Friends of Recovery – New York was founded in 2008 when Recovery advocates from different corners of the state met to discuss the need for an organization that would advocate for the Recovery Community throughout New York.

Throughout history, Recovery from addiction had been considered nothing more than continued abstinence from alcohol and/or other drugs. With the growing understanding and acceptance of addiction as a chronic disease, efforts to support recovery for individuals and families in communities throughout the state required a major shift in thinking about how to best promote and support long-term recovery.

The New York State Office of Addiction Services and Supports (OASAS) responded in May 2007, with the creation of its Bureau of Recovery Services. One of the Bureau’s first initiatives was to assemble a Recovery Implementation Team (RIT) comprised of individuals in Recovery, family members, county representatives, prevention and treatment providers, OASAS staff, and representatives of the criminal justice, child welfare and mental health systems. The team, which included future FOR-NY Board members Bill Bowman, Richard Buckman, Betty Currier, Charles Devlin, and Chacku Mathai was charged with leading various initiatives that would help to identify the types of recovery services and supports needed. The RIT focused on four key areas: Focus Groups, Recovery Centers, Integrating Prevention and Recovery, and a statewide Recovery conference.

Before long, several members of the team identified the need for a statewide Recovery organization that would connect the local recovery groups and establish a unified voice to advocate for the Recovery Community. A steering committee was soon formed and specific guiding principles were established:

  • A statewide RCO must be a key participating partner

  • A statewide RCO must be a separate, but equal entity that can represent the views of the recovery community in planning and implementation

  • Our voice is a critical component in all discussions

  • All pathways of recovery must be embraced and included

  • Issues of stigma and discrimination related to specific recovery issues must be addressed

On Saturday morning, April 4, 2008 approximately 50 recovery community leaders from throughout the state gathered at the William K. Sanford Library in Colonie, New York to discuss the formation of Friends of Recovery – New York. The enthusiastic, dedicated and diverse group of men and women represented many pathways of recovery, as well as a variety of ethnicities, ages, and regions of the state.

With steadfast commitment and a pocketful of passion, Friends of Recovery – New York was born. The Long Island Recovery Association donated $1,000 to cover incorporation fees and wrote and submitted the necessary IRS applications. Several dozen of the original attendees reconvened for a second meeting in June. (This time at NYAPRS headquarters in Albany.) It was at that meeting that FOR-NY’s founding Board of Directors was created.

With the encouragement of OASAS Commissioner, Karen Carpenter-Palumbo, Friends of Recovery – New York was formally announced during a “Meet & Greet” reception at the first statewide Recovery conference held on September 14-15, 2009. Almost immediately thereafter, the group began meeting with lawmakers, policy makers, and various government representatives (including OASAS) to raise awareness, inspire action, and effect positive change for the Recovery community.


Bill Bowman,
Richard Buckman
Dix Hills
Matt Canuteson
Betty Currier
Paul A. Dunn
Deirdre Drohan-Forbes
Laura Elliott-Engel
Chacku Mathai
David Ramsey
Ronnie Uss
Livingston Manor