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NC Department of Health and Human Services Division of Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities, and Substance Abuse Services

Recovery Supports in North Carolina

What is Recovery?

The Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) recognizes the importance of an individual’s personal recovery journey and understands that the path is different for everyone. This includes emphasizing recovery principles that integrate mental health, substance abuse, and co-occurring disorders.

A system that focuses on recovery promotes services that are person-centered, evidenced-based best practices to enhance recovery by reducing stigma and barriers to services.

DHHS aims to ensure that North Carolinians in recovery can contribute to their own health care needs and maintain purpose and hope.

The concept of “Recovery” originally began in the addictions field, referring to a person recovering from a substance use disorder. The term has more recently been adopted in the mental health field as research shows that recovery from a mental illness is similar to recovery from an addiction. Both mental health and substance abuse recovery are chronic conditions and an acute response alone is not adequate to maintain wellness. Similar to other chronic conditions, such as diabetes, individuals in recovery must be connected with both treatment as well as other supports, such as peers with similar histories, to increase the rates of success. People can and do recover. 

The federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration's (SAMHSA) working definition of recovery includes the following statement:

“Recovery from Mental Disorders and/or Substance Use Disorders:  A process of change through which individuals improve their health and wellness, live a self-directed life, and strive to reach their full potential.”

Visit SAMHSA to read the full article.

Through the Recovery Support Strategic Initiative, SAMHSA has delineated four major dimensions that support a life in recovery: Health, Home, Purpose, and Community. Additionally, the Guiding Principles of Recovery are as follows: 

  1. Recovery emerges from hope.
  2. Recovery is person-driven.
  3. Recovery occurs via many pathways.
  4. Recovery is holistic.
  5. Recovery is supported by peers and allies.
  6. Recovery is supported through relationships and social networks.
  7. Recovery is culturally-based and influenced.
  8. Recovery is supported by addressing trauma.
  9. Recovery involves individual, family, and community strengths and responsibility.
  10. Recovery is based on respect.

What is the Recovery Model?

“People can and do recover!”

The Recovery Model is a treatment concept in which the individual has primary control over their care and treatment. When individuals have control and choice in the treatment and services they receive, they learn personal responsibility and are empowered to take control of their own lives. The Recovery Model is holistic and focuses on the person, not just the diagnosis or symptoms. This model changes the treatment of mental health and substance use disorders from an acute care model to recovery-focused model. While the acute care model often traps individuals in a cycle of assessment, symptom stabilization, and discharge, the recovery model provides individuals with ongoing, long-term support from peers who are also in recovery.  

The Recovery Movement refers to a grassroots-based initiative occurring nationally and within our state, which has worked during the past few decades to encourage recovery-based practices. In North Carolina, this movement is exemplified in the substance abuse community by the Recovery NC campaign.

A Recovery-Oriented System of Care (ROSC) is a service system that emphasizes recovery principles throughout policy and practice through strategic planning and transformation. It promotes “individual-, program-, and systems-level approaches that foster health and resilience; increase permanent housing, employment, education, and other necessary supports; and reduce discriminatory barriers.” (SAMHSA, 2011). Regarding the effective treatment for substance use disorders, the National Institute on Drug Abuse asserts, “Because addiction can affect so many aspects of a person's life, treatment must address the needs of the whole person to be successful. This is why the best programs incorporate a variety of rehabilitative services into their comprehensive treatment regimens.”

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Recovery Summit

The 2013 Recovery Summit was held March 27, 2013 in Winston-Salem, NC.  The Summit focused on developing recovery principles for use in state policy and services as well as fostering the use of recovery supports including Peer Support. Recovery experts and leaders identified and built consensus around factors that promote Recovery and its components as valuable, evidence-based and cost-effective tools to support individuals in the community. The Summit will develop a report that will be used to guide practice and policy.

The most effective services are those that are recovery-focused per latest research, best practice, and which adhere to the USDOJ Settlement Agreement/Transitions to Community Living Initiative that focuses on ensuring a Recovery-Oriented System of Care:

“Individuals will have access to the array and intensity of services and supports they need to successfully transition to and live in community settings, including supported housing. Such services and supports shall:be evidence-based, recovery-focused and community-based;”

More information from the Summit will be posted here soon. You can also contact Emery Cowan at (919)715-2774 for more information.


Recovery Month

Recovery NC aims to “engage and empower North Carolina residents who are in treatment or recovery from addiction.” This campaign provides an online community for individuals affiliated with the recovery movement to share stories of strength and hope, to advocate for effective health policies, and to reduce the stigma associated with addiction. Recovery NC maintains a list of our local events, to find the nearest one or add one of your own-   

National and state resources on recovery can be found at Faces and Voices of Recovery, visit

National Recovery Month promotes the benefits of prevention, treatment, and recovery for substance use and mental health disorders. The promotion spreads the positive message that behavioral health is essential to overall health, prevention works, treatment is effective, and people can and do recover.

In 2010, North Carolina was first among the states in the number of recovery events held (84), including festivals, walks, runs, open houses and educational programs.  In 2011, NC held 86 recovery events and came in 2nd in the nation behind California. Both mental health and substance abuse advocates and providers were highly involved in last year’s National Recovery Month activities promoted through SAMHSA. The First Annual Capital Area Rally for Recovery was held during National Recovery Month 2012, which brought together recovery providers and advocacy organizations in NC. A total of 782 years of individual recovery was represented at the event.

North Carolina Recovery Resources

The Division sponsors the annual NC “One Community in Recovery” Conference held every fall. The conference is an inspiring, informative event designed to foster the continuing growth of the North Carolina Recovery Movement, to teach participants how to create recovery programming in their own communities, to showcase some of the most progressive recovery practices, and to bring the community of providers and individuals in Recovery together as partners. Learn more about this year’s conference here.

Peer-Run and Partially Peer-Run Organizations: North Carolina recovery supports are provided throughout the system. However, there are some service providers and advocacy groups that are primarily focused on recovery and peer supports. Some of these agencies are partially or entirely “Peer-Run”; others offer trainings, events, information and advocacy. These organizations include the following:

 Recovery and Advocacy Groups

National Recovery Resources Ready NC Connect NC