Change happens. Sometimes it’s rapid. Sometimes it’s so slow you wonder if it’s ever going to really change. One such “is it ever going to really change” movements is the Women’s Rights Movement.
In my “before,” I studied the Women’s Rights Movement and wrote two biographies, one on Elizabeth Cady Stanton and one on Susan B. Anthony, and spent a number of years giving lectures nationally on this Movement (1848 to 2008). So you can imagine how excited I was to see their statute on display in the Capitol’s Rotunda, Friday. It’s because of women like Stanton, Lucretia Mott (the third bust on this statute) and Anthony, and the hundreds of thousands and eventually millions more [and let's not forget the men who joined them - think about it - only men could vote when the 19th Amendment was ratified] over this 160+ year period who worked so hard – joining marches, writing letters, giving lectures, pushing the societal stereotypes, working on voting rights campaigns, holding rallies, lobbying legislators and so, so much more – that my daughter is able to graduate from law school today and my other daughter was able to graduate as a marine biologist. This movement (like others, of course) is a powerful reminder that it takes thousands – hundreds of thousands and eventually millions – the majority of whom will never be “known” – doing whatever they can and are comfortable doing to affect real change.
So I ask you to…
Join the Addiction Recovery Movement
Just as with the Women’s Rights Movement, there have been hundreds of sung and unsung heroes who started and followed and supported and worked in the long history of the addiction recovery movement. [To learn about this history, I recommend William L. White's book, Slaying the Dragon: The History of Addition Treatment and Recovery in America.] And just like the women’s rights movement, there are hundreds of thousands and now millions more who are doing whatever they can to carry the torch.
And WE can do this!
Just as a person with the brain disease of addiction or a substance use disorder negatively touches the lives of 5 more people (family members and close friends, for example), so too can WE – the people in support of the Addiction Recovery Movement – positively touch the lives of 5 or more people for the good. And through our efforts, our WE grows.
And that’s the beauty of joining a movement. You can do a lot or a little; you can be vocal or behind the scenes; you can touch one or you can touch hundreds; you can do something once or on a daily basis; but whatever you chose or are comfortable doing, your “something” adds to the WE, and it’s the WE that will eventually shatter the stigma, misinformation and shame that have shrouded all-things addiction for far too long.
Here are a few suggestions you might try to help grow the WE in the Addiction Recovery Movement:
Talk Matter-of-Factly and Openly About the Facts of the Brain Disease of Addiction
Thanks to the relatively recent brain and addiction-related research, we now understand how and why it is a brain disease, why relapse can be common for some and what effective addiction treatment looks like. As you become familiar with this research (or perhaps you already know it), talking about addiction as the brain disease it is (the same way we talk about other organ diseases) can go a long ways to shattering some of the stigma and shame that keeps us so stuck. Here are a few posts that may help:
Do Something, Anything
Just as with the fact there is no one, nor right way to “do” addiction recovery, so too is their no one, nor right way to “do” addiction recovery advocacy. We can vote for candidates who understand and support recovery, we can join walks and rallies for recovery, we can take actions in our workplaces, schools and communities, we can celebrate National Prevention Week, Alcohol Awareness Month, Recovery Month, Children of Alcoholic’s Week… or any of the other movements and causes behind the key risk factors or outcomes, Mental Health Month, Suicide Prevention Month, Domestic Violence Awareness Month….
For an umbrella resource for the Addiction Recovery Movement, check out Faces & Voices of Recovery, founded in 2001.
And check out ManyFaces1Voice & The Anonymous People Film for some amazing inspiration. Here’s the trailer to introduce you to the film if you’ve not already seen it.
Support the Family Members in Sharing Their Stories and in Their Secondhand Drinking | Secondhand Drugging Recoveries
We’ve long talked about the family members and close friends of those struggling with the disease as codependents and enablers. Consider changing the term to Secondhand Drinking or Secondhand Drugging – either way, however, the impacts on the family are the same, and they have their own stories and experiences to share and tell. For more on these impacts, check out Fight-or-Flight Stress Response System and the Secondhand Drinking (Drugging) Connection.
Consider Following or Getting Involved with the Work of Others Who’ve Long Been Active in the Recovery Movement
Here are a few of my close friends and colleagues also working in this area – check out their websites and blogs – so much wisdom and expertise shared…
- Kevin Kirby, Co-founder of Face It TOGETHER, a team of social entrepreneurs who reject the status quo and bring a revolutionary, meaningful, and sustainable solution to our nation’s top public health crisis, addiction.
- Cathy Taughinbaugh, Parent Recovery Coach and author of the blog, TreatmentTalk at CathyTaughinbaugh.com
- Dr. Herby Bell, Recovery and Wellness Coach, blogger and host of Sober Conversations at RecoveryHealthCare.me
- Kyczy Hawk, Author of Yoga and the 12 Step Path and yoga instructor at YogaRecovery.com
- Tim Cheney and Adrian Hooper, long-time Recovery Advocates and Co-Founders of Chooper’sGuide.com, a comprehensive addiction treatment and recovery resource directory.
- Jody Lamb, Author of Easter Ann Peters’ Operation Cool (a book for young adults living in families with alcohol misuse) and blogger at JodyLamb.com
- Beth Wilson, in long-term recovery and sharing her courage, strength and hope through her website and blog, BHereToday.com
- Bill White, MS, LLPC, blogger, Coach and Mentor specializing in Depression, Anxiety or Mania at Chipur.com
- Leslie Ferris, Certified Professional Coach working with parents of struggling tweens, teens & young adults at Phase 2 For You
Take a Break, Take a Rest but Please Don’t Quit – We’ve a Lot of Work To Do…
Boy, I’ve had my days to be sure, but then I think of Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott and the millions of women and men who did their part, however big or small and in whatever capacity they were comfortable taking action, to completely change the lives of women.
And like the Women’s Rights Movement (and other courageous movements), it will take time, but all of us working together will completely change the face of addiction and the lives of those who have this brain disease and those who love, live and cope with persons who do.
We’ve a lot of work to do…millions of lives and the quality of life for tens of millions more depend on us, the WE.