Recovery Friendly Care At All System Levels

Substance Use Disorder (SUD) and behavioral health issues continue to be among the most poorly understood and stigmatized conditions today – even after all the work that advocates have put forth over the past few decades. People continue to face discrimination in so many arenas including their homes, places of employment or schooling, and the community at large. As part of the duties of a recovery steward, we are here to #RecoverOutLoud, remove barriers to recovery, and eliminate stigma and discrimination to create a recovery-oriented system of care (ROSC).

What is a ROSC? 

According to SAMHSA, a 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 improved health and quality of life for people affected by SUD. The central focus of a ROSC is to create an infrastructure with the resources to effectively address the full range of substance use issues within communities.

A robust ROSC is beautifully complicated and multifaceted and involves so many factors ranging from family systems, social circles, and culture to policy and legislation, access to peer support services, and availability of multiple pathways of recovery within treatment walls. Each factor plays a unique role in how a person recovers or embraces wellness. For example, the neighborhood and community where a person lives can affect one’s ability to recover from substance use. A system of care that values recovery and wellness would ensure that grassroots Recovery Community Organizations (RCOs) are well-funded and equitable and accessible to all. This is not the case in so many places.

On the macro level, creating a ROSC looks a little different.  National and state policies are enacted to help protect people, and recovery-friendly legislation can look like the legalization of cannabis or other substances, making sure that all people have access to medicines for Opioid Use Disorder (OUD) and Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD), and ensuring that appropriate funding is allocated for service delivery and research. Each person can have a say in manifesting a ROSC by getting involved in their local, state, and national policy-making machine. This can be as simple as attending a local town council meeting and talking with the municipal elected officials to see what they are doing for those in or seeking recovery. We can also show up at every election to #VoteRecovery and support candidates who are recovery-friendly.

Creating a ROSC involves shifting the expectation for a person to make a full recovery from exclusively treatment and clinical settings alone, and focuses that attention on the community, system, and all the internal and external sources of support that help people thrive and live their best lives. A person needs much more following clinical treatment in order to sustain any positive change made.  Does the person have a safe and affordable living arrangement? Do they have equitable access to educational and employment opportunities? Do they have health insurance and can they afford medicines, therapy and fee-based recovery support? Are there services for those who do not speak English? Does this person have a community of like-minded individuals? Are there pro-social activities they can participate in? Are there career and reentry services available to the person? And so many more!

Recently, I asked the amazing #MobilizeRecovery social media community about what they considered to be the perfect ROSC. Here is what you said:

“The perfect ROSC would be just that. Every interaction and system in the community would be geared towards the vision of achieving recovery. Socio-emotional learning in schools. Open and honest conversations.

Whole health wellness. Community support and engagement. Safe housing. family support. Healthy food. Purpose. Giving back to the community that helped you when you are able so the next person can recover,” said Florida Mobilizer Ashley Noel Grimes.

“My goal would be to create a community where all people are seen, heard, and valued. Together we will create an environment conducive to healing. The behaviors would be empathy, compassion, and purpose. Servant leadership. Authenticity. The ability to ask for help when you need it without shame. There is no place for shame if you want recovery – so shame and division can not exist in my dream recovery-ready community.”

Michelle Kavouras is a Mobilizer and Illinois recovery advocate.   “Having child protective services at the table to educate them to create safe spaces for those who they affect! I’ve been pushing every ROSC I attend to bringing them in. We cannot prevent harm if we don’t educate everyone!”

“I am the Community Engagement Chair for our ROSC in Kalamazoo. We are often challenged with getting the word out about the great programs and services we have in our area. There is no budget for marketing communications. The “perfect” ROSC would have money to promote and advertise to the public. Programs get funding. Marketing is often not funded,” said Michigan Advocate Dominick Gladstone.

A ROSC is not just a lofty pipe dream – it is necessary to compassionately and effectively address the public health crisis that is addiction. Every person can help create a robust ROSC by taking intentional and meaningful action. We are all part of the solution!

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