What can you do?
“What can I do to help?” It’s a question that friends, families, neighbors, and community members often ask when they want to support people in recovery. Sometimes they ask how to support a specific individual they know and love. Sometimes they want to know the best way to show up for the recovery community. Sometimes they just want to do the right thing by building healthy communities that include people in recovery.
Recovery Allies: How to Support Addiction Recovery and Build Recovery-Friendly Communities by Alison Jones Webb (North Atlantic Books, Sept. 6, 2022) provides concrete actions, based on suggestions from people in recovery and the new science of addiction recovery, which allies can take to build and expand recovery capital for everyone in recovery.
The action steps below are from Webb’s discussion about the importance of safe housing for people in recovery. “Safe housing is the foundation for healthy relationships and healthy living in recovery,” she writes. “It’s a secure place for self-exploration, a place to learn new behaviors and attitudes, experiment with new ways of living, and build recovery capital. In other words, safe housing is a home.”
WHAT CAN ALLIES DO?
For family members and friends
• If your loved one is in early recovery and looking for housing, ask about their housing needs and if they want you to help them find a safe living option. People with a history of relapse, overdose, mental health issues, or trauma in their lives will likely need a more structured and supportive environment. Do your homework to find NARR-certified (National Alliance of Recovery Residences) houses, even if they’re not as close to home as you’d like.
• Finding housing isn’t the same as finding a home. You can help by understanding what “home” means to your loved one; and if they want some help to create that wherever they are living by assisting with clothing, bedding, groceries or books.
• Abide by the rules of recovery residences to support new structure and accountability in their lives, such as “no cell phones” and “no boyfriends.” You can model your new relationship with your loved one in recovery by setting boundaries consistent with the residence’s requirements.
• Learn why recovery housing is essential and find out what’s available in your town, city, and state regarding access to safe housing.
• If recovery housing exists in your town, help combat the stigma by promoting the positive effects of having a recovery house in the neighborhood.
• Join local housing coalitions that address homelessness and affordable housing coalitions and groups that focus on creating resources for people released from jail or prison, and advocate for recovery housing.
For community organizations
• If you want to start a recovery residence in your community, don’t assume you know how to do it. Consult with people who have experience such as house operators and managers to create the right mix of structure, accountability, volunteer opportunities, and other vital aspects of the social model of recovery.
• Be sure to include conversations about the need for recovery residences in existing coalitions that address homelessness, affordable housing, and re-entry resources for people released from jail or prison. Invite people in recovery on these coalitions.
• Reach out and create partnerships with recovery houses to link residents with legal aid, credit, and financial management services. Banks may be interested in this activity because many people in recovery houses have debt that banks and credit unions can help restructure.
• Offer volunteer opportunities to people living in recovery houses as a way for them to give back, integrate into the community, and develop new and healthy interests and relationships.
• Create scholarships that benefit people living in recovery residences.
• Reach out to recovery residences with employment and job training opportunities.
• Host a recovery jobs fair and invite everyone living in recovery residences.
For municipal leaders
• Understand state and federal laws for recovery residences so you can explain to people the rights of recovery residents and restrictions on recovery housing. Understand the interplay of local ordinances and state and federal laws to avoid violating the Fair Housing Act or the Americans with Disabilities Act.
• Be part of the national conversation on policies that support safe recovery housing.
For landlords and property management companies
• If you’re interested in launching a recovery house, don’t assume that it’s like any other housing project. Start by contacting NARR or your state’s affiliate for helpful information. Consult people with experience as house operators and managers to create the right mix of structure, accountability, volunteer opportunities, and other vital aspects of the social model of recovery.
• If you rent to a recovery residence, help reduce the stigma by sharing your experiences and becoming a spokesperson for people in recovery, including at local landlord associations on recovery.”
Recovery Allies is available for preorder at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Target, and North Atlantic Books.
For more information, contact Alison Webb at [email protected]