Create Recovery-Ready Communities

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Introductory Paragraph

Substance use disorders (SUDs) continue to be a leading cause of death, a leading correlate in violent crime, and a leading cause of lost productivity in the workplace. SUD recovery happens in communities, and community-based resources have been shown to positively affect SUD impact. By educating communities and creating continuity among support services, community-based services, and new innovations, such as recovery community organizations and other recovery support services, recovery efforts have improved for individuals that live within the community. [1] Recovery is not just a matter of individual treatment or individual approaches combined with peer group support. The whole community plays a role in supporting successful recovery. A community response to SUDs can provide social and economic support and have a health impact at a community level. Recovery-Oriented Systems of Care (ROSC) provide coordinated community-based services that are person-centered and build strength and resilience of individuals, families, and communities. Community recovery is a voluntary process through which a community uses the assertive resolution of alcohol and other drug-related problems as a vehicle for collective healing, community renewal, and enhanced intergenerational resilience. [2]

Key Information

Recovery-ready communities include internal and external resources that support and sustain recovery from SUD. Recovery capital is a term identified and linked to recovery-ready communities. Faces & Voices of Recovery provides a breakdown of recovery capital and its role in sustaining recovery: [3]

  • Personal recovery capital. This includes an individual’s physical and human capital. Physical capital is the available resources to fulfill a person’s basic needs, like their health, healthcare, financial resources, clothing, food, safe and habitable shelter, and transportation. Human capital relates to a person’s abilities, skills, and knowledge, like problem-solving, education and credentials, self-esteem, the ability to navigate challenging situations and achieve goals, interpersonal skills, and a sense of meaning and purpose in life.
  • Family/social recovery capital. These resources relate to intimate relationships with friends and family, relationships with people in recovery, and supportive partners. It also includes the availability of recovery-related social events
  • Community recovery capital.This includes attitudes, policies, and resources specifically related to helping individuals resolve substance use disorders. Community resources are vast and can include:
    • Recovery activism and advocacy aimed at reducing stigma
    • A full range of addiction treatment resources
    • Peer-led support, such as mutual-aid meetings, which seek to meet the diverse needs of the community
    • Recovery Community Organizations
    • Recovery support institutions, educational-based recovery support such as recovery high schools, colleges, recovery housing, and recovery ministries and churches
    • Visible and diverse local recovery role models
    • Resources to sustain recovery and early intervention programs, like employee assistance programs, and drug courts
    • Cultural capital. These resources resonate with individuals cultural and faith-based beliefs

Recovery-ready communities also encompass individual, community, institutional and policy level Involvement and collaboration. A community that is recovery ready provides a continuum of care and support to those in recovery or seeking recovery support. Key components of a recovery-ready community are adequate detox and treatment facilities, the ability to address all pathways to recovery, harm reduction, youth recovery, recovery housing, prevention, recovery community organizations, family support, criminal justice involvement (police, court systems), and inclusion of special interest populations (faith-based, LGBTQ).

Examples of Recovery Support Services:

  • Alternative Peer Groups: A comprehensive adolescent recovery support model that integrates recovering peers and prosocial activities into evidence-based clinical practice. These are community-based peer support programs that act as a liaison between residential treatment programs and mental health professionals. The purpose is positive peer support to maintain sobriety. [4]
  • Collegiate Recovery Support provides a supportive environment on campus to reduce the addiction cycle. Includes educational resources and recovery support. [5]
  • Jail & Prison-based Recovery Support programs and resources assist incarcerated individuals or those involved in the criminal justice system.
  • Peer Recovery Coaching: Non-clinical peer recovery coaches who appropriately bring their own experience to the table while helping others on their recovery journey.
  • Medication-Assisted Recovery: Recovery support programs that include medication-assisted treatment (MAT).
  • Recovery Community Centers: A recovery-oriented hub in the community that offers recovery and family support services. It is peer-operated and may include coaching, education, peer-support, medication-assisted treatment, and employment resources.
  • Recovery High Schools focus on academics and recovery and positive peer pressure. [6]
  • Recovery Housing: Substance-free living environments that support individuals in recovery from addiction.
  • Community Task Force: SAMHSA provides 10 concrete steps that leaders can take for recovery-ready communities. [7]
    • Bring people in recovery to the table early and often to create a shared vision of recovery.
    • Identify leaders in the recovery community
    • Identify recovery champions to support the effort and to be ambassadors for the cause.
    • Launch community visioning.
    • Assess community strengths. Where is recovery thriving?
    • Conduct a community recovery capital assessment to identify areas where recovery support and recovery-friendly policies are most prevalent.
    • Get creative and innovative.
    • Encourage friends, family, and colleagues to share their personal stories.
    • Create recovery community centers that make recovery visible on Main Street.
    • Celebrate recovery from addiction!

Relevant Research

SAFE Solutions is an ever-growing platform. Currently no information is readily available for this section. SAFE Project is dedicated to providing communities with the most relevant and innovative materials. We will continue to regularly monitor and make updates accordingly with community input and subject matter expert collaboration. Please check back soon.

Impactful Federal, State, and Local Policies

Partners for Recovery published a report that provides information regarding the funding sources that support recovery support services throughout the continuum of care. The report includes an overview of federal, state, and private funding and highlights practices for obtaining funding. [8]

Available Tools and Resources

Community Listening Forum Toolkit. Provides guidance to taking action with building a recovery-ready community. [9]

The Recovery Café Model allows those in recovery to have a safe place that "meets people where they are on the recovery continuum, engages them for a lifetime of managing their disease, focuses holistically on a person’s needs, and empowers them to build a life that realizes their full potential." [10] The organization supports successfully replicating the model in additional communities.

Recovery-Ready Communities is a guide to recovery support services. [11]

The SAFE Project Community Playbook serves as a blueprint and framework for rural, suburban, and urban communities to navigate an effective, collaborative response using a six-step approach. [12]

Recovery Oriented Systems of Care (ROSC) is a coordinated network of community-based services and supports that is person-centered and builds on the strengths and resiliencies of individuals, families, and communities to achieve abstinence and improved health, wellness, and quality of life for those with or at risk of alcohol and drug problems. It is an approach advocated by SAMHSA, which has published a guidebook on ROSC. [13] According to Ijeoma Achara, CEO of Achara Consulting, a ROSC is NOT:

  • A Model
  • Primarily focused on the integration of recovery support services
  • Dependent on new dollars for development
  • A new initiative
  • A group of providers that increase their collaboration to improve coordination
  • An infusion of evidence-based practices
  • An organizational entity, group of people, or committee
  • A closed network of services and supports

Dr. Achara continues to explain that a ROSC is:

  • Value-driven APPROACH to structuring behavioral health systems and a network of clinical and non-clinical services and supports
  • Framework to guide systems transformation

Promising Practices

No single program or innovation makes a community the ideal place to support recovery, but communities can add things and then integrate them with treatment and recovery services to create a community that provides more support and better options for people in recovery. Some examples follow:

  • Community Gardening. Participation with a community gardening program can bring many benefits to people in recovery. It provides positive social interaction, skill building, improved access to healthy foods, and more. Ideally, involvement with community gardening could be integrated with peer-to-peer recovery groups, recovery coaches, tools like rTribe or Triggr, or a comprehensive success plan managed in a community care coordination platform like XCare Community.
  • Eugene Oregon This case study highlights recovery-ready ecosystems. [14]
  • Fitness & Recreation-based Recovery. Programs like Phoenix Multisport in Colorado have demonstrated the power of having a recovery community that emphasizes active living and recreation.
  • Men's Sheds. This concept originated in Australia in the late 1990s, and there are now more than 1,000 Men's Sheds in Australia with thriving movements in a growing number of other countries. Available buildings (such as vacant warehouses, foreclosed houses that have been possessed by the city or county, or vacant space in a retail center) can be donated, rented, or purchased to create a space for men to gather (it would not need to be limited to men, but that has been the roots). The space is then filled with tools, workbenches, and materials that can be used for the men to tinker, build, fix, and putter--all while building new social relationships.
  • Operation New Hope is a model program that provides support and life-skills and job-skills training for citizens returning to the community after incarceration in the state of Florida. [15]