Over the past couple years I have written about addiction and recovery because I wanted to expose the truth about it and somehow make a difference in the way that society views those in active recovery and also active addiction. These are good people, these are your neighbors, maybe even your family members. People in recovery are some of the most amazing people that you can ever meet, they show up. Since I started working at the VA (over 3 years ago) you could prob count on one hand the amount of times that I called out of work. Why? Because my job was part of my recovery plan, I needed it as much as it needed me. Yesterday I was telling somebody that I feel my strongest when I was around other veterans, and in early recovery that was the reason that I got up before sunrise to walk a mile to the bus stop – 5 days per week – rain or shine. I didn’t take days off because I knew that my addiction was patiently waiting for that moment of weakness to bring my world crashing down around me. I’m happy to say that it’s still waiting, all because I built up my resilience to avoid those things that it needs to enter my life. This post isn’t about me, it’s about society and it’s faulty belief that we can’t recover to live normal lives, I’m not exceptional, I’m not stronger or faster, definitely not smarter than the next person but what I do possess is a determination to change the way the world views us. Have I been weighed, measured and found wanting by society? Absolutely, has it stopped me from achieving things they said would never happen? Absolutely, and I’m not the only person in recovery that’s doing amazing things, I’ve watched friends grow and do things beyond their wildest dreams, I’ve watched parents that lost a child stand up to advocate for others. All because they faced their fears from a society that said ‘you can’t do that’ and they said ‘watch me.’ The media doesn’t want to show the beauty of recovery so it paints the ugliness of addiction. We’ve experienced a surge of overdoses in our area, mostly young people, and the media would like for you to believe these were hopeless cases, maybe even call them addicts or junkies, outcasts. Case closed? The truth is much more complex, these weren’t kids running the streets, these were kids experimenting with alcohol and drugs, high schoolers, college students. Kids with a future that didn’t deserve to have their lives cut short because somebody gave them a fentanyl laced pill. They were family members, sons, daughters, friends, community members, church goers, coworkers…but the media won’t portray that because it doesn’t fit the narrative that anybody that uses illicit drugs or drinks excessively is expendable. I disagree, and I refuse to sit idle while society is being blinded by the truth that these lives could have been saved, why don’t we have stronger support inthe schools/colleges? Why do we have first responders that aren’t authorized to carry narcan? Why do insurance companies only authorize 30 days (or less) treatment?
Why does government still believe that we can incarcerate people to sobriety? 60% of the people in prison are in there for drug related offenses, so we throw them in prison and keep building bigger prisons when it would be better to build treatment centers that could actually stop the recidivism sooner than later. Why do we continue to punish those that served time for a drug related charge by putting it on a background report that will stop them from getting a decent job years later? Has our debt to society not been paid?? We can pump billions into vaccines that may or may not work against a virus but we can’t do the same to change the lives of the people that we represent??? The people we choose to represent us have the power to address these issues but talking about it is taboo that might not get them re-elected, how about we stand our ground and tell them they will talk about it starting now or they will be looking for a new job next election. We have always had the power to change leadership but how many of us are willing to stand our ground and lead the way to make it happen? I’m asking nicely and hope this message gets a response because I do vote.
JR Weaver ‘Army Veteran in Recovery’