“A Recovery Community Organization (RCO) is devoted to providing services to and tearing down barriers for those suffering from a substance use disorder. It is a
grassroots community-based organization staffed by people in recovery."
A Recovery Community Organization (RCO) is devoted to providing services to and
tearing down barriers for those suffering from a substance use disorder. It is a
grassroots community-based organization staffed by people in recovery. It provides
services free-of-charge to those seeking recovery and those who are affected by
someone with a substance use disorder.
Why is this important?
In 1958 Bill Wilson, co-founder of the A.A. program wrote the following, “From cradle to
grave, the drunk and the potential alcoholic will have to be completely surrounded by
true and deep understanding and by a continuous barrage of information: the facts
about his illness, its symptoms, its grim seriousness. Why should an alcoholic have to
wait until he is 55 and be horribly mangled to find out that he is a very sick man, when
enough education of the right kind might have convinced him at 30 or 35?”
This was a radical statement back in 1958 and yet sixty years later we are still dealing
with much of the ignorance and lack of awareness that Bill was addressing in the above
quote. The stigma associated with a substance use disorder is still so pervasive that it
prevents and inhibits thousands of people each year from seeking help.
According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), 19.7 million
American adults (aged 12 and older) battled a substance use disorder in 2017. That
same year, 1 out of every 8 adults struggled with both alcohol and drug use disorders
simultaneously. Moreover, in 2017, 8.5 million American adults suffered from both a
mental health disorder and a substance use disorder, also known as co-occurring
The emotional toll on our society cannot be overstated or adequately measured.
However, according to the NSDUH drug abuse and addiction cost American society
more than $740 billion annually in lost workplace productivity, healthcare expenses, and
How can RCOs help?
A Recovery Community Organization raises awareness about recovery from a
substance use disorder and provides assistance to those in recovery and those seeking
recovery services. RCO staff work with mental health providers, faith-based
organizations, treatment providers, recovery-oriented agencies and 12-Step programs
to broaden the safety net of recovery services. According to Robert D. Ashford, a
recovery researcher, an estimated 22 million Americans are currently in recovery from
opioid and other addictions. This is a good news story that is seldom talked about on
the news or social media.
Recently in Central Minnesota a Recovery Community Organization was opened called
the Recovery Community Network (RCN).
The RCN raises awareness about recovery and provides opportunities and resources
for those seeking recovery services. The RCN accomplishes this by bringing friends,
allies and members of the recovery community together to network and share
information with one another on recovery activities in Central MN. The RCN helps
facilitate recovery events, provides education and advocacy for the greater recovery
community, provides peer recovery services and conducts outreach to under-served
populations. The RCN is open to anyone in the recovery community and organizations
that work with people suffering from a substance use disorder. The RCN is open to and
embraces multiple pathways to recovery.
We still have a long way to go in reducing the stigma associated with a substance use
disorder and providing full and timely access to treatment services that are so sorely
needed for our communities. However, with organizations like the RCN, we are making
inroads to what Bill Wilson envisioned over sixty years ago.