Our recovery advocacy blog is produced by individuals in recovery!  Here you will find commentary and personal discussions on different aspects of addiction recovery and advocacy. 


Motherhood can be difficult and scary. There’s no handbook to it and the stress that comes with motherhood can be exhausting, overwhelming, and sometimes unbearable. You don’t know if you’re doing a good job, and frankly everyone is ready to give advice that you haven’t asked for. It’s a life changing event that can move you away from your friends and family, requires sleepless nights, and dazed days. For the average mom, this can be daunting so we can only imagine what it’s like for someone trying to juggle being a mom and maintaining their recovery from a substance use disorder.

A significant portion of people who resolve alcohol and other drug (AOD) problems do not embrace a recovery identity—do not see themselves as recovered, recovering, or in recovery. I first suggested this in Pathways from the Culture of Addiction to the Culture Recovery (1990) and later in a co-authored essay on the varieties of recovery experience (White & Kurtz, 2006), but had nothing but years of observation and anecdotal stories to support it. When I was asked about the prevalence of adoption or non-adoption of a recovery identity among people who had resolved AOD problems, no data were available to inform that question. Thanks to a just-published study by Dr. John Kelly and colleagues of the Recovery Research Institute, there is now data that addresses that and related questions.

September is National Recovery Month
Rallying FOR or Rallying AGAINST? Why it matters.

For decades, recovery advocates have come together at rallies across the nation and internationally to support a cause near and dear to our hearts, and personal for so many of us. Recovery from addiction is a cause for celebration and rallies are held to share our excitement and enthusiasm for the promise and hope that recovery provides. A public rally during National Recovery Month each September is a terrific display of support not only for the 1 in 10 adults in the U.S. who have overcome addiction but for the many individuals and organizations in the community who never give up on us [people recovering/ in recovery]. They keep our focus on the solution- to help more people find recovery.

One of the distinctive features of the recovery advocacy movement is its commitment to transcend the historical barriers that have separated people within the United States and across the world. I have been particularly moved by the growth of recovery community organizations around the globe. In the U.S., early RCOs within African American communities and within Indian Country were among the midwives of the new recovery advocacy movement. Since then, calls have increased to extend these efforts into Latino, Asian and other ethnic communities within the U.S. The following advocacy essay by Angelo Lagares and Gaynelle Gosselin is a reminder to us all of the import of such inclusiveness. I was very touched by their passion and their eloquence and wish to share their call to action with my readers. Bill

September is National Recovery Month and each year many of the recovering millions will stand up, stand out, speak out, and be proud of their recovery. Faces and Voices of Recovery annually designates a city for a national hub event. This year it is in Denver, Colorado. Advocates for Recovery-Colorado will hold a Rally for RecoverWe in Civic Center Park on September 15. It begins with assembly and registration at union station at 10 a.m.. Beginning at 11, all will walk down the 16th Street Mall to the park. The music, faces and voices of recovery, food and fun fills the afternoon. On a solemn note: This year’s rally features a Remembrance Tree for those lost to the substance use disorder we know as addiction.

In my blog of January 29, 2016, I reviewed recent research on remission and recovery from cannabis use disorders in the United States. I outlined the dependency-producing properties of cannabis and the nature and prevalence of cannabis dependence (1.6% of the U.S. general population and 18% of people entering addiction treatment in the U.S.). At that time, data on remission/recovery from cannabis use disorders (CUD) revealed six key findings:

Drug overdose deaths in the United States have risen exponentially due to sequenced drug surges: 1) prescription opioids, 2) heroin, 3) illicit fentanyl and related analogs, and 4) cocaine and methamphetamine—all used alone or in combination with other drugs. More than 66,000 American lives lost each year to drug overdose have sparked numerous initiatives ranging from increased naloxone availability and medically-supervised injection sites to expansion of addiction treatment resources. The personal stories behind overdose death statistics have helped stir public and professional alarm, but less attention has been given to the question, “What is the subsequent fate of the larger number of people who experience a non-fatal drug overdose?”

…a movement is afoot that is seeking to put recovery in the wind so that it can penetrate even the most shadowed corners of the richest and poorest communities. The faces and voices of the individuals and families riding this wind are offering a simple but powerful testimony: “We are the evidence that addiction recovery is both possible and sustainable. Hope and healing pushed the sickness and suffering out of our lives. We welcome you and will show you the paths that led to our deliverance…. Recovery is in the wind. Its season has begun. (White, 2013)

Stigma has many targets. It reaches beyond people addicted to various drugs to affect family members and those providing addiction treatment and recovery support services. Such secondary stigma, for example, is the source of the peculiar pecking order within the addictions field through which status (or stigma) is bestowed across varied settings based on one’s recovery status or lack of recovery experience. It also is the source of coded conversations between those working in the addictions field and members of the larger community. As a result, addiction professionals and recovery support specialists may find their legitimacy, their value, and even their sanity challenged by professional peers and by members of the larger culture. The ways in which we respond within such conversations can mark an appeasement (passivity in the face of insult or aggression) or a challenge to addiction-related stigma.

In the past, I have written about building the infrastructure for addiction-recovery support and about roads and bridges to recovery. I intended to write more on those subjects but I’m postponing that effort. In early America, our pioneers simply headed west where there were few roads and bridges. They were guided by the words and crude maps provided by those who had gone before. In 2001, a group met in St. Paul to revitalize and continue a campaign to show our faces and put our voices behind the fact and reality of recovery from addiction. Iowa governor and later senator, Harold Hughes, was an early advocate in bringing attention to alcoholism. He convinced many notable celebrities, politicians, and others to stand up and speak out in public gatherings, telling their stories. He was a guiding force as we developed our road maps to recovery. I recall the concluding words of Robert Frost from the poem, The Road Not Taken. Two roads diverged in a wood, and I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference. I would change one word in the poem, say we rather than I took the road less traveled. The road we had traveled and the journey of hopelessness was non-directional, filled with ruts, detours, and potholes. We faced barriers of progress because of stigma and discrimination. Our new road led to help, hope, and healing with a positive view that we could change America’s conversation and its experience with addiction. We left St. Paul with the charge to make some history. We did and we are.