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As National Recovery Month comes to a close, there is no better time to challenge a long-held and systemic belief about recovery: that recovery is synonymous with AA. Yet, the ideological lens through which we, as a society and institutionally, view recovery — our medical profession, judicial system, and medical boards — is that the doctrine of AA is the only solution to substance use disorders. However, it is an option that doesn’t meet the needs of those disproportionately affected by substance use disorders.

Our drug courts direct people to a 12-step program as an alternative to jail. Doctors and…


Dating is one of the hardest things to navigate as a sober person. Paying attention to relationship red flags can help you throughout the dating process.

During my eight years of recovery, I’ve been through it all: being lied to, having my recovery endangered by dating someone who was (unbeknownst to me) using, being gaslit and held emotionally hostage, and being so concerned about someone else’s mental well-being that I have had to call the police to do a welfare check.

Even though I think it is probably an unrealistic guideline, I do think there is value in waiting a year before dating in early recovery — it isn’t for the faint of heart. …


When I tell people I’m a writer, I am almost always greeted with wide-eyes and a sense of awe. Wow! They exclaim. That’s amazing!

For some reason meeting a published writer attracts a level of notoriety. If only they knew that I’m paying for my kale and cranberry salad with my credit card and that I have no idea how I’m going to pay my bills next month — I think to myself.

We’re considered one of the creatives in the world: a wordsmith who weaves their magic arranging words into a masterpiece online and in print.

Writing is a…


Making blanket statements that “anyone can recover” whitewashes and overlooks the gross inequities that people of color and marginalized communities face.

Image credit: https://www.dreamstime.com/fizkes_info

Recovery is vastly different for those who lack financial security, education, health insurance, and a support system

Recovery is possible for anyone, but it isn’t the reality for everyone. …


Overlooking the physical impact that substance use disorder has had on our bodies will exacerbate disordered eating and poor mental health. As many as 72% of women with alcohol use disorder also have an eating disorder.

Substance use disorder can cause considerable damage to our bodies that can take years to even out.

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Diet culture is insidious. We spend our lives obsessed with our bodies — always wishing for a smaller shape, scrutinizing the size of the portions on our plates, and unscrupulously comparing ourselves to thinner people. It’s damaging because it leads us to equate our worth with our…


Being of service means sharing our story of recovery to someone who is struggling or taking a newcomer to their first meeting, not taking away someone’s ability to support themselves.

Asking someone to work for free isn’t service — it’s exploitation.

Photo by JESHOOTS.COM on Unsplash

The greatest travesty in our field is exploiting people with lived experience for free labor. Peers and other recovery support specialists should be paid a fair, living wage. -Robert Ashford

I have lost count of the number of times I’ve been asked to provide some kind of service — giving a talk, organizing an event, facilitating a panel discussion…


Being of service means sharing our story of recovery to someone who is struggling or taking a newcomer to their first meeting, not taking away someone’s ability to support themselves.

Photo by JESHOOTS.COM on Unsplash

Asking someone to work for free isn’t service — it’s exploitation.

“The greatest travesty in our field is exploiting people with lived experience for free labor. Peers and other recovery support specialists should be paid a fair, living wage.” — Robert Ashford

I have lost count of the number of times I’ve been asked to provide some kind of service — giving a talk, organizing an event, facilitating a panel…


Photo by Tim Marshall on Unsplash

The term “sober curious” has been increasing in popularity in recent years. It is a movement that is gaining traction among millennials who are more health-conscious. Perhaps some have been drawn to the sober lifestyle by social media influencers who give us a glimpse into the expansive life that can be found in recovery. For individuals already in recovery, however, there are some mixed views of those who are sober curious — those not in favor criticize the sober curious as tourists who didn’t have to make the same life-changing decision to get sober that they did. …


Photo by Greta Schölderle Møller on Unsplash

While we’ve made great strides with harm reduction for people who use opioids, we’re slow to provide non-abstinence-based treatment for people who use other drugs.

Our approach to recovery has been too one-dimensional.

A quick glance at the news reveals the catastrophic effects of opioids across the nation: around 120 people a day die from opioid-related overdoses. It’s so devastating that the nation is calling it an opioid epidemic. Yet even as we watch this tragedy unfold, we’re missing the point.

By focusing exclusively on opioids, we’re overlooking the harm caused by other deadly drugs. …


Are the alarming headlines justified? And should the risks associated with vaping be a deterrent when the alternative is smoking cigarettes?

Photo by John Caroro on Unsplash

Urgent public health epidemic or knee-jerk reaction?

Over the past few weeks we’ve seen a surge of headlines that say vaping may be more harmful than we might have initially thought. Seven deaths have been linked to the use of e-cigarettes. In response, some states have banned vaping products. …

Olivia Pennelle

Writer. Journalist. Activist. MSW student. Passionate about challenging perspectives on addiction and recovery. www.livsrecoverykitchen.com

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