Recovery community centers (RCCs) are the "new kid on the block" in providing addiction recovery services, adding a third tier to the 2 existing tiers of formal treatment and mutual-help organizations (MHOs). RCCs are intended to be recovery hubs facilitating "one-stop shopping" in the accrual of recovery capital (e.g., recovery coaching; employment/educational linkages). Despite their growth, little is known about who uses RCCs, what they use, and how use relates to improvements in functioning and quality of life. Greater knowledge would inform the field about RCC's potential clinical and public health utility.
Online survey conducted with participants (N = 336) attending RCCs (k = 31) in the northeastern United States. Substance use history, services used, and derived benefits (e.g., quality of life) were assessed. Systematic regression modeling tested a priori theorized relationships among variables.
RCC members (n = 336) were on average 41.1 ± 12.4 years of age, 50% female, predominantly White (78.6%), with high school or lower education (48.8%), and limited income (45.2% <$10,000 past-year household income). Most had either a primary opioid (32.7%) or alcohol (26.8%) problem. Just under half (48.5%) reported a lifetime psychiatric diagnosis. Participants had been attending RCCs for 2.6 ± 3.4 years, with many attending <1 year (35.4%). Most commonly used aspects were the socially oriented mutual-help/peer groups and volunteering, but technological assistance and employment assistance were also common. Conceptual model testing found RCCs associated with increased recovery capital, but not social support; both of these theorized proximal outcomes, however, were related to improvements in psychological distress, self-esteem, and quality of life.
RCCs are utilized by an array of individuals with few resources and primary opioid or alcohol histories. Whereas strong social supportive elements were common and highly rated, RCCs appear to play a more unique role not provided either by formal treatment or by MHOs in facilitating the acquisition of recovery capital and thereby enhancing functioning and quality of life.