Thrive held it’s first annual Recovery Day event *Recovery Stew and a Slew of Stories* . Invited participates, colleagues and community joined us for a feast of stew and bannock and to hear stories from individuals about their experiences of mental health and substance abuse issues who are now living in recovery. We see this as an opportunity to promote hope and raise awareness.
When we are presented with mental health and substance abuse issues in our media and popular culture, we tend to see the tragedy, despair and hopelessness that so often accompany the personal stories. Further, people suffering from addictions and mental health issues are often judged as having moral weakness. Even once they have found recovery, that stigma may continue. Recovering from an addiction is hard enough, but for many former substance abusers and mental health patients, dealing with society’s judgment makes recovery harder.
The recovery movement is aimed at keeping the focus on the fact that recovery works and on making life better for those still struggling. Recovery Day aims to put a face and a voice to those who have found the solution. By sharing these success stories, those who are still suffering can see that recovery is indeed possible. Their stories are important to the rest of us so we can stay hopeful and come to understand how recovery works.
In communities across Canada, in the United States and internationally, September has come to be recognized and proclaimed as a time to celebrate and promote mental health and addictions recovery. The movement originated with the US Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) 29 years ago to increase awareness and understanding of mental and substance use disorders and celebrate the people who recover. (See https://www.recoverymonth.gov/) In September 2012 a group in British Columbia held the first Recovery Day in Canada. This year, 28 Canadian communities are registered to hold Recovery Day events (http://www.facesandvoicesofrecovery.ca/cities/).
So what is this thing we call “Recovery”? SAMSHA offers this definition:
“A process of change through which individuals improve their health and wellness, live a self-directed life, and strive to reach their full potential.
SAMHSA has delineated four major dimensions that support a life in recovery:
Health – overcoming or managing one’s disease(s) or symptoms—for example, abstaining from use of alcohol, illicit drugs, and non-prescribed medications if one has an addiction problem and for everyone in recovery, making informed, healthy choices that support physical and emotional wellbeing.
Home – a stable and safe place to live.
Purpose – meaningful daily activities, such as a job, school, volunteerism, family caretaking, or creative endeavors, and the independence, income and resources to participate in society.
Community – relationships and social networks that provide support, friendship, love, and hope.
SAMSHA further provides ten guiding principles for recovery:
1. Recovery emerges from hope
2. Recovery is person-driven
3. Recovery occurs via many pathways
4. Recovery is holistic
5. Recovery is supported by peers and allies
6. Recovery is supported through relationships and social networks
7. Recovery is culturally-based and inﬂuenced
8. Recovery is supported by addressing trauma (trauma-informed)
9. Recovery involves individual, family, and community strengths and responsibility
10. Recovery is based on respect