The Faces & Voices of Recovery Campaign Raises Awareness About Recovery from Addiction

Strengthening and sustaining the Faces & Voices of Recovery coalition

Dates of Project: 2001–2012

Field of Work: Improving public understanding of addiction, treatment, and recovery

Problem Synopsis: Decades of research have shown that addiction to alcohol and other drugs is a chronic, relapsing condition, that effective treatments are available, and that people can and do recover. However, public perceptions of addiction as a moral failure, and treatment as costly and ineffective, have curtailed insurance coverage and funding for research, treatment, and recovery support.

Synopsis of the Work: The Alliance Project of the Legal Action Center of New York, a nonprofit law firm, launched a formal coalition of people in recovery from alcohol and drug addiction in 2001. For the next eight years, Faces & Voices of Recovery expanded the capacity of people in recovery to advocate for better understanding of addiction and recovery through a grassroots campaign at local, state, and national levels.

Key Results:

  • Faces & Voices of Recovery fought against stigma and discrimination and advocated for more treatment, research, and opportunities for recovery, and became a hub for such work.
  • The campaign provided tools and training to encourage people in recovery, their families, and allies to participate in community recovery organizations and in the national campaign, and to help them become more effective advocates.

Key Findings: Peter D. Hart Research Associates reported these findings from two surveys (2001 and 2004) and eight focus groups (2005):

  • People in recovery resemble the overall U.S. population in age, race, number of children at home, and prevalence of white- and blue-collar jobs. Men are slightly overrepresented in the recovery population versus the overall U.S. population.
  • Some 63 percent of U.S. adults surveyed said that addiction has had a great deal or some impact on their lives.
  • When someone says he or she is in recovery, most people think that person is still using drugs or alcohol. Thus communications that are understood within the recovery community do not work when talking to the public.

Researchers from Milliman Inc., reported these findings from a 2011 study designed to inform essential services for mental health and substance use disorders under the federal Affordable Care Act:

  • Employer-sponsored health plans typically cover a broad spectrum of services for mental health and substance abuse disorders. Health plans paid an average of $6.50 to $7.90 per member per month to providers for these services.
  • Summary documents often lack clarity in explaining which mental health and substance use services a plan covers or excludes.

The 2010 Accountable Care Act includes coverage for addiction and mental illness “as a result of a lot of advocacy,” said Patricia A. Taylor, executive director of Faces & Voices of Recovery.

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Health plans often lack clarity in explaining which mental health and substance abuse services they cover or exclude.