Last week the White House held a panel highlighting young people in recovery and discussing removing the stigma surrounding those who have struggled with addiction. How else can we raise awareness for this issue?
Discussing Recovery at the White House
On the evening of September 19th, the White House held a panel of 4 young people in long-term recovery, hosted by the Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, Michael Botticelli. The panel was composed of 2 young men and 2 young women who openly shared inspiring stories of their own recovery in the hopes of disbanding many of the misconceptions about what recovery and addiction actually looks like in America today. The panelists also spoke to the community of young people in recovery and fielded questions about their experiences.
Placing Recovery First
There were a variety of topics discussed in the panel – everything from college in recovery, employment, community and the fear of being held back from the expected trajectory of a successful young person’s life. The panelists placed a lot of importance on putting their recovery first and recognizing that without treating their disease, all of their other hopes and dreams weren’t possible anyways. The panelists talked about the idea of taking a temporary detour from careers and educations, and why this decision set them up for success in the long term.
Participating with Principles
There was also discussion about the importance of service, integrity and the other principles that young people learn in recovery. The panelists talked about how they have been able to apply these principles to their busy, full lives, doing things like working and going to school in Washington D.C., having families and participating in society. The overwhelming message was that it is not only possible to manage your recovery program within a rich, full life, but that recovery was what allowed that life to be possible.
Judgments and Stigmas
Throughout the panel, questions continued to circle back to the issue of judgments surrounding individuals in recovery or struggling with active addiction. The panelists all agreed that awareness was key to combating this problem. So how do we continue to raise awareness on this issue and remove the stigma surrounding getting and staying sober?
One way that we can continue to do this is by having more events in the public eye about addiction that highlight not just the problem, but the success stories as well. So often the problems surrounding addiction are focused on in the media, which is important as a deterrent, but we also need to address the already existing problem by making young people aware that there is a solution. We can also continue to promote recovery in areas that young people frequent through forums that feature other young people who have been successful in their recovery. Bringing hope into high schools, colleges and talking about recovery on an open public level are all important.
Moving in the Right Direction
The White House panel is definitely a big step in the right direction! Removing the stigma from addiction will make it possible for more young people to find their way into recovery, and as the movement grows, it will become increasingly more accessible to those in need. Have you had any experience with stigmas surrounding you or a loved one’s addiction or recovery?