The Roots of International Recovery Day

I am a Face & Voice of Recovery

John Winslow, the founder of International Recovery Day and a strong advocate in the recovery community, is also a man in long-term recovery. To John that means that he has not found it necessary to use alcohol or other drugs since January 1976. At 26 years old, he found it impossible to believe that he needed treatment or assistance with his dependencies. However, suddenly faced with the threat of unemployment, John was placed on a waitlist for treatment and was due for intake in one month’s time. During that month John tested all his limits to see if he was in fact an “alcoholic and addict.” A week before he was due at check-in he was in a head-on collision while driving under the influence, having lost his sister 9 years earlier to a drunk driver, John had the epiphany he was looking for. “I asked myself what really happened… and that’s when I had my moment of truth, and I was ready when I checked into treatment with stitches still in my head. I was ready. It was time.”

Creating a Movement

In 2018, with no resources or capital, John had an idea. While there are 23 million Americans in long-term recovery, it’s important to recognize that our planet is home to 194 other nations. Have you ever wondered about the narratives, aspirations, and ambitions that shape the lives of people in these diverse nations?

Recovery is for everyone. It is not for just one nationality, race, or creed. It is a journey for humanity. That is the core idea from which International Recovery Day stems. At its inception, the dream was to connect individuals and organizations worldwide to all pathways of recovery. We are all members of the human race, regardless of how we may choose to celebrate the recovery experience.

The Recovery Evolution

Through prayer and meditation, John came to the decision that there weren’t enough young counselors at the facilities he attended. Winslow decided that if he acquired the proper training, even if it did not become his career, he could still benefit himself and others in their journey to recovery. And he never looked back.

John mentioned how Don Coyhis, from White Bison, talks about the vision of a Spiderweb that runs throughout the world. That vision led to the concept that with modern technology, we are now able to connect with each other more than ever before. The recovery community now exists worldwide, and it is time to embrace that vision.

Shifting Focus: From Stigma to Advocacy

Since there was already an International Overdose Awareness week and a day that focused on the “ravages of addiction,” our aim is to close out the month and shift the focus to the positive aspects of recovery. End the month with hope worldwide.

Through the recovery month toolkit, people are empowered to do more themselves and become advocates for their loved ones and the community at large.  With resources to help guide, and current templates as steppingstones, everyone can be the advocate they would like to be, by adding their names to petitions or sending a letter to city hall with a request to light the sky purple. We all have the opportunity and ability to grow and support others to their full capacity.

To Infinity and Beyond…

The concept of illuminating the sky virtually through fireworks emerged as a means of commemorating and symbolizing individuals worldwide igniting their fireworks, as portrayed on two-dimensional maps. The intensity of the purple hue grows in tandem with the abundance of fireworks. This tradition originated in 2020 and has gained participation from nearly a quarter of countries across the globe!

International Recovery Day, and Recovery Month, continue to grow and expand through the efforts of Faces & Voices of Recovery. This year Faces & Voices, and Mobilize Recovery, are partnering up to encourage a Day of Service on September 30th. This example of hands-on giving back shows the world all that the recovery community is capable of giving. John Winslow felt this was an area that had been lacking in the movement. He loves seeing an evolution in this direction and hopes it will continue to do so in the future.

Where we go from here…

John’s goal was, and still is, to focus on the positive. Everyone sees the ravages and heartbreak of substance use in their homes, communities, and in the media, but we need to be the beacon of hope on all that recovery can be. There are many pathways to recovery, and we need to show support both on the home front and internationally to save as many lives as possible.

Faces & Voices of Recovery was founded by a group of recovery advocacy pioneers who believed in a world where the shame and stigma of addiction no longer exists. They believed in a world where a lifetime of recovery and wellness was within everyone’s reach. This vision is the cornerstone of the work we do every day.

Join your friends, neighbors, and business associates in supporting our mission to make long-term recovery possible for millions of Americans. Please consider a generous gift to help sustain our work in the coming years.

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