It’s almost September, and in my work, that means one of my favorite months of the year is just around the corner — NATIONAL RECOVERY MONTH!
And this year, there is so much to celebrate!
Addiction recovery has come a long, long, looooong way since the world rang in the 21st Century in 2000, and what we know today vs. what we knew then about addiction and recovery is nothing short of WOW! WOW!! WOW!!!
Much of this new understanding is the result of advances in neuroscience and imaging technologies that now allow scientists and medical professionals to study the live human brain in action and over time.
1. Addiction has long been called a disease, but we now know the nature of this disease…
We now know addiction is a chronic, often relapsing brain disease.
The Addiction Project (NIDA, NIAAA, The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and HBO collaboration)
2. Relapse has long been viewed as the person’s fault, a character defect, a lack of will power – “they just didn’t want it badly enough” – but we now know that’s a big, fat lie!
We now know relapse is a “hallmark” of the brain disease of addiction
…primarily because of how the disease hijacks brain function, not understanding the power of addiction cravings and not treating the underlying risk factors that contributed to the development of the disease. An example of the latter is not treating co-occurring disorders (which is having an addiction and a mental illness – two brain function changers) at the same time. (In other words, co-occurring disorders require co-occurring treatment.)
Understanding Relapse (The Addiction Project)
Let’s Talk About Cravings (The Addiction Project)
Why Do Some People Become Addicted – (The Addiction Project)
3. If you’re not in a 12-step program, you’re not in Recovery
We now know there are many, many paths to recovery because recovery is personal.
Raising awareness there is no one-size-fits-all path to recovery is opening the doors of recovery to millions of people like never before – people who need help with tamping down the cravings while battling their triggers; or treating co-occurring disorders; or sorting out the impacts of childhood trauma and its early influence on their early brain wiring.
Working Definition of Recovery (SAMHSA)
Principles of Effective Treatment: A Research-Based Guide (Third Edition) (NIDA)
4. It’s long been assumed that once the person with addiction finds recovery, all is well for the family, too. We now know that’s impossible because the family has experienced their own physical and emotional health consequences as a result of secondhand drinking | secondhand drugging (SHD) and SHD’s chronic activation of the fight-or-flight stress response system.
We now know the family needs their own recovery
…and that in their recovery, the family member(s) is/are better able to help themselves, which in turn helps their loved one succeed in their own recovery or seek recovery if they haven’t thus far.
Family Disease (National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, Inc. [NCADD])
The Fight-or-Flight Stress Response – Secondhand Drinking Connection (Lisa Frederiksen, BreakingTheCycles.com)
5. Recovery is not just behind closed doors anymore. In fact, thousands – thousands! – of people are standing up to share their recovery stories.
We now know over 23 Million Americans are living their lives in RECOVERY!
UNITE to Face Addiction (huge grassroots rally on The Mall in Washington, D.C., 10.4.15)
These are exciting times – EXCITING times! Recovery is out of the closet, addiction is out of the closet, families are out of the closet. We are standing, we are shouting, we are proud to say, “Addiction Recovery is Real. It happens to real people. And it happens all the time!”
So please stand, join the shout and proudly spread these 5 things to know about Addiction – Recovery as part of your National Recovery Month 2015 celebration.
And if you can be anywhere near Washington, D.C. on 10.4.15, join the massive UNITE to Face Addiction Rally. Watch this short video and you’ll understand why. Hope to see you there!