America’s Future Depends on Recovery
Seated inside the Westgate Casino ballroom in Las Vegas Nevada are over one hundred of the greatest thinkers in America, attending the Mobilize Recovery conference of 2019. What is unusual about this gathering is that these minds are largely attached to those who are in long-term recovery from substance use. That’s right.
People in recovery= greatest minds.
The future of America as we know it will be shaped by the advocacy work surrounding recovery from substance use. If you don’t recognize the impact of addiciton on the American all that is needed is to begin to recognize the exorbitant cost to the American economy- incarceration, lost productivity in the workplace, and trauma related services will cost us billions of dollars annually. Everyone knows the hurt hits us in the wallet. Let’s be frank: 192 people died daily (on average) in 2018 from substance use related occurrences. We will be paying the fall out from those deaths for generations to come. Imagine this image: a foreign government hires an official to poison 192 Americans. They pass away. The collective outrage in our country is alight, and the decision needs to be made whether to go to war. The next day dawns, and the foreign country strikes again; another attack. 192 pass.
If this happened to us we could not march to war fast enough. Well here’s the punchline- this is happening to us. And we are not only committed not to fighting this war, but we haven’t even armed ourselves appropriately. And, worst of all, many of our citizens are convinced that those 192 daily deaths are “getting what they deserve.”
Most of us (people in recovery) started using at an early age, for myself it happened to be 11. So the question of “deserving” our early death comes down to the judgment of a decision we made when we were a preteen. So here’s the question; what was your decision making like when you were 11? Did it involve a Victoria’s Secret catalogue? Or booger eating? Bullying? All of the above?
No one is basing the value of your life on your worst behavior (thank goodness). Yet those in the recovery and substance use community have had their value attached to their decisions in adolescence. That’s how we arrive at our current climate and approach in our country surrounding this issue.
I am a person in long-term recovery, which for me means that I haven’t used drugs or alcohol for more than thirteen years. Since then I have graduated two colleges, become an international missionary, a husband, and a father. There are millions more that are walking in recovery like I am, and we do not make headlines, though the media is paying more attention now than we ever have.
I do not know the cure for addicition, but I know that it is multifaceted and complex. The solution will be as holistic as the nature of addicition itself. The good news is this- millions of the greatest people I know are working to form a different narrative and attaching their image and lives to a community that it is still acceptable to marginalize. The future is here and as John Shinholser says “history is on our side.” Soon it will no longer be popular to oppress, discriminate against and reject people based on a decision they made when they were 12 years old.
This is the call to action: join us now. Soon there will be more risk in oppressing us than there is in joining us. Do you like to be right?! Than join us now. For the future of this country, for the hope that your children will not be the “lucky ones” if they survive addiction. If you don’t have a personal relationship with someone in recovery, or you don’t know how to enter into helping this issue in your context, just ask (literally, I can help you help others). We are the people of recovery, and we are your neighbors, doctors, friends, you just may not know it, yet.
Join us on the right side history.