The Council on Recovery is Houston’s oldest and largest non-profit provider of addiction prevention, education, treatment and recovery support services, having served our community for 75 years. Here are five little-known facts about The Council that briefly illustrate its longevity, growth, and commitment to the Houston community.
The Council’s origins go back to original founders of Alcoholics Anonymous.
The founders of Alcoholics Anonymous, Bill Wilson and Bob Smith, needed to raise awareness that alcoholism was a disease, and not a moral weakness. Marty Mann stepped up to the challenge and traveled across the United States to educate the public and fight the stigma of addiction. Marty’s lecture in Houston in the fall of 1946 inspired local community members to organize the Houston Committee for the Education on Alcoholism, now called The Council on Recovery.
We had 208 calls in the first year of offering services to the Houston community.
The Committee opened an information center in July 1952 under the direction of Frances A. Robertson to help Houston’s estimated 40,000 alcoholics. This was its first major effort to support those struggling with alcohol abuse. Over the next 75 years, the organization expanded both its reach as it grew larger and technology evolved, and its scope, as it implemented programs to address individuals and families on all points on the spectrum of addiction. In 2020, our intake team received more than 14,000 calls, with an average of 1,360 calls a month.
We once had our own TV show.
Long before we began treating clients directly, The Council’s roots were in community education and awareness. We achieved this through phone calls, pamphlets, and radio appearances, but we also used the budding medium of television. In 1954, we produced a 10-week educational television program on KUHT – Channel 8. Council staff member Mary Catherine Brown developed and hosted it.
We led the effort in Houston to treat people struggling with alcohol abuse with compassion.
For the first half of the 20th century, “revolving door” alcoholics who needed compassion and care were instead sent to prison, sanitariums, or, specifically in Houston, penal labor farms just outside the city. From the 1950s to the 1970s, The Council led an interagency effort to establish multiple halfway houses and detox centers in Houston to enable these people to recover and become contributing members of their community.
Our first fundraiser was a barbecue in 1948.
Early records include newspaper clippings advertising a barbecue fundraiser in support of the Houston Committee for the Education on Alcoholism in April 1948. Entertainment for this event included a one-act play entitled “What Can We Do?” which illustrated the Committee’s history and work. Our inaugural luncheon event was in the spring of 1984, and featured former first lady and mental health advocate Betty Ford as the keynote speaker. This event spawned the popular speaker series that continues today and has raised millions of dollars in support of local families impacted by addiction.
Learn more about the rich history of The Council on Recovery in our 75th anniversary feature, Hope Ripples Out, and consider making a gift to help continue our vital work for the next 75 years and beyond.