At the end of the day, being in "recovery" or being "normal" is really the exact same thing -- we are finding positive ways to live a life that is full of happiness and meaning. Our daily rituals don't set us apart; they bring us closer together.
Recovery programs save lives, and more than just by keeping drugs and alcohol away. They protect recovery, sure, but they also give meaning and purpose for students like me... and without those, sobriety is but a transient event.
To include such a stigmatizing and shaming word in our conversations about substance use disorder is to continue to frame addiction as a moral failing on the part of an individual rather than a preventable and treatable health condition.
Although we know that a group of human beings large enough to nearly fill a Boeing 747 airplane die a sudden death every single day as a result of an overdose, it doesn't come with a fierce fiery explosion and dramatic loud bang ripe for the evening news.
Rather than wait for juvenile justice system involvement or a tragic, preventable early death, the time is now to expand community-based resources that can support young people in their recovery journeys.
I'm pretty convinced that if I had faced the same set of circumstances as a 15 year old black or brown boy in my city, the outcome would have been very much different. Sometimes the line between a "troubled" kid and a "bad" kid is as thin as skin color and accompanying culture.
When I think about compassion and its transformative power, I can't help but think of the abundance of compassion bubbling up out of the millions of people in long-term recovery from addiction challenges.
Recovery is exciting, empowering, and essential. The movement that's happening nationwide attracts more support every day. 2016 truly could be a turning point for the recovery movement as momentum builds from 2015 and our country turns its attention towards the next presidential election.
The arc of our family's story has been profoundly shaped by our decision to channel our energy in a positive way in order to help with our own healing, and to ensure that Jeff's death was not in vain and to help other families.
Most people in the United States sample alcohol and other addictive substances at some point during their lifetime. What separates the people who go on to develop addiction from those who don't are a series of variables that were not in their control.