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. 


This year Denver Colorado was the city that held Faces & Voices of Recovery’s national hub event. It was also the 15th annual Rally hosted by Advocates for Recovery-Colorado (AFR-C). I am privileged to having attended all of them. In our present crisis, presentations featured words from those who understand the science of addiction and the value of medically assisted recovery (MAR) to save lives. It brings understanding and focus on Alcohol and Other Drugs (AOD) use disorders.  A remembrance wall and tree gave recognition to those who died from opiate overdose in the U.S. and Colorado. The wall was constructed of 420 prescription bottles, one for each 10 who died. Each carried a message. One said, to face addiction, we have to eliminate shame. Another said, Opiates don’t discriminate.

Andy: Remember Red, hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies.

Red: Hope is a dangerous thing my friend, it can kill a man.

–The Shawshank Redemption

In earlier blogs, we explored the curse of low recovery expectations expressed in policy, professional, and public contexts and how those who work in addiction treatment and other recovery support roles can counter addiction-related stigma in their public and professional interactions. The present blog addresses how those working in such roles can ignite hope among addicted people and their families who may themselves have internalized the socially and professionally pervasive pessimism about the prospects of long-term addiction recovery.

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)