We can be optimistic when faced with addiction. A nationally-representative study found that nearly 10% of Americans have overcome a problem with alcohol and drugs, which means that millions of individual recovery pathways have been carved, like footsteps in the snow.
But these pathways are often invisible. Social stigma has deprived us of the stories of addiction and recovery that are unfolding around us every day. As a result, we live (unnecessarily) in an ecosystem of ignorance about these common phenomena.
The Pittsburgh Recovery Walk celebrates all roads to recovery, which we know are as varied as the actual roads in Pittsburgh. Some are bumpy, some are steep, and some are less-traveled. All are cause for celebration. And the more we know about these roads, the more we can–individually and as a community–provide useful support to those who need help.
Pathways to Recovery Include…
What does a recovery pathway look like? Here are some of the elements it may contain:
- Inpatient treatment (often called “rehab”)
- Outpatient treatment
- Medications for substance use disorders
- Medications for mental health disorders
- Harm reduction strategies (e.g., help from a needle exchange or reducing your use)
- Social media posting (e.g., #recoveroutloud or the r/opiates subreddit)
- Mutual aid groups focused on addiction recovery (e.g., 12-step, Recovery Dharma, SMART Recovery)
- Faith-based institutions
- Peer recovery support services
- Getting your basic needs met (e.g., housing, healthcare, safety)
- Personal changes like a new job, living situation, group of friends, etc.
- Smartphone apps
- Problem-solving courts (e.g., drug court, mental health court, veterans court)
- Individual therapy
- Pets (!!!!)
- Recovery Community Organizations (like Message Carriers and Lost Dreams Awakening in the Pittsburgh area)
- Creative expression
- Recovery housing (sometimes called “halfway” or “three-quarter way houses”)
- Focusing on health, as you define it
- Giving back to your community
The point is: there is no single recovery pathway, just as there is no single recovery destination. All are worthy of celebration. All have something to teach us.