‘This is What Recovery Looks Like”

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About Open Recovery

Open Recovery is a 501(c) 3 nonprofit organization working to end the stigma of addiction and other mental health disorders so more people can find care, achieve recovery and live productive, happy and healthy lives of meaning and purpose.

We have a long history of supporting the health and wellness of individuals, organizations and communities in the San Francisco Bay Area – having been a direct-service provider and a referral, education and resource hub for schools, professionals and families for over 50 years. Learn more about our history below.

New recovery paradigm

Now in our sixth decade, Open Recovery has become a virtual champion of recovery across the country – convening communities to celebrate what is possible, educating influencers to remove barriers of bias and working within organizations to end stigma and create recovery-conducive environments, cultures and practices that support recovery and greater health and wellness for all.

We do this work today by delivering messages, programs and resources that utilize the change paradigm of Open Recovery – as a proud identity, a shared value, a safe environment, a treatment goal, a call to action and an affront to stigma. Learn more about OpenRecovery @ Work.

Taking our lead from social justice movements and public health campaigns that have fundamentally changed the way sick and stigmatized people are protected and cared for, Open Recovery has utilized social-impact strategies to engage people who had been silenced and invisible – empowering them to become agents of change in their own spheres of influence by adopting the paradigm of “Open Recovery’.

Tackling the opioid epidemic

The drug addiction crisis plaguing our country cannot be resolved through strategies rooted in fear and ignorance.  Incarceration, deportation, and crisis intervention does not lead to healthier individuals, safer communities or a more productive economy.

Voices of change

With 23-million people in this country living in long-term recovery, there is an untapped constituency with the potential to radically alter the course of this public health crisis. Individually and collectively, by being open about life today  in recovery, people can demystify recovery, de-stigmatize addiction, and change the prospects for millions of people struggling with substance use disorders who don’t know recovery is possible.

Successful social justice movements have demonstrated that the very people who had been most marginalized and stigmatized (e.g., women without a vote, LGBTQ without legal protection, HIV and AIDS victims without access to care), could become the most compelling and powerful voices influencing change.

De-stigmatizing addiction

Open Recovery is working to de-stigmatize addiction and strengthen recovery by educating influencers (medical professionals, corporate employers, community leaders), rebranding recovery through bold media campaigns, and by creating opportunities, environments and cultures where recovery can flourish in organizations and in the community at large.

Embracing the paradigm of Open Recovery, we offer people the opportunity to experience and integrate recovery into all aspects of their lives. We empower people to take part in greater investment, advocacy, and action within their spheres of influence to tackle the prevalence and consequences of untreated addiction and unsupported recovery – at home , at work and in the community.


The National Council on Alcoholism

With our roots in recovery advocacy since 1957, Open Recovery’s founding was inspired by the work of pioneering activist Margaret ”Marty” Mann (lesbian, divorcee, and alcoholic in recovery. Marty understood the urgent need to tackle stigma through public education so those afflicted could find help.

In 1935,  Marty began her journey to recovery through the then-unknown group called Alcoholics Anonymous. Her sponsor was AA co-founder, Bill Wilson. After Marty got sober in 1940, she was inspired to encourage others — especially women — to do the same. She saw addiction as a social issue, fed by ignorance, fear, and prejudice. Marty looked beyond her own sobriety and decided that her life’s work would be eliminating the stigma of alcoholism through education and honesty.

Marty founded an organization now called the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD) in 1945. Its purpose was to make recovery not anonymous. Marty went on to publicly educate and advocate for recovery, helping to open many minds about addiction. Thanks in part to her efforts, addiction is understood to be an disease, not a moral failing. The widespread acceptance of addiction treatment, rehabilitation, and other medical support are also part of Marty’s legacy.

Marty made two critical policy decisions. The organization would:

  1. Approach addiction as a medical issue
  2. Change attitudes and create understanding through public education

In 1957, a group of volunteers formed the Bay Area affiliate of NCADD. This became known as The National Council on Alcoholism and Other Drug Addictions – Bay Area (NCA-BA).

The purpose of the nonprofit has always been to respond to the unmet needs in our communities to reduce the prevalence and consequences of alcoholism and drug addiction.

NCA-BA pursued its purpose in San Francisco for nearly six decades through providing direct services. It offered DUI and drug diversion programs for individuals who were mandated to attend class by courts and the California DMV, as well as counseling, prevention, education, and other community outreach efforts.

Over time, other resources for people affected by addiction sprung up in the community. However, the population of people who needed help continued to grow as well. The majority of programs available to help them were short-term and crisis-oriented. Aftercare, support, or harm reduction resources were seriously lacking. The spectrum of recovery, which is broader than active drug use or even early sobriety, was not being served in a way that was inclusive, accessible, and open.

In 2015, NCA-BA’s leadership team decided to reposition the organization to fill the broader needs of the recovery community. The group would become a leading advocate for long-term recovery from addiction. We committed ourselves to take on stigma as a key barrier for those seeking treatment, help, and dignity. To this day, Open Recovery remains committed to the tradition of educating and advocating for recovery by ending stigma. 

Marty Mann lit the spark that would become the Center for Open Recovery. Today, as simply Open Recovery, we continue in the spirit of her vision: “to help individuals, families and entire communities discover a path of recovery.”

That path is Open Recovery and it is open and inclusive of all. Open Recovery is an opportunity for those in recovery to claim our shared belonging and be part of a powerful social justice movement.

Open Recovery is a personal identity, a community value, a call to action, and a treatment goal. It is not influenced by any particular path or modality of care. Open Recovery is an empowering paradigm for people from all backgrounds, lifestyles, modalities, abilities, and pathways in recovery. 

As of July 2017, COR’s operating model shifted to focus on eliminating stigma and championing long-term recovery through advocacy, education, and empowering experiences.

Rather than continuing to offer direct services from a brick-and-mortar location, working in a virtual model COR is able to reach far more people strengthening the recovery movement.

COR’s trailblazing work is funded 100% by the generosity of donors and philanthropic partners, who understand the dire need to disrupt stigma, which is a barrier to addressing the addiction crisis in our country.

Offering pop-up events, lectures, and bold social media campaigns, we deliver an empowering message and introduce the paradigm of Open Recovery.

Digital recovery advocacy, in-person transformative events, and other bold initiatives support people to make change. Rather than focus on short-term crisis intervention, COR evolved its vision, structure, and offering – and our name — to broaden the impact of our work to realize our mission.

Center for Open Recovery is part of a burgeoning social justice movement that is changing the conversation and responses to the public health crisis of our generation. Open Recovery is an affront to the stigma, prejudice, and discrimination preventing care and long-term wellness.

What does recovery look like? It looks like you. Like us. Own It. #BeOpen.