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Friday, August 2, 2013

Celebrate Recovery -- Breaking Chains and Addictions

"You gave me words of hope, 
Are they not long delayed?
The plum-tree is remembered by the Spring,
Though it seemed dead with frost."


Celebrate recovery. Give thanks for the means of reclaiming purpose and meaning in life. Rejoice in gifts of recovery -- deliverance, redemption, and rebirth. Take faith in the reality of human healing -- the mending of hearts, souls, and lives.

Some would scoff at the efforts of the recovery community. Putting all their understanding of addiction in a narrow view of abuse as self-inflicted destructive behavior, these critics believe money, time, and effort to help those who chose "the wrong path" is improper allocation. As they adhere to their rigid moral and religious behaviors, many say that addicts, no one else, are solely responsible for their fate. And, who can argue that the addict is ultimately responsible for his or her own recovery? I do not.

However... to stereotype, judge, and condemn are risky behaviors that prevent people from understanding the critical need for recovery and for helping a caring society build much-needed programs to facilitate saving innocent lives. In condemning recovery, people sentence sinners to lives behind bars and certain death. This judgment is neither ethical not biblical in its foundation.

The recovering addict is the strongest link in preventing drug abuse. Through personal experience, recovering addicts discover the truth about dependency and its devastating effects. They understand the need to reach others and take an active parts in prevention. These self-proclaimed "fortunate survivors" are the most adamant supporters of sobriety who willingly share their stories and time with others. Many recovering addicts dedicate their lives to careers requiring extensive education in the fields of health and counseling.

The Need
The most recent report highlights admissions for the years 1997 through 2007 for various drugs and alcohol abuse treatments. The total number of admissions for drug treatment reported in the United States in 2007 was approximately 1.8 million. Another study, conducted by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, indicated that 23.5 million individuals suffered from an illicit drug abuse or alcohol problem in the year 2009. A mere 11.2 percent, or 2.1 million people, obtained help from a specialized facility.

The Reality

Recovery is no easy "turn around" or "quick fix." Every year, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) publishes data on the statistics of drug rehab programs from facilities that are licensed or certified by the state substance abuse agency.  According to the report for 2005, the number of patients that dropped out of all types of treatment without completing them was 24 %.  Another 24% of patients had their treatment terminated or failed to finish because of incarceration or other reasons. 

In 2005, it is reported that 44% of patients completed treatment, although it is hard to say whether or not the treatment was successful in the long run.  It is common for addicts to revert back to their old lifestyle if their treatment was not effective.  Some states have begun mandating better recording practices by rehab facilities in order to more successfully treat substance abuse.

Recovery Works

Recovery has been described as "...the establishment of a fulfilling and meaningful life and a positive sense of identity founded on hopefulness and self determination." The model of recovery and the related measures reflect the tenets of the positive psychology by focusing on building an authentic and fulfilling life, regardless of ongoing symptoms or treatment.

Scientists believe the stage model of psychological recovery comprises four psychological processes occurring over five stages. The psychological processes of recovery were derived from the experiential accounts of many consumers.

The four processes are:

Hope                    -  finding and maintaining hope for recovery and a better future;
Responsibility     -  taking responsibility for wellness and control of life generally:
Identity                -  establishing a positive identity, and
Meaning              -  finding meaning and purpose in life.

The five stages of recovery are briefly described as:

Moratorium       -  A stage of hopelessness and self-protective withdrawal.
Awareness         - The realization that recovery and a fulfilling life is possible.
Preparation       -  The search for personal resources and external sources of help.
Rebuilding         -  Taking positive steps towards meaningful goals.
Growth               -  A sense of control over one's life and looking forward to the future.

(Andresen, R., Oades, L., and Caputi, P. 2003. The experience of recovery from schizophrenia: towards an empirically-validated stage model. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry)

As We Celebrate Recovery

Of course, celebrating the victories of recovery is bittersweet, full of touching memories of help and of disappointment. No addict is without memories of lost friends and companions -- those who fell and eventually succumbed to their illness. But, also, every recovering addict can relate important "moments" in the process of accepting the challenge of changing their existence. Listening to so many of these accounts gives insight to the problems of abuse.

Suffice it to say, recovering addicts have faced their most hideous demons and still operate with the understanding that they are susceptible to old cues and old deadly habits. Just like the person who quit smoking, drinking, or eating compulsively, the recovering addict must maintain strict regimens to insure relapse. This is where community is so important. Community support will help insure success. Loving community support will help sustain fruitful lives, one by one.

Look again at the four processes of recovery. Consider drug abuse as a disease and a risk that runs high with mental illness and environmental instability. Who among us could possibly discover hope, take responsibility, establish meaningful identity, and find purpose without help? I know I could not. Recovery is in need of your attention and your resources. Building recovery pays huge dividends for all.

One last thought -- please celebrate recovery. Support efforts for recovery. Give a little time, money, or effort to recovery.

Please do this. Consider your child, spouse, relative, or friend as the only one that recovery saved. I don't care if that life was spared through needle exchange, suboxone, naloxone, methadone, detox, Jesus, counseling, family, or cold turkey. Your loved one is STILL ALIVE -- DELIVERED AND RECLAIMED.

NOW, SHOUT IT OUT -- "GOD BLESS RECOVERY!" Please, don't deny the needy the hope that so desperately seek. The alternative is to loose and we all will loose without recovery.

Hope by Emily Bronte
Hope was but a timid friend;
She sat without the grated den,
Watching how my fate would tend,
Even as selfish-hearted men.

She was cruel in her fear;
Through the bars, one dreary day,
I looked out to see her there,
And she turned her face away!

Like a false guard, false watch keeping,
Still, in strife, she whispered peace;
She would sing while I was weeping;
If I listened, she would cease.

False she was, and unrelenting;
When my last joys strewed the ground,
Even Sorrow saw, repenting,
Those sad relics scattered round;

Hope, whose whisper would have given
Balm to all my frenzied pain,
Stretched her wings, and soared to heaven,
Went, and ne'er returned again! 
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