Q:What is the definition of an RCO and what language can we use when promoting or discussing it with other members of the community or press?
A: We can direct you to two resources to answer this question. The first is the William White paper-linked here, and the second is Friends of Recovery-Deleware/Oswego(FOR-DO), an existing RCO in NY which states on its web page that it is “... a non-profit organization dedicated to providing addiction recovery through every available means, including advocacy, education and peer support. RCOs provide education and awareness activities in an effort to reduce stigma and discrimination related to addiction; advocate for legislation and services that support recovery from addiction; and operating recovery community centers(RCCs) for those in recovery from addiction and their families, thereby improving quality of life, reducing the risk of relapse and assisting the development of a sustained recovery through provision of peer based support(P-BRSS), life skills education and other programs, social activities, informational resources and a place for mutual support meetings.”
FOR-DO credits much of its language and definitions to those who came before them and there is a “History” tab on their page that tells their journey from a small group of solution oriented individuals holding regular discussions and organizing recovery promoting activities to operating two RCCs in two NY counties. This same formula is being applied and the process is happening all over the country; now, thanks to Greg Williams, writer/director of “The Anonymous People”, it is happening here, too.
Q:How do we develop the language skills promoted in “The Anonymous People” to help get our message across to those who do not understand the language of recovery and to help reduce the stigma associated with persons in recovery and their families?
A:We have acquired the DVD “Our Stories Have Power” from Faces and Voices. It is an interactive tutorial tool for holding seminars to change our messaging. It includes a power-point presentation and downloadable worksheets needed for the course.
Bob Lindsey, former director of the NCADD, who has attended both of our forums and has provided tremendous direction and insight from his personal involvement with Faces and Voices and “The Anonymous People”, has reached out to our fellow advocates at FOR-DO in hopes of acquiring an experienced messaging coach to host our seminar.
We intend to have some of our own members attend the coach training seminars.
Q:Isn’t changing the language hiding what we are? Shouldn’t we continue to be “brutally honest” about our disease to make an impact and not avoid the fact that we are addicts/alcoholics?
A:Recovery advocacy is about changing the perception of both the nature of the disease and the persons affected by it not by sugar coating rhetoric but by telling a new truth, one not portrayed sufficiently in today’s society due to negative exposure by the press and a long-time misunderstanding of the disease as a moral failing rather than the reality of it being a biological, major health concern.
Our Voice is not so much about what we did as it is about who we are now. It’s about promoting sustained, long-term recovery as a quality of life solution. Although it is vital for those of us who have been through it to remember where we came from, and we can do that through our individual pathways to recovery programs, it is also important that we confront our own shame-based fears with positive, life-affirming self-talk and humility.
Our voices carry a message of hope.
Q: What’s next?
A: Bookmark and keep coming back to our homepage to see the upcoming events and meetings and join us to lend your support, help yourself, and others as we all work to eliminate the stigma of addiction and promote long term recovery.