A Recovery Community Advocate is someone who:

  • Represents their views through sharing about their own experience in addiction recovery.
  • Speaks up for people in recovery and their families at local, state, and federal policy levels on issues that affect their lives.
  • Learns about city, county, state and national issues and engages their elected officials about issues that affect people and the needs in their community. (For example: Issues that relate to the adequacy and quality of treatment and recovery support services.)
  • Educates the public, policymakers and service providers about addiction recovery support and the many pathways and styles that help people initiate and maintain long-term recovery.
  • Develops the knowledge of resources and how to access addiction and mental health treatment, recovery support services, health care, housing, etc.
  • Engages as a volunteer within local communities of recovery.
  • Participates in creating recovery community environments and centers that make recovery visible and provides a setting for the delivery of non-clinical, peer-based recovery support services, supports, and activities.
  • Celebrates recovery from addiction through public recovery celebration events (e.g., marches, rallies, festivals, concerts, etc.) that promote living proof of the transformative power of recovery.
  • Supports research that illuminates the pathways, processes, stages, and styles of long-term personal/family recovery.
  • Is respectful of elected officials even when disagreeing on proposed legislation.

The ability to share your recovery story is an important piece of effective long term recovery.  Some of us are much more comfortable speaking with only close friends and family, while others have no issue with sharing to larger audiences. Either is great because whomever you share with will then have a clearer understanding of what recovery is truly about.

When preparing a presentation of your personal story of recovery, there are some specific guidelines you should follow so that your level of comfort and engagement is always consistent.  Here are a few suggestions:

  1. Make an outline
  2. Give some background
  3. Make it audience appropriate
  4. Keep it simple
  5. Avoid over-personalizing
  6. Have a conclusion

We invite you to attend our ongoing trainings on this topic. Each area (1-6) will be discussed at length, and you will have the opportunity to learn different ways of sharing your recovery story in various settings.

Frequently Asked Questions


Where should I speak?

The best place to begin is with one person you know who will be supportive. The person should not be too familiar with your substance use history, so they will be more open-minded and less judgmental. The person can be a neighbor, relative, associate, someone you run into regularly (coffee barista, store clerk, etc.) or anyone else you choose. Remember, when you tell your recovery story to someone, be proud and confident of what you overcame and where you are today. The Power of Recovery is the Power of Compassion!

Other possible beginning venues for story sharing may include 12-step meetings, in-patient or out-patient group therapy, one-on-one sessions with a mental health professional, or a peer support specialist.

NOTE: Do not feel obligated to share your personal story if you are not comfortable or do not feel ready to do so.

I'm uncomfortable speaking about my recovery, what can I do?

Many people do not feel comfortable speaking about themselves to others regardless if it is a small or large group. So, do not feel badly because there are other ways to share your amazing recovery story!  You can write a letter or an Op-Ed piece to your local newspaper, share a story on specific social media sites, write a letter to an elected official you feel might require a better understanding of recovery, or consider attending USARA’s Message Training.

How can I share my recovery story?

USARA encourages people in recovery to share their progress made personally, with friends, and with family. By sharing our stories, we will reduce the stigma and secrecy surrounding people who suffer from addiction and assist them in accessing resources and support on their pathway to recovery. Share your story here.