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Nirco-Northwestern Community-Academic Partnership

In a community-academic partnership, NIRCO partners with Buehler Center for Health Policy and Economics, Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University addressing health barriers in long-term recovery for persons of color with Journey through recovery—pathways to health and wellness focusing on reducing health-related barriers to long-term recovery for those with substance misuse.

The project will bring together community organizations, government representatives, policymakers, service providers, academic researchers, and persons with lived substance misuse experience to identify community priorities for reducing chronic health condition-related barriers to recover from substance misuse disorder for persons of color in Lake County.

In the coming year, the partnership will:

1.Gather input from persons with lived experience through focus groups, community
meetings, and surveys.
2.Host a series of listening sessions for input from community, professionals, and resource
partners to begin formal planning.
3.Develop a long-term agenda for research partnership projects to address the issues

Chronic Health Conditions & Recovery Journey

This work provides a foundation for program development. We are working to develop a project that could provide community health worker training specific to the needs of persons of color in recovery.



We hosted three community listening sessions and one community dialogue session with persons in recovery, recovery service providers, faith-based organizations, community institutions, emergency services and health care providers to identify barriers, facilitators, and priorities for persons of color with chronic health conditions.


  • Understanding experiences of POC in substance misuse recovery intersection with chronic health management
  • Identify community priorities for reducing challenges
  • Develop program ideas

Findings Summary

Management of chronic conditions is important to substance misuse recovery.

Needs related to having a low-income, racism, and substance misuse recovery needs intersect to create challenges to chronic condition management for people of color in Lake County, IL.

  • Lack of access to good health insurance
  • Need for transportation to multiple health care services providers
  • Unwelcoming (racist) health care systems
  • Providers’ lack of knowledge/awareness and stigma towards recovery needs
  • Health knowledge gaps for persons in recovery
  • Preferred strategies to address needs and support persons in recovery in managing chronic health conditions were:
      • educating health care providers/systems
      • advocacy for health care access
      • peer-to-peer support

Print Project Brochure 

Working Paper

About Nirco

Northern Illinois Recovery Community Organization (NIRCO). NIRCO is the first and only recovery community organization in Lake County, Illinois.Its mission is to promote recovery principles for individuals and families and strengthen recovery advocacy, peer engagement, and community collaboration in Northern Illinois. NIRCO's vision is to provide recovery support services and peer-to-peer education through advocacy for multiple pathways to recovery and throughout all stages of recovery. Dr. Mary Roberson, NIRCO Executive Director, will serve as the community partner.

(847) 662-3205

202 S Genesee St, Waukegan, IL 60085