A September 2005 Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), Center for Substance Abuse Treatment (CSAT) “National Summit on Recovery,” held in Washington DC, focused on accomplishing three specific goals:
• Developing new ideas to transform policy, services and systems toward a recovery-oriented paradigm.
• Articulating guiding principles and measures of recovery that can be used across programs and services to promote and capture improvements in systems of care, facilitate data sharing and enhance program coordination, and
• Generating ideas for advancing recovery-oriented systems of care in various settings and systems, and among specific populations.
By the end of the two-day summit*, participants had:
–Reached consensus on a working definition of recovery: “Recovery from alcohol and drug problems is a process of change through which an individual achieves abstinence and improved health, wellness and quality of life.”
–Developed 12 Guiding Principles of Recovery including – acknowledging there are many pathways to recovery; recovery is self-directed and empowering; recovery is holistic; recovery exists on a continuum of improved health and wellness; recovery is supported by peers and allies.
–Identified 17 Core Elements of a “Recovery-oriented Systems of Care (ROSC) approach such as – system should be “person-centered”; inclusive of family and other ally involvement; individualized and comprehensive services across the lifespan; strength-based, culturally sensitive, committed to peer recovery support services,
–and most importantly the model and approach should be: outcomes driven and research-based in nature.
Recently I traveled to Rhode Island, as part of a four-person team representing our state, to attend a SAMHSA/Partners for Recovery (PFR) regional conference that highlighted “best practices” and discussed challenges encountered in states that have implemented the ROSC model. Once the series of regional forums are completed early next year, SAMHSA plans to publish a series of “white papers” on the topic of recovery support systems, and services. In addition to highlighting work done in Baltimore City, on the supportive housing issue, SAMHSA will also publish a paper on the “research” supporting the ROSC model.
On the plane ride home, energized by the fact that several states had worked through their particular myriad of challenges in implementing the model, I allowed myself to begin to seriously consider the big…“what if?”
What if we, as a state and a treatment system, were willing to make the commitment of resources (financial and otherwise) to see the model implemented here? What if the medical (clinically-based) and enlightenment (12-Step-based) communities adopted a “common ground” collaborative approach that was respectful of each others traditions and norms? What if recovering persons were invited to the table as true partners from day one, and their input and feedback valued as such? What if community leaders were willing to embrace, and fully support, such an approach? What if we were willing to leave our jurisdictional, clinical discipline and inter-departmental saber rattling at the door, and come to the table with a singleness of purpose: to make the system better and more responsive to ALL the needs clients present with today? What if… (you fill in the blank) ?
As part of a conference workgroup assignment, each state contingent was asked to identify key components deemed critical in advocating for adoption of the ROSC model in our individual states. The Maryland group identified “leadership” and “initiating the dialogue” as two key components. What better way to accomplish the latter, then through a blog.
A good friend of mine in the field suggests Maryland’s treatment system is ready and able to integrate the type of transformational change the ROSC model promotes. As a person in long term recovery I would like to believe that Maryland’s recovering community is just as ready and able to do its part. So the only questions left to answer are, are we as a State “willing” to step outside our comfort zone in following other states that have successfully integrated such a progressive system of care model? And if the answer is yes, who will the leaders be in making such a change a reality?
*The summary of the National Summit of Recovery Conference Report can be read here: http://partnersforrecovery.samhsa.gov/docs/Summit-Report.pdf References for this blog posting are noted on page 4 of the report.