By Sheilah Powell

People who are exploring their relationship with recovery need a safe place to go that is open to the public and provides supportive services.  All people – in recovery, seeking recovery, or those using drugs – deserve a welcoming place that is different than a house of faith, a clinical setting, or their own (possibly unsafe or activating) living space.  Everyone needs a community to get and stay well.  So, where do people go? That is where a Recovery Community Organization (RCO) comes in.  

An RCO is described as an independent, non-profit organization led and governed by representatives of local communities of recovery that does any or a combination of the following activities – conduct ongoing local recovery support needs assessment surveys or focus groups, organize recovery-focused policy and advocacy activities, increase recovery workforce capacity and expertise through training and education, and more!  These activities are accessible to all members of the community and are open to the public.  

Overall, an RCO is a peer-run organization that serves as a place for community–for individuals exploring a relationship with recovery.  These spaces are not residential and people do not live there, rather these centers provide support, connection, resources, and training so a person could address their Substance Use Disorder (SUD) and recovery in a holistic and non-judgemental way. An RCO can serve as a model where volunteer and paid peers can model healthy behavior, provide the necessary support, and promote recovery. An RCO can play a vital role in a person sustaining their recovery from SUD.  

According to Friends of Recovery – New York (FOR-NY), there is a big difference between achieving recovery and sustaining it. Achieving recovery involves the short-term treatment of SUD, and sustaining recovery is a far more in-depth and lengthy process. It is here in the sustenance and maintenance phase where people begin the process of developing healthy relationships and meaningful lives. 

An RCO can be a haven for those just getting out of treatment, those who did not have access to a treatment program or folks who did not choose the treatment route. A robust RCO can help connect the silos of addiction treatment and recovery support.  Furthermore, an RCO can help to bridge any gaps that exist in an imperfect and constantly changing system of care.  

If you are interested in finding out where your closest RCO is, click here. FAVOR has an interactive map that locates all the organizations that are part of the Association of Recovery Community Organizations (ARCO).  You can also check with your state’s Department of Health and Human Services to see if any RCOs are registered there.  

Click here to download a printer-friendly version of the RCO definitions and best practices.  FAVOR also offers an RCO Toolkit for download.   

Have you heard about Mobilize Recovery?  Each year, hundreds of people in recovery, family members, & recovery allies attend Mobilize Recovery — an annual convening to learn innovative strategies and tactics for grassroots organizing & recovery solutions. Now in its fourth year, Mobilize Recovery 2022 will continue to build upon its impact, success, and reach by hosting this year’s national event as an interactive virtual experience from September 29th to October 1, 2022.  Apply here

Applications close at 5pm EST on Thursday, June 30, 2022. Participants will be notified by Friday, July 8, 2022.  Multiple in-person events will be taking place in cities across the country during the Mobilize Recovery Across America bus tour. For information on the national bus tour dates, cities, events & activations, please visit mobilizerecovery.org. There is no cost or registration fee to attend Mobilize Recovery 2022.