Those of us who have found a path in Recovery, or are just setting out on the journey often face a dilemma when it comes to disclosure about our problem. Sadly this often means we also remain silent about our solution.
Openly sharing with others our “status” can be a worrying, even stressful decision. Whether accepting the disease model and following a treatment program, making a personal decision to change, making new lifestyle choices or embracing a faith-based adjustment to our way of life – the stigma and shame of an addiction or substance dependence is often a key factor in determining who we tell, when we tell it and why.
Whilst this is a personal choice, and should always be, it is worth noting that our visibility could be invaluable to others, and to our own continued well being.
There is a growing consciousness among many people in Recovery that the shame and stigma (still so real in our societies around the condition) plays a major part in blocking access to help. Attitudes to addiction also play a major part in drug policies all over the world, as well as influencing approaches to addiction treatment, employment, social housing and education. Recent years have witnessed the growth of many new approaches to aspects of addiction, most of them coming from community organisations, some specialists in the field and those in the vanguard of the growing “recovery movement”. (Coincidentally there is a simultaneous and growing awareness of the desirability not to be dependent on mood or mind altering substances to enjoy life.)
Organisations are emerging, academics are writing, researching and developing advocacy propositions that support Recovery. Many recovering addicts would agree, stopping is the easy bit, staying stopped is harder. There is a need for support whether it is in the form of accessible physical and mental check ups, ongoing counselling or local community facilities.
When it comes to Recovery organisation it seems that our friends in America often lead the way.
In the US organisations like Faces And Voices Of Recovery (FAVOR) crystallize their aims simply and clearly obviously helps “we aim to raise the profile of the organized recovery community and help more people find recovery by demonstrating that over 23 million Americans from all walks of life have found recovery and promote widespread understanding that long-term recovery is a reality and a process that takes time and support.”
Going further FAVOR also lay out a series of achievable goals. They advocate for laws and policies that enable recovery, health, wellness and civic engagement for individuals, families and communities affected by alcohol and other drugs.
In the UK the annual UK Recovery Walk is just part of FAVOR UK’s developing structure with similar aims to the US. FAVOR UK aim to show there are viable and varied recovery solutions for alcohol and other drug problems. Members of the organization discuss their Recovery openly showing they are examples of real people who illustrate the diversity of recovery solutions whilst challenging any public attempt to dehumanise, objectify and demonise those trying to deal with their personal situation. Advocacy for variety, availability, and quality of local treatment as well as recovery support services is at the core of their work. Further engagement with legislators aims to remove barriers to recovery and the promotion of laws and social policies that reduce alcohol and other drug problems
Canada is also home to a growing Recovery structure, working on each local City level but connected through a national “umbrella”. The Scottish Recovery Consortium continue with their plans to enable community based organizations and help local initiatives thrive.
With all this advocacy, all this action, all this activity it might be time to give some thought to our personal decisions when it comes to sharing our own stories.
FAVOR have announced Recovery Advocacy Action Week #RAAW16 from May 2nd to May 6th, so the Online Recovery Academy will be posting each day this week on the daily theme.