State of the New Recovery Advocacy Movement: Achievements, Part 3′ by Bill White

Unknown-1I continue Bill White’s list of achievements of the new recovery advocacy movement in the US.

Message Clarity. The data collection and analysis allowed us to formulate a clear set of messages that could be used by RCOs throughout the country and would be disseminated via “message training” that clarified the meaning of recovery and reality of long-term recovery in public communications.

A further critical step in that message clarity was the work of detailing how advocacy could be done in ways that were completely in alignment with the anonymity traditions of 12-Step recovery programs – a position recently reaffirmed via a widely disseminated communication from the General Service Office of Alcoholics Anonymous.

Early Strategic Partnerships. As the movement began to spread, we needed models that could guide how RCOs could relate to and collaborate with a wide spectrum of organizations.

These models emerged from several key partnerships including with the Center for Substance Abuse Treatment at the national level and models of collaboration with state and municipal organizations that were pioneered by the Connecticut Community of Addiction Recovery and the work of PRO-ACT in the City of Philadelphia.

Later, the Association of Persons Affected by Addiction in Dallas collaborated with a major managed behavioral healthcare organization on what has become a model of private reimbursement for peer recovery support services.

Support for Movement Globalization. Another early thing we got right was extending ourselves to support rising recovery advocacy movements in the UK, Asia, Africa, Australia, and Canada.

We did this by accepting invitations to speak in these countries and by hosting innumerable visits from recovery advocates across the globe. The fruits of those efforts are quite remarkable, such as major recovery parades in four Japanese cities in recent months – something that would have been unthinkable during our first visits there in 2007.

The service ethic that inspired the recovery advocacy movement in the U.S. is now reaching around the world.

Early Advocacy and Peer Recovery Support Development Successes. As a result of the above key decisions, we have much to be proud of in 2013. We have witnessed:

  • increased recovery representation at national, state, and local policy levels and key policy successes,
  • the emergence of recovery as an organizing paradigm for addiction policy and service practice,
  • major efforts to reconnect addiction treatment with the larger and more enduring processes of personal/family recovery via models of sustained recovery management and recovery-oriented systems of care,
  • mass mobilization of communities of recovery via highly successful recovery celebration events, e.g., marches, rallies, festivals, and town meetings,
  • the spread of new recovery support institutions—RCOs, recovery community centers, recovery residences / National Association of Recovery Residences, recovery schools / Association of Recovery Schools, recovery industries, recovery ministries,
  • exponential growth of peer recovery support services (PRSS), new peer service roles (e.g., recovery coaches) and PRSS practice standards (Council on Accreditation of Peer Recovery Support Services), and
  • increased interest in recovery within the addictions research community.

Today, the new recovery advocacy movement in America is coming of age.’