Frequently Asked Questions

How many people in the U.S are in recovery?

Over 23 million Americans are in recovery from addiction to alcohol and other drugs according to a nationally representative survey from The New York State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services (OASAS) and The Partnership at conducted among 2,526 adults, ages 18 and older, living in the United States. Opinion Research Corporation (ORC) conducted the survey in 2011, with a sample consisting of 1,272 male and 1,254 female respondents and with a margin of error +/- 2 percentage points.

How can I get in touch with addiction recovery advocates in my community?

The first place to check for a recovery community organization near you is on our website.  You can contact a Faces & Voices regional representative on that same page.

What are Faces & Voices goals?

  • Laws and policies enable recovery, health, wellness and civic engagement for people affected by alcohol and other drugs.
  • Communities are organized and mobilized to address policies, practices and perceptions for people affected by alcohol and other drugs.
  • Individuals, families and communities affected by alcohol and other drugs have universal access to quality, effective care and supports to achieve recovery, health, wellness and civic engagement.

What is Faces & Voices history?

Faces & Voices of Recovery was founded in 2001 at a national summit of 200 recovery advocates. Find out more about our history here. You can also learn more about our history in the exciting documentary The Anonymous People.

Does Faces & Voices support any particular approach or pathway to addiction recovery?

No. Faces & Voices expectation is that people can and do recover and has always worked to include and embrace people with all types of recovery experiences, including that of family members and friends. Faces & Voices founders declared, “We will demonstrate that millions of individuals and families from every walk of life have found recovery from alcohol and other drug addiction. It will show that there are many paths to recovery – self-help, professional treatment, medical interventions – and that all of these paths have proven to work.”

Are most people with alcohol and other drug problems unemployed?

No. The vast majority of people with alcohol and drug problems are employed. In 2007, of the 20.4 million adults classified with substance abuse dependence or abuse, 12.3 million (60.4 percent) were employed full-time.

National Survey on Drug Use and Health

What are the best words to use to describe addiction and recovery?

Recovery advocates believe that times are changing – and the language needs to change, too. Language matters and non-discriminatory language can help society relinquish the stigma and end discrimination facing people with addiction, their families and friends.  Terms such as “substance abuser” suggest that a person is voluntarily misusing a substance within their environment.  In a randomized study of mental health professionals it was found that when a patient was described as a “substance abuser” as opposed to having a “substance use disorder,” clinicians perceived them as being responsible for their condition and were more likely to agree that the patient should be punished for their behaviors relating to substance use, rather than treated (J. F. Kelly & Westerhoff, 2010; Kelly et al., 2010). We urge federal agencies that use the word abuse in their names to change those names, journalists to refer to “people with addictions” and that organizations discuss and reform their own use of language.

Who is the recovery community?

The recovery community is people in or seeking recovery from addiction to alcohol and other drugs, their families, friends and allies.

What is recovery?

There is no single definition of recovery. The table below shows recovery definitions that have been developed recently as the focus has started to shift toward understanding how people get well.  Faces & Voices Life in Recovery survey is another way to describe recovery as it affects many facets of a person’s life over time. There’s more information here.

Definitions of Recovery (Kelly & Hoeppner, 2012)


Where can I go for help?

There are many pathways to recovery. There are a range of effective addiction treatment programs throughout the U.S. and there are several directories that can help point people in need to a nearby program. It is important to find a program that matches your needs and outlook. One place to begin your search is at the federal government’s Center for Substance Abuse Treatment facility locator. You can also check out our Guide to Mutual Aid Resources.

What is the cost benefit for early treatment of alcohol and other drug addiction?

Studies have shown that every dollar invested in treatment and recovery programs yields $2.00 to $10.00 in savings in health costs, criminal and juvenile justice costs, educational costs, and lost productivity.

How many people are incarcerated because of alcohol and drug problems?

More than 7 million adult Americans are in the criminal justice system; 2 million offenders are incarcerated and 5 million are on probation or parole. Fifty percent of these offenders are classified as being dependent on drugs, and nearly a third of State prisoners and a quarter of Federal prisoners committed their crimes under the influence of drugs. The failure to address the addiction of those under criminal justice supervision has severe consequences for society, the offender, and taxpayers.

What does it cost our economy not to get people the help they need to recover?

Spending on addiction and risky substance use consumes 10% of the federal budget and 16% of state budgets. Of this, 96% pays for the consequences of untreated addiction and risky use. Nearly 1/3 of all hospital costs are linked to addiction and substance use.

Source: CASAColumbia at

Do more Americans die from drug overdoses than in car accidents?

Yes. In 2010, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there were 38,329 fatal drug overdoses in the United States, more than 100 deaths each day, double the 16,849 fatal overdoses observed in 1999. Overdosing is now the leading cause of accidental death in the United States, accounting for more deaths than traffic fatalities or gun homicides and suicides. 

What is is a new campaign following up on the release of The Anonymous People documentary film. Faces & Voices of Recovery and our partners are collaborating to engage and mobilize the newly emerging recovery community constituency to transform public attitudes and policies affecting people seeking or in recovery from addiction to alcohol and other drugs. Whether behind the scenes or on the front line, every recovery voice is needed.

How do I find out more about my insurance coverage and the Paul Wellstone and Pete Domenici Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act?

A great place to start is the Parity Implementation Coalition’s web site at  You can also check out SAMHSA’s web site at

Can you help me understand the Alphabet Soup of names of agencies and programs?

Check out our Guide to Acronyms for starters. Let us know if you have updates.