Last week, I listened to one of our presidential candidates outline a ‘five point plan’ for addressing the nation’s opioid and heroin epidemic. The plan entailed:
1. Reforming the criminal justice system to move people with addiction from denial into treatment — rather than into jails.
2. Building greater treatment capacity to increase the number of people who can access help and also reduce the waiting time.
3. Distributing rescue kits widely to be immediately responsive to those who overdose.
4. Utilizing a national database tracking prescriptions to stop doctors and patients from over-dispensing.
5. Changing attitudes to get rid of the stigma of addiction through nationwide prevention and education programs.
I absolutely agree with all the points above. However, glaringly absent, from this list is a point focused on supporting long-term recovery. In my opinion, supporting long-term recovery is essential for a truly comprehensive and affective plan.
Today the addiction recovery treatment model typically includes intervention, detox and immediate stabilization — all within a limited time frame. This of course does not speak to the punitive model which criminalizes people for their addictions and sentences them to jail.
Recognizing addiction as a brain disease, with a chronic nature, we can better anticipate and respond (as a family, community, healthcare system and as a nation) — to the lifelong, unique complexities facing those who seek to maintain recovery. That is if we seek to help people restore their health and (re) build productive lives — rather than focus on delivering post-crisis-interventions via short term therapeutic treatments or jail.
One of our key goals at COR is to introduce ‘open recovery’ in the San Francisco Bay Area. We seek to change people’s understanding of and beliefs about addiction and recovery.
Inviting people in recovery, and those whose lives have been impacted by addiction, to share their stories, experiences, and solutions will help reach those who are still suffering and educate those who are unaware — this drives change, cultivates compassion and creates environments that are more supportive of long-term recovery.
An ‘open recovery’ can move addiction (and recovery) out of the shadows of shame and isolation and into the light of support, access to resources, and more options.
We need not wait for our next president to make recovery a national priority.
So where do we begin?
We all know there are ‘walks for the cure,’ pink ribbons or yellow bracelets to wear, ice-bucket challenges to film, pride parades to march, and marathon bike rides to cycle — all in the name of eradicating disease, eliminating intolerance, and making a personal difference. Yet, why are there no such widely promoted, health-oriented activities that invite the broader community to recognize, support and celebrate recovery from addiction?
Its time we changed that. And what better place or time, than here and now?
Let’s come together in a spirited way to demonstrate our commitment to long-term recovery and remind the nation once again that San Francisco is the birth-place of progress and change; where courage and truth are lived as values; where barriers are overcome.
On May 1st, COR is hosting the Road to Recovery 5K -at Crissy Field in San Francisco. The first event of its kind in the Bay Area, we invite you to register to run the 5K or walk the scenic course by the bay, do yoga on the grass, dance to live music, leave your artistic mark, hear and share inspiration, enjoy local organic coffees, juices and ice cream; meet friends and come together as a community to celebrate life in recovery.
However you vote, come November – let’s make sure recovery is on the nation’s agenda.
Our first step together can be taken at the Road to Recovery. Hope to see you on May 1st.
Join our sponsors and partners who are helping make this vision real.
For volunteer and sponsorship information, please click here.