Recovery Community Centers Are Needed for Long-Term Recovery


By Bridget Bauer


Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has. – Margaret Mead, American Cultural Anthropologist


Trying to stay sober is not easy after an addict leaves treatment. Those who work in the world of addiction recovery are starting to realize it takes community support to maintain long-term recovery. Thus, recovery community centers (RCC) are starting to pop up. Even the Missouri Department of Mental Health understands the importance of RCCs. Through the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration Opioid-State Targeted Response grant, it has funded four RCCs. Two are in St. Louis, one in Kansas City and the other in Springfield.

“There is a real push for recovery support in the community,” Teddy Steen, executive director of ASCENT Recovery Residences, said. “People are starting to understand how important community support is in long-term recovery.”

The struggle for addicts is when they leave treatment centers, appointments with therapists and/or parole/probation officers and 12-step meetings, what to do with the rest of their days. Below is the definition of recovery community centers from

“Recovery Community Centers are peer-operated centers that serve as locatable resources of community-based recovery support. People do not live at these centers, but rather these resources can help individuals build recovery capital at the community level by providing advocacy training, recovery information and resource mobilization, mutual-help or peer-support organization meetings (e.g., Alcoholics Anonymous, SMART Recovery, LifeRing), social activities, and other community-based services. They may also help facilitate supportive relationships among individuals in recovery, as well as community and family members. In turn, this increased recovery capital helps individuals initiate and sustain recovery over time. Recovery Community Centers may also play a unique role that builds on professional services and mutual-help organizations, by connecting recovering individuals to social services, employment and skills training, and educational agencies.


“The biggest point is we are finding out the importance of this continuum of care,” Steen said. “You can’t expect recovery addicts to go back into the same environment they came out of.”


The Recover Project of the Western Mass Training Consortium developed a manual of how to start from the ground up a Recovery Community Center. In 2006, they asked those at a project community meeting: Why do communities need peer-to-peer model recovery projects? Below are the answers, which shed light on the importance of community support in long-term recovery.


  • “Because one day at the lobby of the hospital, treatment center, halfway house or jail, they open the door and let you out.”
  • “Because only someone who has been where I was can really understand what I am going through.”
  • “Communities need peer-to-peer recovery centers to build a sense of community and provide supports within the recovery community.”
  • “It is free, cost effective and anyone can go there.”
  • “It is a place where recovering addicts and alcoholics can go and feel at home.”
  • “We are the last house on the street for many people.”
  • “It is a place where we can re-engage and get involved with our community and help the next alcoholic or addict get recovery.”
  • “It gave me a place to go and something to do when I had nothing, really it gave me a reason to get up in the morning.”
  • “It was where I built a new network of friends, who were safer and healthier than the ones I left behind.”
  • “I learned there that there was life after alcohol–sober dances and other activities helped me to see that life could still be fun.”
  • “The volunteer position I took helped me to keep on track when the rest of my life was falling apart.”
  • “We can feel safe there.”
  • “I was valued and trusted, maybe for the first time, and I was able to help create something larger than myself.”