The Recovery Bill of Rights is a statement of the principle that all Americans have a right to recover from addiction to alcohol and other drugs. It was developed and adopted by Faces & Voices of Recovery‘s board of directors and has been endorsed by allied national organizations. We call on all Americans and our elected officials to take action to build communities of recovery that will support the more than 22 million Americans and their families still needing help and to end discrimination facing millions in long-term recovery.
A new life, free from addiction to alcohol and other drugs, is a reality for millions of Americans. Regardless of the path a person takes in seeking recovery, the lives of those around the individual – family members, friends and neighbors – are vastly improved as a result. We know that recovery is an achievable goal for the 21 million Americans who still need help. Breaking the cycle of addiction is critical to a healthy society.
Recovery is a process that requires time, patience and support. It’s time now to implement public and private policies at the local, state and federal levels to help individuals and families get the help they need, including access to effective treatment and to peer and other recovery support services. Policies that discriminate against people in recovery must be reversed. The barriers that discrimination raises against people with addiction must be removed. People with drug convictions face additional obstacles – even after they have completed their sentences – that threaten their chances of ever becoming productive members of society.
Our nation’s response to the crisis of addiction should be based on the engagement and involvement of the recovery community – people in recovery, their families, friends and allies – and on sound public health science. Policies and programs must close the gap between science and policy. By speaking out and putting a human face on recovery, people in or seeking recovery and their families play a critical role in breaking down barriers. These personal “faces and voices of recovery” serve powerfully to educate the public about addiction and recovery and about discrimination against those seeking sustained recovery.
Americans are misspending precious taxpayer dollars because of misguided approaches to addiction. This illness, left untreated, costs Americans more than 100,000 lives and $400 billion each year. Addiction affects one of every four children in our country.
Yet, treating addiction is as successful as treating other chronic illnesses such as diabetes, hypertension and asthma. Recovery benefits individuals and families. It brings relief to communities by improving public health and safety and reducing tax burdens. Every $1 invested in treatment yields a return of up to $7 in reduced drug-related crime and criminal justice costs. When savings related to health care are included, total savings can exceed costs by a ratio of 12 to 1. These benefits could be further enhanced if addiction treatment shifted from its acute care model of brief treatment to a model of sustained recovery support, analogous to the care provided to people recovering from other chronic illnesses.
Public and private investment in recovery expands access to the growing number of recovery pathways. The reward: increased opportunities for individuals to regain their lives and for families and communities to grow stronger. The right to recovery is the right to a new life, free from addiction.
The development of The Recovery Bill of Rights was supported by an unrestricted educational grant from Reckitt Benckiser.