Recovery Movement Needs a HUGE Megaphone!

file0001719225336My sweetie and I are just back from Austin, Texas, site of the Big Texas Rally for Recovery on Saturday preceded by a showing of The Anonymous People at the University of Texas School of Social Work on Friday night.

While chatting with TAP’s filmmaker, Greg Williams, and several other people in recovery, we heard there might be 500 people on the south side of the Capitol building Saturday afternoon. Cool, we thought, the rain will clear out by then and we will rock this place!

Well, the rain didn’t clear and to say there were a few hundred people huddled under umbrellas would be generous. But, as more than one person said, “The rain didn’t stop us when our addictions were active so why would the rain stop us now that we’re in recovery?”

Speaking out for recovery

Standing in the rain, watching the crowd, seeing some celebrities (Yes, I did get a hug from former Miss USA and recovery advocate Tara Conner!), I felt affirmed one more time that I’m in the right place at the right time.

Every time I get a chance to tell someone I’m in long-term recovery from addiction, that I haven’t had any alcohol or marijuana since May of 1991, and then explain specifically why my life in recovery is so good, I’m speaking out for the whole of recovery.

In fact, my sweetie and I had a nice explanatory chat with a photographer from The Austin American Statesman. A nice guy who may think just a bit BsCelebrateRecoveryinTX2014differently about addiction and recovery, and who might even pass along a slice of what he learned to his circle of friends.

Speaking out for recovery is everything from our chat with the photog (or with your doctor, insurance agent or neighbor) to Tara’s interview Saturday morning on Austin’s KXAN TV.

Speaking out for recovery means telling your state and federal legislators how addiction deserves the same treatment opportunities as any other disease. It means letting them know that jailing someone with addiction isn’t the answer to helping him or her get well but that a recovery oriented system of care is the most critical option for success.

We honor ourselves when we speak out for recovery. We show the world that recovery matters because it brings hope and peace into the lives of individuals and their loved ones.

The missing megaphone

The rain doused the ability for speakers to use a microphone at Saturday’s rally. Instead, they did their best to shout at the crowd. Sadly, much of the effect was lost except for those standing nearest the steps.

I was struck by the symbolism of standing on the Capitol steps–where laws affecting addiction recovery in Texas are debated–yelling to be heard. In the 15 or so years since the New Recovery Advocacy Movement began, many, many advocates have felt the frustration of not being heard.

We need a megaphone, folks, both literally and figuratively. Too many people–elected and others–don’t hear us. Our messages are not resonating deeply enough to make an overhauling change in the system.

Yes, we’re making progress, but the movement is too slow. One hundred Americans dies of a drug overdose every day, more than double the number in 1999. “Overdosing  is now the leading cause of accidental death in the United States, accounting for more deaths than traffic fatalities or gun homicides and suicides,” the Washington Post reported shortly after Philip Seymour Hoffman’s death earlier this year.

I don’t know what it will take for the Recovery Movement to get the attention it deserves, attention that AIDs/HIV, cancer and other causes get. But I do know we have to keep shouting. We have to use our personal megaphones whenever possible.

September is National Recovery Month. Are you using your megaphone?

Photos courtesy of xenia and Jay Janner of The Austin American Statesman

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