Let’s sensationalize recovery

It just so happens that Dawn Farm is co-sponsoring a screening of the film next week.

One Crafty Mother has a post responding to The Anonymous People.

That last bullet point is the one I want to focus on. [There are over 23 million people in long term recovery in America alone.] Changing the public’s perception of addiction by TALKING ABOUT RECOVERY. Because, everyone, RECOVERY WORKS. There are more people in recovery from addiction than there are suffering from it.

Here’s the rub, though. People don’t recover on their own. Every single recovery program focuses on community – on finding other addicts and alcoholics who understand where you are and can help you navigate life without alcohol or drugs.

It doesn’t matter what program of recovery you follow. Recovery advocacy is for EVERYONE.

You don’t have to talk about HOW you recovery, just THAT you recover.

For those of us in programs that have anonymity as a tradition and who are confused about breaking this tradition, this point is KEY. How you stay sober isn’t relevant. You do not have to be a mouthpiece for an individual program of recovery. You can talk about recovery without ever mentioning how you do it. When someone who is suffering asks you how you stay sober (and if you talk about recovery they will ask, I guarantee it), then you are free to share – in the sacredness of a one-on-one (or group) setting – how you do it.

But until the public understands that RECOVERY HAPPENS, people are going to stay stuck in addiction. People are going to misunderstand what addiction means. People aren’t going to know it is quite literally on every street in America. Every street has someone stuck in the darkness and isolation of addiction, and every street has someone thriving in recovery. We have enough coverage of the destruction of addiction. We sensationalize the stories of celebrities crashing cars, going in and out of rehab. We condemn the havoc alcoholism and addiction bring to society.

We are sensationalizing the wrong thing. Let’s sensationalize recovery.

She’s got a great message and very gracefully addresses a couple of potential pitfalls. I like encouraging advocacy while also respecting traditions of anonymity. I also like her emphasizes that there are lots of ways to be an advocate and each recovering person can find their own advocacy approach.

I love her passion and clarity. I’m going to have to watch this blog.

I’ve got one quibble with the statistic the film uses–23 million Americans in recovery. That is based on surveys asking people something to effect of, “Have you previously had a problem with drugs or alcohol and no longer have one?” That kind of question is going to get a lot of false-positives for what we think of as recovery.

The point, however, is there there are large numbers of people in long term recovery in the U.S. And, unfortunately, when people think of addiction, they don’t think of recovering people like me or friends who are doctors, nurses, lawyers, business owners, moms, dads, bothers, sisters, etc. Instead, they think of us as social parasites, or worse, scary people committing a violent or property crime.

Telling our stories is powerful. Dawn Farm often takes clients or alumni to speak to community groups like the Lions, Optimists, Rotary or school groups. The response is always the same–shock that the clients are just like their niece, nephew, neighbor, grandchild, etc.

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