As the 25th annual Recovery Month draws to a close, I find myself struggling with two very different responses. One is optimism based on attending events scheduled during the month to highlight various aspects of our success in dealing with addictions:
- Professional conferences, such as the one on pain and addiction that Kolmac co-sponsored with the Maryland State Medical Society, attracted physicians and other clinicians and document the progress that we are making in understanding and treating these disorders during Recovery Month and beyond
- Social events, such as Recovery in the Park, attracted over 200 people and their families who are enjoying the benefits of overcoming their addictive disease
- Fundraising events during Recovery Month and beyond, such as those sponsored by the Nikki Perlow Foundation, attract hundreds of people from within as well as from outside the recovery community to transform the tragedy of a death into building financial support to reduce future deaths
During Recovery Month, my other response is one of impatience that the disease of addictions continues to be regarded with a degree of pessimism and stigma that supporters of other diseases, such as cancer and HIV, have succeeded in reducing. I comfort myself that some progress is, in fact, being made.
At the same time, I have to acknowledge that the harm done to others by addicts who are not in recovery creates ongoing negative publicity that is not the case with other chronic illnesses.
A further complication is that some people in recovery believe that the anonymity tradition of 12-Step programs suggests that they will be endangering their recovery if they speak openly about their situation.
Finally, the fact that a public figure has achieved multiple years of recovery is less likely to be reported prominently by the media than is an embarrassing or even fatal relapse.
For those that share my impatience, my preferred approach is the same that I use for those addicted patients of mine whose road to recovery is a bumpy one—to persevere despite setbacks and what feels like too little progress. Let’s use Recovery Month to raise awareness. Contact us to learn more.