In a first of its kind study, released just last week, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) examined recovery in our country. Here’s what they found: (1)

According SAMHSA, a system of care, or infrastructure, that is recovery-oriented is “a coordinated network of community-based services and supports that is person-centered and builds on the strengths and resiliencies of individuals, families, and communities to achieve abstinence and improved health, wellness, and quality of life for those with or at risk of alcohol and drug problems.”(2)

Here are some examples of recovery-oriented activities across the continuum of care:

The National Epidemiological Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions found that among individuals with SUD, the lifetime probability of seeking treatment was 90% for drug dependence, 60% for drug abuse, 54% for alcohol dependence, and 16% for alcohol abuse. However, in more than 50% of cases, treatment was sought more than ten years after disorder onset. (3)

The presence of an early substance use disorder that goes untreated often doubles the odds for the subsequent development of chronic and expensive medical illnesses such as hypertension, heart disease, stroke, arthritis, chronic pain, diabetes, and asthma. (4)

When people experience untreated SUD at a population level, it imposes tremendous financial and social costs. Societal costs of tobacco, alcohol, and illicit drug use are nearly 6 percent of the nation’s income – over $532 billion a year. (5)(6)

A recovery-oriented system of care provides a network of services and supports to address the full spectrum of substance use problems, from harmful use to chronic conditions.

When recovery support services are provided across the continuum of care, they support resiliency, open doors to service access and engagement, and support long-term recovery. Person- centered supports bolster successful individual and family outcomes according to SAMHSA’s Office of Recovery. (7)

Recovery support services are essential to removing barriers to recovery and bolstering successful individual and family outcomes. Here are the three things everyone should know about recovery and recovery support services as we conclude Recovery Month:  

Recovery support services incorporate a full range of social, legal, and other services that facilitate recovery, wellness, and linkage to and coordination among service providers, and other supports shown to improve quality of life for people (and their families) in and seeking recovery. 

Some recovery support services, including employment assistance, childcare, care management and housing support, even enhance the engagement of individuals and their families in achieving and sustaining recovery.  

Recovery support services may be provided before, during, or after clinical treatment, or may be provided to individuals who are not in treatment but seek support services. 

According to SAMHSA, creative financing strategies are required because program model dollars are often tied to one-size-fits-all approaches. This approach is inconsistent with offering an array of services tailored to an individual’s needs. This person-centered approach to recovery services is found to produce more successful outcomes. (8)  

RCOs’ are independent, non-profit organizations led and governed by representatives of local communities of recovery. RCOs provide peer-based recovery support services and are integral to building up our certified peer recovery specialist workforce. 

RCOs also carry out recovery-focused community education and outreach programs. RCOs work with law enforcement agencies and emergency departments to support those who have overdosed, as well as with treatment centers and problem-solving courts. RCOs even provide life-saving interventions.  

Well, we absolutely do have RCOs in the Tampa Bay region. They are all new organizations, since Florida did not begin to provide support for recovery support services and integrating certified peer support specialists into the system of care until approximately 5 years ago. Here are the RCOs in our region: 

Hillsborough Recovery Coalition


(1) Office of Recovery, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration: Recovery from Substance Use and Mental Health Problems Among Adults in the United States, 2023.

(2) Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Recovery Oriented System of Care Resource Guide, 2010. 

(3) NIAAA, National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions-III,, last accessed September 25, 2023. 

(4) Scott KM, Lim C, Al-Hamzawi A, Alonso J, et al. Association of mental disorders with subsequent chronic physical conditions: world mental health surveys from 17 countries. JAMA Psychiatr. 2016;73((2)):150–8. 

(5) * Estimates of the economic costs of alcohol abuse, smoking, and drug abuse were $166.5 billion, 138.0 billion, and 109.9 billion, respectively, in 1995. The total, or 414.4 billion was over 6 percent of GDP in 1995. The estimate reported here is based on applying the 6 percent of GDP to the GDP of 2001. 

(6) Schneider Institute for Health Policy, Substance Abuse: The Nation’s Number One Health Problem, Princeton, NJ, February 2001 Update.  

(7) Office of Recovery, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration,, last accessed September 30, 2023. 

(8) Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Recovery Oriented System of Care Resource Guide, 2010. 

(9) Office of Recovery, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration,, last accessed September 30, 2023. 

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