I’ve had the pleasure of working with Young People in Recovery (YPR) and getting to know several young people who not only live successful recovery lives, but also dedicate much of their time to advocating for recovery. This month’s Recovery Carrier epitomizes the meaning of both. Only 26 years old, Robert Ashford has poise, determination and a singular vision envied by people twice his age.
This is the 10th post in this Recovery Carrier series.
William White defines recovery carriers as “people, usually in recovery, who make recovery infectious to those around them by their openness about their recovery experiences, their quality of life and character, and the compassion they exhibit for those still suffering.” (www.williamwhitepapers.com, 2012)
Before we talk about recovery advocacy and recovery carriers, let’s talk a bit about the current recovery movement and what it looks like to you.
I believe this is actually the third recovery movement. If you look at history, there was something missing in the first two and is the reason why those movements died out (described in detail in the documentary The Anonymous People).
The first two movements were not grassroots—this one is—and the first two didn’t have young people. Having young people as a part of the movement and getting more young people engaged, the movement will sustain itself. Guys like me can still be involved 50 years from now, but we need young people continuing to show young people that recovery is a good thing.
Not only are young people creating sustainability because we’re going to be around longer but we’re allowing people to not spend 20 or 30 years in active use because they’re seeing people like themselves recover.
I think we’re in a perfect storm to finally get it right.
When you hear the term recovery carrier, what does that mean to you?
I think of a virus. If I have this thing, am I carrying it to other people? I think back to Day 57 of my recovery when I found out about Young People in Recovery (YPR), became empowered in my recovery and realized the importance of not only telling my recovery story but what that could do for others.
People have to know the message of recovery, that it’s not just abstinence. I’m a whole-hearted believer in all pathways to recovery. There are a lot of roads that lead to Rome. You just have to find the road for you. It doesn’t matter which road you pick.
Telling people—especially young people—that there are tons of different options, gives them hope because they don’t know that. Having addiction means you lose your humanity, which means you’ve lost your hope. Carrying the message of recovery means you’re giving young people hope again and helping restore their humanity. Or at least you’ve started the process.
Are you a recovery carrier?
Yes because somebody was for me. If I hadn’t become empowered by YPR, if I hadn’t gotten the message of recovery—what it meant and what it could be—then I wouldn’t be here today. It is as important as my 12-step program. I’ll say that flat out.
(To read more of Robert’s interview, click Robert Ashford 10-14.)
Photo courtesy of hotblack