September 2020 Is National Recovery Month – Perspectives from the Front Lines
During August, and especially on International Overdose Awareness Day (August 31st), we remember and honor the lives of those who lost their battle with Substance Use Disorder. During September, which has been designated by SAMHSA as National Recovery Month, we realign our perspectives to honoring and supporting those who have embraced recovery over active addiction. September has become a time for recovery events and celebrations, community outreach, awareness building, and fundraising initiatives for groups and agencies on the front lines of the battle against addiction. Mercer Council on Alcoholism and Drug Addiction is no exception, and participates in (and supports) numerous events throughout Recovery Month.
At this time, we have asked our staff on the Mercer County Opioid Overdose Recovery Program (OORP) to share their personal reflections on what Recovery Month, and more importantly Recovery in general, means to them on an individual level. Here are some of the responses we have received from our staff on the front lines of the battle against Substance Use Disorder.
OORP Program Patient Navigator Brian Bittings shared: “Recovery to me means freedom from the bondage of addiction, the peace only GOD can give, and the courage to live life today, sober! Celebrating Recovery Month with allies and advocates in Recovery is reassuring that Recovery is real, and it is possible. Each new day brings its challenges, and today, as a humbled and grateful recovering alcoholic, I can approach every uncertain with freedom, peace, and courage knowing GOD Blessed me to see another day of sobriety.”.
Peer Recovery Specialist and Navigator Assistant David DeCamp stated: “As a person in long-term Recovery, Recovery Month offers an incredible opportunity to reflect deeply on the tragic consequences of Substance Use Disorder over the last decade, the countless friends and clients who have succumbed to the disease, as well as the incredible miracles I have witnessed and personally experienced in Recovery. It is a month full of somber ceremonies and vigils for those we have lost, but also a month of joyous celebrations and fundraisers for Recovery advocacy groups helping the next wave of sufferers. Each year I have the opportunity to help organize and execute recovery fundraising events for several 501c(3) non-profit organizations that provide vital Recovery services to their communities. Recovery Month also provides me with an annual ‘self-check/inventory’ opportunity, to gauge how my own Recovery work is progressing, and what needs to be done to be of maximum service to those who are still sick and suffering in the coming months and years.”.
Peer Recovery Specialist Matt Redden voiced: “What does Recovery mean to me? There is not much that goes without saying when it comes to Recovery. I, in the beginning of my journey, used to interpret being ‘in Recovery’, meant living a perfect lifestyle. Sheesh, was I wrong. I soon learned that being ‘in Recovery’ simply meant recovering from a seemingly hopeless state of mind. That is exactly what I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to do, and it’s what happened. Life was daunting, dark, and meaningless for so long. Finding a way of life that included things like contentment, enlightenment, and fulfillment saved me. The reward for practicing willingness and honesty were 10x greater than any mind or mood altering substance. Trust me, I have tried them all! Advocating for Recovery seems so simple yet those who need it most don’t always find their way. It is an absolute process, no question about that. However, I look back and chuckle at all of the simple things I had to do in order to get where I am today. So if you ask me what does Recovery mean to me? I’d say ‘The juice is 1000% worth the squeeze, so squeeze hard’.”.
Peer Recovery Specialist Adrienne Petta stated: “Many years ago, I was taught never to look down on someone unless you were pulling them up. I believe this applies now more than ever with all the happenings in the world today. With Recovery Month here, it’s a great time to reflect on the stigma that still surrounds the mental health and addiction community. I have seen firsthand the mentality of the sick and suffering refusing or denying that they have a problem just because they don’t want to be judged. In Recovery, I try my best to live by the motto of never looking down on someone unless I am pulling them up. If I can help walk side-by-side with someone in their journey, all while not making them feel shame or guilt, then that is just one of the many rewards that I have been given through my own recovery each day.”.
Peer Recovery Specialist Stacey Ross had these thoughts to share: “Recovery Month to me is an opportunity to reflect on how far I have come in my personal Recovery process. It is about learning from setbacks, as well as successes. It allows me the opportunity to be an example of Recovery in action to others, who are still struggling with the disease of Substance Use Disorder. The greatest gift of Recovery to me is integrity: being a woman of grace and dignity who shows up for others on a daily basis. Watching the light of Recovery come alive in someone else’s eyes is truly a gift. And of course my connection to a higher power that lets me face all life challenges with confidence and commitment.”.
And finally, Mercer Council Executive Director, and OORP Program Supervisor Jocelyn Cooper wrote: "To me, Recovery means that even those who are not individuals with a personal lived experience with substance use, can be allies, advocates and accomplices to the Recovery community and to others, family members, colleagues, friends, acquaintances who have not yet found their path to Recovery. To me, celebrating Recovery means getting involved with organizations and in events that support and uplift the Recovery community. It means sharing safe space with individuals both experiencing current challenges related to use of substances as well as individuals in Recovery. It means listening to and amplifying voices of the Recovery community. It means being trained in the use of Narcan and having other helpful resources at my disposal to pass along to others in times of need. It is using inclusive and person centered language and raising awareness about language with others. It is recognizing and promoting that there is hope and that there are people who want to help in a compassionate and non-judgmental way. It is working with our team to be the change we wish to see and provide support and hope to others.".