Recovery Treatment System in the State of California

In this section, you will learn about how treatment systems are organized in California. Upon completion, you will be able to

  • Discuss key elements of person-centered recovery planning
  • Describe steps to follow to develop a recovery plan

Treatment Access in California

Treatment is one possible service that some individuals may participate in during recovery. Treatment services differ depending on whether people need help with addictions, mental illness, or both.

Addiction and mental health treatments can differ in intensity and duration, and usually focus on initiating recovery through symptom management and/or achieving abstinence. Recovery supports are broader and help people maintain long-term recovery.

The publicly funded treatment programs in California are organized into mental health treatment delivery and substance use treatment delivery. The following graphics provide a snapshot of each.

Mental Health

In California, publicly funded mental health services might be paid for by Medi-Cal, county mental health plans, or county mental health safety services. The chart details the people served and services provided in each plan.

Substance Use Disorder

Community health and social services may provide both entry points into the SUD Continuum of Care and support recovery maintenance.

The Role of the Peer Recovery Specialist

Peer recovery specialists may provide support at all stages of recovery, including pre-treatment, induction into treatment, maintenance, and post-treatment. Peers may work at treatment providers, community-+based agencies, or peer-led organizations. This graphic identifies several examples of peer support activities that can support an individual’s recovery within treatment services.

Peers in the Field: Philadelphia

Since 2017, Certified Recovery Specialists (CRS) in Philadelphia have worked with patients who present in the emergency department as a survivor of an opioid overdose as part of the R.O.S.E. Warm Handoff Project. The project was developed to help hospital staff provide patients with best practices treatment for opioid use disorder. When a person who has presented in the ED is cleared medically, they are asked if they would like to speak to a CRS. If the person agrees, the CRS meets the individual at their bedside and explores their interest in recovery supports. If interested, they collaborate with the person to determine the best option for them. If the person chooses to obtain further services, the CRS refers them to the appropriate provider and supports their transition. The CRS continues to provide outreach and ongoing recovery support services to the individual even if they are not interested in treatment at that time.

County and Municipal Government Programs and Resources

In addition to the State-funded services, local county and municipal governments also offer safety net services, resource guides, and information about local organizations.

For example, the San Francisco Adult Probation Reentry Division provides comprehensive reentry services for justice-involved adults. They have established recovery pathways for individuals with substance use concerns that links early recovery needs, treatment, and the need for housing to sustain recovery. The following graphic shows steps they have defined for their recovery pathway, which includes:

  1. Self-realization
  2. A 4-step recovery planning process
  3. Treatment and support
  4. Transitional housing


CBHDA. 2019. What is Behavioral Health?

HRSA Center of Excellence for Behavioral Health Technical Assistance. (2020). Developing and Managing Effective Peer Support Services for OUD: Integrating practice improvement on OUD & SUDs. [July 8, 2020].

San Francisco Adult Probation Reentry Division. Reentry Services. Available at