THE BLOG
01/26/2016 02:43 pm ET Updated Jan 22, 2017

Recover Out Loud

"Recover Out Loud."

I fell in love with this term the moment I read it. Empowering, bold, unabashed, courageous, unapologetic and, by all means, absolutely necessary are just some of the words that come to mind when considering what it means to "recover out loud." As somebody who has long felt called to be out of the closet about being gay, gender non-conforming, having experienced mental illness and other life challenges, recovering out loud has always made sense to me. If I have been out of the closet about all of these other components that make up who I am, why should I hide the most prized piece of all - my recovery from a substance use disorder?

We Need To Tell Our Story

In a world where the predominant undercurrent of life seems to guide us toward a predetermined fate, recovery tells the story of a heroic quantum leap into destiny instead. The story of recovery is really a story about what it means to be human and to overcome. Our personal stories contain universal experiences, challenges, triumphs and truths that have much to offer the world-at-large, yet for far too long the world hasn't been able to hear them. For those of us inside of the recovery community, we know the beauty and miracles of recovery. We share with one another the ill fates that our life's experiences and substance misuse had combined to point us toward, and then we share where recovery has brought us instead. We KNOW that recovery is possible, that individuals and families struggling with a substance use disorder are not bad people, morally flawed or failures. We have seen that many seemingly insurmountable challenges encountered in life can be overcome. And most importantly, we also share with one another the many, many solutions to overcoming addiction. It's time we let the world-at-large know all of these things as well.

Recovering out loud isn't about narcissism, an ego-trip or lack of humility. It isn't about "look at how amazing I am" or "how strong I am" or a brag fest about all of our accomplishments. We really don't do this to be self-serving at all, and it's really not about us. It is instead one of the most selfless acts we can perform in order to give others hope. To open ourselves up to all of the vulnerabilities surrounding self-disclosure takes courage. To allow the world in to see our dark shadows takes bravery. To hold ourselves up to the lens of other people's judgments, opinions, biases and beliefs takes grit. Recovering out loud takes guts.

Recovering Out Loud Is Necessary

With 350 people dying every single day and addiction affecting 1/3 of American households, it is necessary that we find the fearlessness to step out of the shadows and onto the bigger stage. Service work is often seen as a staple of our personal recovery journeys, and it's important now to consider that service work has layers to it. We can be in service to other individuals, in service to small groups, in service to larger groups and then in service to our greater communities and the world around us. With addiction being a macro level, big time problem that is affecting our communities and the world around us, we need a macro level, big time service response from the recovery community. While that response will have to be complex and multi-faceted, there is one simple action that every single person in recovery can take to be in service at this larger level: recover out loud.