Reflections on a Journey: Today is my 10-year sobriety birthday. Translated, that means, using conventional notions of sobriety and language consistent with 12-step programs, my last drink occurred on October 18, 2002. While the last 10 years have delivered to me a quality of life for which I am eternally grateful, it is not the purpose of today’s blog to describe this journey. Rather, I want to reflect on the relevance of these conventional notions in my life as a survivor of the primary, treatable and chronic disease of addiction.
Learn more about our work in our Affiliate communities, our national vision and other issues related to getting drug and alcohol addiction sufferers well.
I recently read an informative interview with A. Thomas McLellan, one of the nation’s leading scholars on addiction research and treatment, about the impact of health care reform. In the article, titled “Segregated No More,” McLellan talks about forces of change in the ACA for the field of addiction treatment.
Every September, the ONDCP partners with SAMHSA and a range of public and private sector organizations to celebrate National Recovery Month. I commend the ONDCP for highlighting recovery, and characterizing it as “health, wellness, a sense of purpose, and productive involvement with family and community.” Only through whole society transformation can we break through stigma and achieve a real solution to addiction.
I have a disease for which there is no cure. It is type II diabetes. I was “officially” diagnosed 12 years ago.
In today’s world of 24/7 information overload, it’s often difficult to find time to reflect, to put things into focus. I’m as guilty as anybody of obfuscating things that, at their core, are really quite simple. Let me take this opportunity to ask you for three minutes of solitude. I’m going to put on the head of a pin the world of health care, its reform and the inevitable resolution of our nation’s most challenging public health challenge. I know, sounds like a lot, but when I’m finished, I think you’ll agree. It’s all very simple and straightforward.
Outside of Face It TOGETHER® the term “addiction” is used quite casually. When reciting our Vision, I receive many responses of, “addiction to what?”
Imagination is the answer to solving addiction in this country. Before we can design and execute meaningful and lasting solutions, we have to be able to imagine a country in which addiction is understood and treated just like any other chronic disease. If we can imagine it, we can accomplish it.
I was recently listening to a speech by Muhammad Yunus, the oft-awarded fellow who invented microlending, when he said, “What separates transformational leaders from zealots or dreamers is actionable vision.” While I don’t know whether we qualify as transformational leaders, we certainly offer up an actionable vision.
There’s a good place for virtually all of the words we currently use to describe the treatable, chronic disease of addiction; a museum. WE NEED A NEW WORD!
I’ve been blessed once again this week with the opportunity to work with the family of a very sick young man in desperate need of help. I hope never to lose the sense of gratitude I have for such opportunities. At the same time, however, I am also reminded of how much is wrong with today’s system of dealing with addiction.