skilled in speaking and writing effectively
  • Skilled in providing public presentations and trainings
  • Proficient in Microsoft Office Suite


  • Ability to establish and maintain effective working relationships with staff and representatives from other agencies, organizations, and the general public
  • Ability to use technology to maintain records
  • Ability to juggle multiple priorities in fast-paced environment
  • Ability to be agile and respond to changing needs and priorities quickly
  • Ability to facilitate teamwork and individualized professional growth among direct reports


  • $80,000 – $90,000 – 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 equipment. Some occasions may call for moving equipment weighing up to 50 pounds.

Direct Reports

Marketing and Communications Manager; Advocacy and Outreach Manager

Technical Host

May 13, 2022

Faces & Voices of Recovery is seeking a dynamic person to assist in providing technical support for our training courses starting immediately.  

This is an independent contractor role, up to 20 hours per week, as needed. Technical Hosts must be available to work between 9:00 am – 6:00 pm EST (Eastern Standard Time). 


Tasks and Responsibilities  

Technical Hosts will assist the Faces & Voices of Recovery’s National Recovery Institute by providing technical support for virtual training via the Zoom platform.  

 Position Duties and Responsibilities 

  • Open, host, and close virtual training  
  • Support facilitators by monitoring the chat, managing breakout rooms, uploading documents or links in the chat, and presenting slideshows as needed 
  • Support participants with any technical difficulties, such as locating Zoom features, renaming, utilizing cameras and microphones, etc. 
  • Answering questions related to the National Recovery Institute and their services 
  • Troubleshoot any technical issues on Zoom for participants and facilitators  
  • Provide excellent customer service via email, phone, Slack, and Zoom 


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


  • Excellent computer skills: proficient in Zoom, Microsoft PowerPoint, Word, and Outlook 
  • Excellent attention to detail 
  • Excellent written and oral communication skills 
  • Ability to show creative and flexible thinking 
  • Strong time management skills 
  • Strong ability to follow procedures 


  • Minimum of 6 months hosting Zoom meetings and/or virtual conferences 
  • Remote work as a student, volunteer, contractor, or employee for at least 1 year 
  • Introductory or higher understanding of adult learning 
  • People with lived experience who have been involved with grassroots campaigns in behavioral health, harm reduction, justice reform, multi-pathways of recovery, or LGBTQIA+ communities, are encouraged to apply 

 To Apply 

To apply, send a letter of interest and current resume/CV to 


Equal Opportunity Employer 

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

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

March 22, 2022

March 22, 2022


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. 


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  


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

NRI Newsletter – October 2021

October 28, 2021

October 2021
Digital Newsletter

National Recovery Institute

The National Recovery Institute is a peer-run training and technical assistance center. Our mission is to increase the knowledge, capacity, and accountability of recovery support providers throughout the United States and territories.

The National Recovery Institute offers competency and strength-based professional development and leadership training specific to our field.  Our experienced trainers offer training accessible to all learning styles through a combination of information sharing, dialogue, and experiential activities. Through a consultative process, we will build an onsite or online training program specific to your needs.

Please check out our website for more information! We are excited to get your next training scheduled today!

More Info Here!

Mark your Calendars!

Please join us for these FREE upcoming trainings sponsored by the Opioid Response Network

RCO Bootcamp
December 7-9, 2021
10 am – 4pm EST

The RCO Bootcamp is a leadership development program for new and emerging Recovery Community Organization (RCO) directors, program managers, and board members. The Boot Camp covers all the basics to help establish policies and procedures to build the capacity of small non-profit organizations.

CEUs available

Register here!

Recovery Ambassador Training
December 14-16, 2021
10am – 4pm EST

Recovery Ambassador 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.

CEUs available

Register here!
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!

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.