Launching Open Recovery
Center for Open Recovery (COR) is a 501(c)3 nonprofit that champions long-term recovery by ending the stigma of addiction. Founded in San Francisco in 1957 as The National Council for Alcoholism and other Drugs – Bay Area, our focus was to advocate locally for alcoholics and those with substance use disorders. Drug addiction is an epidemic in this country and discrimination is a barrier to help, so we boldly changed our strategy from prevention to recovery support so that more people can find and stay in recovery. We introduced 'Open Recovery' as a new paradigm, a proud personal identity, a treatment goal, and a shared community value that is an affront to the stigma of addiction. We launched Open Recovery as a social justice movement, to change society's understanding so that those struggling with addiction and those in recovery can manage their health openly, as we inspire more investment in solutions for long-term care. Our initiatives – advocacy in the workplace, education in the general public, and empowering personal experiences in community – are geared to mobilize this movement so that we, as a society, can tackle this deadly disease and restore the dignity, hope and health we all deserve.
There are many organizations that address addiction in its crisis stage or focus on prevention, but COR is unique in that it advocates for people in long-term recovery. Addiction is a chronic illness that needs long-term care and support, both of which are lacking due to stigma, discrimination, misperceptions and lack of awareness. COR is moving the dial on this by providing opportunities for people to experience Open Recovery within their local communities, through bold media and marketing campaigns to educate the general public, and by advocating for recovery-conducive environments in the workplace through awareness raising workshops for employers and employees. In this effort, COR has sought pro bono services from experts in areas of organizational and operational strategy, and marketing. We also actively collaborate with the University of California San Francisco and local nonprofits in the field of community health to identify how to collaboratively best serve the community.
Open Recovery is movement with clear goals: remove the stigma of addiction and recovery so more people can recognize the positive outcomes possible and make it easier to seek help and identify resources –in the professional, social, or familial realms – that support long-term recovery. COR has designed experiential, media messaging and educational tools that be offered nationwide or replicated easily. As for disseminating information, we received an industry/peer-based award for our innovative work in Northern California; we were featured on the nationally syndicated radio show Inflection Point; We are being written about in local periodicals (Marin Magazine, 100K readers monthly); partnering with national organizations such as Facing Addiction, which featured COR in their documentary “Out of the Shadows”. COR is also an independent affiliate of NCADD (largest volunteer health organization in the US), which has over 80 affiliates nation-wide through which COR can disseminate resource/tools/programs, given proper funding.
Previously when we were focused on prevention programs, NCA was funded primarily by client-pay (60%) and government contracts (40%). Today we have decreased our reliance on contracts (now 20%) through philanthropic support (25%) which allows us to develop innovative recovery-oriented programs. The recovery workshop will be fee-based for employers, generating new/reoccurring source of income. The Road to Recovery community events are self-supporting. Peer fundraising generates unrestricted support. Partner organizations with vested interest include the criminal justice system (jails, courts, police), healthcare (hospitals, emergency services, insurance), treatment providers, schools etc. The cost to society (e.g., lost productivity and un-reimbursable expenses) due to addiction are staggering. Open Recovery is designed much like Act-Up and Silence = Death, which were innovative programs to address the AIDs epidemic: educate, end stigma and fight disease. Today there are more people silently battling addiction (20M+) then there were people cumulatively fighting AIDS.
The beauty of a movement is that no-one owns it and everyone can take part in it. Open Recovery is an attainable vision that can be duplicated, transferred, or adapted by any organization or institution that is committed to treating individuals in recovery from addiction with respect and dignity. COR’s initiatives are designed to set examples, to provide context, to dispel misconceptions and biases, to provide a common language that fosters respectful dialogue, to inspire hope for others who were shamed into silence for so long because of the war on drugs, and to inspire commitment by those with power and resources to support a long-neglected population. Our Road to Recovery event was conceived with national expansion in mind, the recovery workshops for employers can be customized for any organization or institution, and our marketing campaign is designed to resonate with diverse communities.
Open Recovery is designed to challenge the stigma and discrimination associated with addiction, and restore dignity, hope and community for millions who are needlessly suffering. Mobilizing an Open Recovery movement through the three tactics explained above (advocacy, education and empowerment), has the potential to radically change understanding about, identity with, and investment in recovery so more people can get help and we can tackle the inequity to care that is causing an epidemic of preventable deaths by accidental overdose and needless shame, suffering and isolation. Outcomes include 1) people identifying as 'in recovery' 2) organizations/communities offering recovery-supportive policies, systems, and environments, 3) increase in private and public investment in research to prevent, treat, and cure addiction, 4) new programs and insurance coverage that support long-term recovery-oriented treatment/services 5) reduction in criminal penalties, increase in health-care solutions for those with addiction 5) more people in recovery 6) less substance-related deaths.
To learn more, please visit