5 Ways You Can Positively Impact the Future of Recovery in 2016
As we head into 2016, many are considering how best to make changes for the better, what they can do to improve themselves and the world around them. For people in recovery, this is an especially potent prospect. Having lived for a time with nothing but addiction as the focus, it can be exciting and healing to make choices that prioritize personal wellness and the betterment of the community.
In the United States, it is estimated that over 23 million people over the age of 18 are actively in recovery from drug or alcohol addiction. That adds up to about 10 percent of the population, a formidable number. How many more have had a loved one who is struggling, or has struggled, with substance abuse or addiction, or have lost someone to the disorder? Consider what could be accomplished if we all worked together in 2016 to positively impact the world of recovery, helping to spread awareness and connect people in need with treatment that will help them to heal.
Here are five ways you can contribute to positive change in your community in 2016
If you have ever lived with a drug or alcohol abuse problem, you may want nothing more than to keep the past in the past and avoid talking about it on any level. If discussing your history with substances is a potential trigger for relapse, then by all means, focus instead on the positive aspects of the present. If you are feeling strong and stable in your recovery, you could have a powerful impact on others by talking about what you have been through in addiction, how you connected with treatment, and your experience thus far in recovery. In addition to reaching people in active addiction who may not realize that treatment is a beacon of hope for them, you also benefit by:
• Claiming who you are
• Letting go of emotional issues related to addiction, including shame and guilt
• Cutting back on secrets in your life that can be harmful to your continued sobriety
• Increasing your full presence in positive relationships with others
If people you love lost their lives to addiction, you can channel your grief into something positive and effective by sharing their stories and yours. The loved ones of people in active addiction are just as deeply harmed by addiction as the person who drinks or gets high. The constant fear, anger, depression, and grief can be devastating to the ability to function in day-to-day life. Talking about your struggle can not only help you to process those feelings but also give you a positive outlet that will help other families to avoid the crisis that struck your home.
No matter how you went from active addiction to sobriety, your experience is powerful and can help someone else to find a path to balance in recovery. Working with a group or individual in recovery as a peer mentor – or peer counselor, recovery coach, recovery advocate, etc. – can provide a personal connection during someone’s recovery that can make a difference in avoiding relapse.
Additionally, being a peer mentor or counselor can be empowering to your own recovery as well, keeping you connected and reminding you just how far you’ve come.
There are thousands of nonprofit and government agencies in need of support to better serve the addiction and recovery community. Each one will have volunteer opportunities and ways you can give back, such as donating coats and hats to homeless people living in addiction, providing job skills training in your area of expertise to interested individuals, offering initial counseling and referral services, speaking at local schools or alumni recovery groups, and more. If you don’t see something that interests you in your area, consider your unique skillset and how you can best be of service. Propose your idea to a local nonprofit or agency, or start your own initiative.
The year 2016 is a big year at the polls, and candidates are talking about how best to deal with the many issues related to addiction, treatment, and associated legislation. You can have a big impact on how much funding is directed to addiction treatment measures, how sentencing guidelines for nonviolent drug offenders with addictions are updated, whether or not marijuana is legalized at the federal level or allowed to continue to be a question answered at the state level, and how healthcare and insurance continue to evolve to allow for greater access to treatment for those who need it.
Signing petitions, showing up to rallies, and joining in with the online conversation on different topics can all help to ensure that your views on those subjects are heard. But nothing beats showing up to the polls and speaking your mind with votes for the people who are working to make sure that Americans in need of treatment have access to comprehensive care and support.
What Will You Do in 2016 for Addiction Recovery?
How will you make a difference in the coming year in terms of community understanding of drug and alcohol use and dependence? What can you do to encourage neighbors and loved ones who are struggling with addiction to reach out for help? Leave a comment and share your plan for 2016.