Naloxone is saving lives. Criminal justice reform is liberating non-violent drug offenders. Medicated assisted treatment is keeping individuals alive and giving them hope for the future. Prevention campaigns are educating the community about the dangers of drug use and addiction. Increased access to treatment is allowing more people to seek the help they need for their substance use disorders. This is all fantastic progress, but feels like we are helping someone climb a mountain and just stop halfway up.
Recovery support services flat out doesn’t get talked about enough. Not by treatment centers, not by politicians or government officials, not even by the recovery community organizations who have this work in their mission and vision statements! We are being fooled. As a part of the recovery community, we show up for any event that mentions drugs or addiction. It truly feels like we are selling out to show that we are “showing up” for “the cause”.
Once again, everything I mentioned in the initial paragraph is crucial to society and for the recovery movement. However, what I’m saying is that it’s a waste of resources if we do not follow up all of that progress with better recovery supports at the same time. Any high school or college should have active and engaging recovery supports for students battling addiction. Any community should have local recovery organizations that are publicly funded and provide peer support for those in or seeking recovery. Treatment centers should keep their clients engaged through aftercare and alumni groups. Sports teams should host recovery nights. Celebrities in recovery should speak up and give hope to those struggling. Each community or neighborhood should have a resource packet outlining meetings, recovery groups, treatment options, and a variety of other supports for someone struggling or wishing to continue their recovery. We are so behind other medical conditions, and our attention is easily diverted to other areas of the addiction epidemic.
A blog post won’t fix the problem. Tweeting about it won’t fix the problem. Whoever we elect as President won’t fix the problem. It’s our problem. We’re the solution. The recovery community in our country is undoubtedly at a critical mass. 23 million? I don’t know about that, but most of us can agree on “millions”. If that’s the case, we need to be meeting with movers and shakers in our local community to transform this country one by one. Movers and shakers does not necessarily mean Senators, CEOs, or news outlets. It could be a local business owner, a school principal, or a local blogger. We need to educate the community that recovery works, and that we need to be doing everything we can to ensure others have the same shot at recovery that we did.
Yes, the problem is bad. Politicians get that. It’s making headlines now. But recovery is not. The President is talking about addiction because of how bad the epidemic is, not how good recovery can be. Celebrities are being used to push that message across, not the message of hope. Government funding is going to prevention and treatment, not recovery. It’s our responsibility and our opportunity to change the direction we are going. We stand together. We are recovery.
Tim is a graduate student at
The George Washington University
and on the Executive Board of
the Association of Recovery in Higher Education.