Our family Members in Long Term Recovery are Worth the Investment

Our family Members in Long Term Recovery are Worth the Investment

I’ve amassed a great resume of the years since
joining the military in 1986. This mass was not due to service or goodwill by
any stretch, but rather so I could gain the recognition and respect from family
and friends (not strangers, mind you, at least not yet anyway…) Once I found
recovery from my own addiction to controlling behaviors and drugs (my DOC is
Pot, Maryjane, Cannabis) I would wipe my resume clean and just put on a
business card my phone number and…”Hello My name is Mark Gladden, I am a person in long term recovery, which means to me that I have not used acohol or mind
altering drugs since September 24, 2014…..(I wonder what the employer would say
to that!
😉 ) I look forward to meeting
your challenge Mary!



People in Long Term Recovery Why We Are Worth the Investment
I was struck recently by a moving pictorial essay in a Time Special Report, Opioid Diaries,
photographs by James Nachtwey. It was filled with evocative and wrenching
images of the ravages of treatment, it was a convincing argument for
intervention into a devastation of entire communities. The helplessness of the
first responders was palpable on page, as they are overwhelmed by the body
count. I was overwhelmed and heartbroken as each page was more urgent than the next. I felt the way I feel in the face of the animal rescue commercials during the holidays as my indulged
cats curl on my lap in front of a warm fire. Most of the time I have to hit the mute button – and I felt relieved
when I finished the pictorial essay for the same reason. (1)
I started to
wonder, “Do other people turn away for the same reason?”
People in Long Term Recovery
often disappear from view in the media, and sometimes even from the rooms
of recovery, as we become successful and stable. The policymakers, families,
struggling addicts, the media, school boards, NIMBY community, and your
neighbors don’t see images of successful recovery in a time when the opioid
crisis is killing thousands of addicts a day. Frequent images of broken addicts
and families contribute to the internalized stigma the alcoholic/addict and the
community carry. While we need to intervene and treatment is vital, people need
to see how the story continues.
We are only addressing one half of the story.
We are addressing the illness, and we are begging for desperately needed
treatment. Often we are doing so through “scared straight” stories and videos.
Yet where are the images of the contribution recovering people make? What does
the community GET for the investment in us?
Here’s what the community “got” because I stopped binge drinking
alcoholically by the time I was 27. I entered the rooms of recovery through a
Twelve Step program and I believe this has allowed me to:
·        
Work in every level of addiction treatment from Intake
to Counseling to Clinical Supervision to Program Ownership. I have been able to
participate in the recovery of thousands of adducts over almost 30 years.
·        
Start and maintain
the largest addiction
counselor training program
through San Jose City
College since 1990. We have largely staffed the addiction treatment programs in
our county for years.
·        
Write multiple recovery books, some of which are using
in academic settings to train additional addiction treatment counselors.
·        
Train addiction recovery counselors in India and
Indonesia, at time being the first to introduce professional addiction
counseling standards to the region.
These are just the professional ways I have been able to participate in my community. It does not outline the contribution to my relationships, my family, and the children
in my life. I own a home, pay taxes, and I am NOT unusual. In
fact, I’m rather typical. Recovering people tend to be generous with service,
donate to charities, and are aware of social and economic inequity. We tend to
value our relationships because we have often had to rebuild them.
It is time to shine a light on
people who are in recovery and, in doing so, expose the long-hidden reality that people actually
do recovery from drug and alcohol addiction; that it’s a chronic disease that can be successfully managed
for life; and that it affects individuals who are every bit as moral,
productive, intelligent, talented – and humanly flawed – as the next person.
(2)
Recovering people are more likely to help you jump your dead car battery
or give you a ride and actually show up on time. We tend to have a skewed sense
of humor, and often possess an unusual humility about ourselves. There can be a
gratitude for life people who have fewer scars and rough edges cannot
have. We have fabulous bullshit
detectors, and acute sensitivity to other
people’s “energy.” We are resourceful and have difficulty coloring inside the
lines sometimes. We may not always be as politically correct as we should be,
and often have colorful language.
Are there recovering people who are are none of these things? Still as
narcissistic and as “jack- assy” as they were when they were using? Maybe even
worse? OF COURSE. We’re people.
But what you need to know about most people in recovery, particularly if
they got clean and sober through a Twelve Step program, is that service and
personal accountability through the Steps are key to long-term recovery. People
who are not in recovery do not have these ethics at times, which is why we’re such a good bet. When we’re committed
to long term recovery, we are
committed to taking responsibility for ourselves, “keeping
our side of the street
clean, “ which is
rare in a litigious society filled with ways to blame other people for bad luck
or personal discomfort.
Recovery needs to come out of the
basement. We need a new language, a logo, T-shirts, a theme song, websites, TV ads, posters
in buses, sobriety
bars, sober sporting
events, a sobriety
lobby, a recovery
caucus, celebrity spokespersons, and corporate sponsors. We need the public relations
of attraction, not invisibility.
— Rob Fleming, Advocate, Recovery Works,
Washington, D.C.
Society is repaid ten-fold for their investment in our early recovery.
I’m not the only one that thinks so– keep reading!
“Every American is acutely aware of
the negative impact of drug and alcohol addiction; it’s impossible to ignore.
Yet we have somehow missed a very positive story about addiction that is right
in front of our nose: Tens of millions of our fellow citizens come out the
other side to live substance-free, healthy and productive lives.
This study {OASAS)
is a wake-up call to the reality
of recovery in America,
as well as a source of hope for the millions of American families
who are currently struggling
with drug and alcohol problems.” — Keith Humphreys, Professor of Psychiatry at
Stanford University School of Medicine (3)
Survey data released
in 2012 by the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids and The New York State Office of Alcoholism and Substance
Abuse Services (OASAS)
show that 10 percent of all American
adults, ages 18 and older, said yes to the question, “Did you once have a problem with drugs or
alcohol, but no longer do?
” and consider themselves to be in recovery from
drug or alcohol abuse problems. These nationally representative findings indicate
that there are 23.5 million
American adults who are overcoming an involvement with drugs or alcohol
that they once considered to be problematic.
(4)
“This research marks a vitally important step for those
who are struggling with addiction by offering clear evidence to support what
many know experientially – that millions of Americans have found a path to
recovery,” said New York State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse
Services (OASAS) Commissioner Arlene González-Sánchez. “It is my hope that this new evidence will strengthen and inspire
individuals and those that provide treatment and recovery services to help the
broader community understand that treatment does work and recovery is
possible.” (5)
Who are these recovering Americans?
We are business owners, teachers, hi-tech managers, union presidents,
parents, counselors, coaches, medical professionals, attorneys. . . People in Long Term Recovery are a quiet
backbone that provides needed
stability in our communities. We are proof that recovery
works, and money invested in addiction treatment is
money well-spent!
For this
purposes of this discussion, I am defining successful long-term recovery as 5
years or more:
·        
Stable co-occurring or addiction recovery over 5 years through a range
of recovery traditions (AA, NA OA, Celebrate Recovery, Red Road Recovery, Dual
Recovery Anonymous, etc.)
·        
Stable participation in work, volunteer work, or school over this
period of time
·        
Stable and growing relationships with family and friends
·        
Successfully discharged criminal justice obligations

Why 5 years or more?

According to AA World Services, about 40% of all AA
members who have already been sober for less than a year will remain both sober
and active in AA another year; 60 percent of this group will either lose
sobriety or stop participating in AA during the next year, or both. About 80%
of those participants who have been sober between one and five years will
remain both sober and active in the fellowship another
year. About 90% of the members who have been sober five years
or more will remain both sober and active in the fellowship another year. (AA’s
survey could not determine the
number of people who remain sober but discontinue participation in AA groups).
These figures have been repeated within a few percentage points using the same
calculations since 1974. (6)
There are famous people, of course:
Singer and
songwriter, Eric Clapton, has been sober
for nearly 3 decades
. He struggled with heroin in the 70s and later turned
to alcohol, before finally getting sober once and for all. He now demonstrates a strong commitment to recovery, holding
benefits and even opening his own
treatment center.
“I thought that if I stopped drinking and I stopped using drugs…I would
not be able to play anymore. In other words, those were things that were
necessary for inspiration. But it was a shortcut. My experience now tells me in
a long time of being in recovery, that I can be a good musician with or without
that philosophy.”
The Fix Article, 2013 (7)

Actor, Bradley
Cooper, struggled with an alcohol
and painkiller addiction prior to getting
sober at 29 in 2012. With
over a decade of sobriety under his belt, he says that he wouldn’t be where he
is today without his recovery.

“I wouldn’t have been able to have access to myself or other people, or
even been able to take in other people, if I hadn’t changed my life. I never
would have been able to have the relationships that I do. I never would have
been able to take care of my father the way I did when he was sick.”
The Fix Article, 2015 (8)

Actress, Jada Pinkett Smith, admits to
struggling with addictions in her youth. Her younger days were difficult, due to her mother being addicted to hard drugs. There were times that she didn’t imagine she would make it to 21.
Now at the age of 45, she has almost 19 years of sobriety.

“I had many addictions, of several kinds, to deal with my life issues,
but today, at 42, I have my wisdom, my heart and my conscience as the only
tools to  overcome  life’s 
inevitable  obstacles.”
Los Angeles Times Article, 2013 (9)
Athlete,
Chris Herren
, was addicted to cocaine and Oxytocin, which eventually
turned into full- blown heroin addiction.






After a sever overdose in which the former athlete
had to be brought back to life, he realized it was time to
get clean. Now sober, this former athlete created Hoop Dreams with Chris
Herren, a basketball camp, and became a motivational speaker for others in
recovery. He started The Herren Project, a non-profit offering scholarships and
teaching children about health an addiction. Herren as also the focus of
Unguarded, an Emmy-nominated ESPN documentary about his career and recovery. (10)
Most of us aren’t
famous. However, we might be in our own circle
of influence. Some people say that
every addict or alcohol affects
at least six people. That means every recovering person might
affect at least six people.
I am asking
people with long term recovery to participate
in a project,
People in Long Term Recovery (piltr.org). I am
asking you for the greatest service you can offer to the families who need
hope, to a correctional system that is threatening to return to mandatory
sentencing, to political policy makers, to the newly recovering person who
looks into the media and has very few role models. We need YOU to be willing to
step forward and claim your recovering success.
·        
Maybe you addressed your gambling addiction years ago and have moved on
to a successful financial and personal life.
·        
Maybe you picked up your last DUI and divorce years ago and are now
happily married and professionally stable.
·        
Maybe you haven’t
been in a courtroom for years due to your addiction and sit in a boardroom instead.
·        
Maybe you stopped
relapsing by addressing your mental health
issues years ago and your psych
meds have given you back your life.
·        
Maybe you found Al-anon years to stop crying all the time, and have
gone on to have more joy in your life, and are surrounded by healthy relationships.
At piltr.org, we have provided
a template for you to create a 2-3 minute
video and we are asking you to send it in to be part of advocating for us, for your own people, by publicly proclaiming that recovery works – and we pay taxes! Send your video to mary.cook@sjcc.edu.
You are what William White calls
a, “Recovery carrier.”
In the closing of the keynote
address at the Northeast Treatment Centers (NET) Consumer
Council
Recognition Dinner celebrating the recovery progress
and service activities of NET members
and the 40th Anniversary of NET, April 14, 2010, Philadelphia, PA. William White offered the following
comments during his presentation, Recovery
is Contagious
. (11)
“The contagion of addiction is transmitted through a process of
infection—the movement of addiction disease from one vulnerable person to
another. The contagion of recovery is spread quite differently—not through
infection, but affection. Those who spread such affection are recovery
carriers. Recovery carriers—because
of the nature of their character and the quality of their lives—exert a
magnetic attraction to those who are still suffering. Recovery carriers affirm
that long-term recovery is possible and that the promises of recovery are far
more than the removal of drugs from an otherwise unchanged
life. They tell us that we have the potential
to get well and to then get
better than well. They challenge us to stop being everyone’s problem and to
become part of the solution. They relate to us from a position of profound
empathy, emotional authenticity, respect and moral equality—lacking even a whisper
of contempt. Most importantly,
they offer us love.” – William White
References

7.    24 Celebrities Who Are Celebrating Their Sobriety

8.    24 Celebrities Who Are Celebrating Their Sobriety

9.    24 Celebrities Who Are Celebrating Their Sobriety

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