FOR-NY is committed to identifying the strengths and needs of the Recovery community throughout New York State. One of the ways we accomplish that is through research surveys; the results of which can help us to identify current needs, strengths and gaps in addiction recovery support services in communities throughout the state and shape our policy efforts.

2017 Life in Recovery Survey and the 2016 Recovery Needs Survey

The 2017 FOR-NY Life in Recovery Survey was completed between September and November 2017. The 2017 Survey builds on the findings of the 2016 FOR-NY Recovery Needs Survey. The 2016 Recovery Needs Survey focused on two main objectives: (1) to identify the current strengths and priority needs to be addressed throughout the state related to addiction and recovery services and (2) to determine how well these priority needs are being met by organizations in order to identify the extent of gaps in treatment and recovery services. NYS invested $42 million in the 2017 budget for recovery services after the 2016 Recovery Needs survey was established.

The 2017 FOR-NY Life in Recovery Survey was conducted to explore the success of those recovery support services, and to provide initial data necessary for the government and local communities to make informed decisions about where and how investments in these services should expand. To read the full 2017 Life in Recovery Survey Report, click here.

2017 Life in Recovery Survey Overview

Of the 794 people who completed the survey, 54% of respondents identify as being in recovery, 46% of respondents report being a family member or friend of someone in recovery or someone with an addiction and 27% report being a family member or friend who has lost someone to an addiction. Fifty percent of respondents report working in the addiction/recovery field. The 27% of people who have lost someone to an addiction is a percentage that should resonate with readers. NYS is in the midst of what may be the most significant pandemic in modern history, and understanding what resources are needed to help people access recovery is not just timely, but of critical importance.

Important findings

Over 80% of respondents who identify as being in recovery from addiction believe their community needs more of the following resources:

Substance Free Recreational Activities (90.93%)
Timely Access to Addiction Treatment (89.77%)
Fitness Focused Recovery Activities (88.84%)
Safe Addiction Withdrawal Management/Monitoring (88.6%)
Recovery Community Outreach Centers (88.14%)
Access to Mental Health Services (84.42%)
Employment Based Recovery Services (82.79%)
Grassroots Advocacy for People in Recovery (82.33%)
Recovery Community Organizations (81.65%)
Education Based Recovery Services (86.98%)
Peer Advocates (86.98%)
Recovery Residences (85.51%)
Resources for Family and Friends (84.65%)

Over 50% of respondents who identify as being in recovery in addiction indicate a need for more of the following resources:

• Secular Mutual Support Organizations (70.23%)
• Medication Assisted Recovery Services (68.84%)
• Faith Based Mutual Support Organizations (59.3%)
• 12-step Mutual Support Organization (52.56%)


The survey findings show improvements in awareness of services available to help people who struggle with addiction. The survey demonstrates that strides are being made in New York State from efforts of the Governor, to the NYS legislature, to the Office of Alcohol and Substance Abuse Services (OASAS), to treatment providers, to prevention efforts, to peer professionals and family support navigators. Some improvements in outcomes between our 2016 and 2017 surveys are highly noticeable. One particular improvement between the 2016 and 2017 surveys is the awareness among survey participants of recovery support services. In the 2016 survey, it was clear there was a lack of awareness and understanding of recovery support services. The 2017 survey highlights that awareness appears to be increasing in the following ways:

Recovery Resources 2016 Survey 2017 Survey
Peer Advocates 45% (Respondents indicate an understanding of this resource) 87% (Respondents indicate an understanding of this resource)
Recovery Community Outreach Centers (RCOCs) 31% (“I do not know about this resource”) 7% (“I don’t know enough about this resource to comment”)
Recovery Community Organizations (RCOs) 33% (“I do not know about this resource”) 10% (“I don’t know enough about this resource to comment”)

Need for more recovery support services

Although we aimed to survey a geographically representative population, 15 counties have no representation in the results of this survey. Each of these counties has one or zero formal Recovery Support Services in the county (including RCO, RCOC, Youth Clubhouse, Peer Specialists, Family Navigators). This survey result shows a need to implement recovery support services in those counties in order to engage those populations.

Strength in Recovery

One finding that continues to be a strong sign of hope and strength in the recovery movement is the overwhelming showing of success and positivity from people in recovery. Since finding recovery, survey respondents indicate that they:

Love their life (78%)
Are highly educated (79%)
Work and pay taxes (66%)
Are community oriented (72%)
Take care of their health: (72%)
Are family-oriented: (74%)

This survey supports our experience at FOR-NY and is backed up by the findings of the Surgeon General’s 2016 report which states that for people in recovery, fulfilling important roles and being civically engaged, such as paying taxes, holding a job, and being a responsible parent and neighbor, became much more common after their substance use ended. The chronic disease of addiction is deadly and recovery is the remedy. An investment in recovery will be paid back ten-fold to the community and is an extremely cost-efficient investment.

“Recovery from addiction to alcohol and other drugs is real. It’s achievable, sustainable and beautiful.”

“Recovery from addiction to alcohol and other drugs is real. It’s achievable, sustainable and beautiful.”