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Substance Use

In the substance use field, individuals and families seeking recovery have had challenges in accessing formal treatment services. The 19th and early 20th century saw the emergence of mutual aid societies. Alcoholics Anonymous, for example, began in 1935.

New grassroots organizations developed in the late 1990s that supported the new recovery advocacy movement. The movement organizes local and national communities to give voice to people in recovery and their family members. In addition, the movement is educating the public, policymakers, and providers about the many pathways to addiction recovery.

The Recovery Community Services Program (RCSP) was funded by SAMHSA窶冱 Center for Substance Abuse Treatment (CSAT) in 1998. The purpose of the program is to help mobilize communities of recovery and foster the development of recovery community organizations. In 2002, the RCSP funded local recovery community organizations to provide peer recovery support services and promote the development of peer leaders.

Peer support in Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous helped keep Charles Thornton away from alcohol, heroin, cocaine, and other drugs. Growing up in Washington, DC, Mr. Thornton started using marijuana, got arrested for possession at age 17, and found himself incarcerated by age 18. At age 29, he received treatment for the first time. A friend in recovery gave him a job and advice as someone who knew what he was going through and for 2 years he lived in a consumer-run, drug-free home. 窶廬n certain areas of the District at that time, drugs were everywhere,窶 he remembered. 窶弋o have a safe place and know that other people in the house were recovering also just led to a lot of support.窶 He also became active in the DC Recovery Community Alliance, recovery clubs, and other groups.

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