The world of substance use disorder (SUD) recovery is growing in all directions. One beautiful thing about this global community is that there are so many ways to become involved. If you or someone you know has been wanting to do more to support recovery, whether locally or at a larger scale, look no further. Perhaps you have multiple family members in or seeking recovery, or maybe you’re just beginning to learn about the recovery advocacy movement. No matter your path in life or how closely or distantly you feel connected to this work, you can become – or continue to be! – a recovery ally in a number of ways. Today I will highlight three actions that make someone a fantastic recovery ally: use empowering language and educate others as to its importance; getting involved with a local recovery organization; and attending recovery workshops, rallies, and conferences.
Recovery Ally Action #1:
Speak openly about the importance of language. This is incredibly impactful in terms of breaking down the stigma that is, unfortunately, still attached to substance use disorders and recovery. Rather than calling people “addicts” or “junkies”, refer to them more compassionately and accurately as a “person with a substance use disorder”. Rather than calling someone a “recovering addict”, refer to them as a “person in recovery”. These changes in language (which have officially been recommended by the Office of National Drug Control Policy) have already had an enormous impact on the way certain media outlets, medical professionals, and political leaders are treating the world of SUD and recovery. Sure, there might be a discomfort that comes with calling out someone’s choice of language. But, think about the impact that you can have on your community by using – and teaching others to use – humanizing and non-stigmatizing language. I would say that the latter greatly outweighs the former!
Recovery Ally Action #2:
Get involved with a local recovery organization. Whether this contribution looks like a monthly monetary donation or the giving of your time as a volunteer, your community will benefit greatly from your involvement. Certain states and towns are more heavily populated by these organizations than others. Visit our recovery centers page to see if there is a Life of Purpose location in your state. If not, an internet search including your town name + “recovery center” or “recovery organization” should help get you started in the right direction! Don’t be shy about giving your local recovery center (if you have one!) a call to introduce yourself or, better yet, make a visit and check the place out! The more allies that are involved with our local and nationwide efforts, the better. Your interest and contributions show the community that this issue requires a collaborative solution.
Recovery Ally Action #3:
Attend recovery workshops, rallies, and conferences. The best way to find out about what exists in your part of the country is to, again, do a quick internet search. Most recovery centers and organizations have a calendar published on their website which includes annual rallies and conferences. Although National Recovery Month is celebrated in September, there are events going on all year long. Most of these would be thrilled to have an additional sponsor and/or volunteer. The positive impact of your getting involved as an ally cannot be emphasized enough!
You can help to normalize recovery by taking any of these actions and you can create your own ally actions, too! What will yours be? If you find there is a Life of Purpose treatment center on a campus near you, please feel free to introduce yourself. Take the first step to changing the recovery landscape and become a recovery ally in 2017, and you might find this is a New Year’s Resolution you actually keep!