September is Recovery Month
By: Vicente Sanabria, Director, Community Engagement and Support and Liz Beach, Program Manager, Continuous Learning for Youth in Recovery
This year, LUK is joining the Recovery Month celebrations taking place throughout the United States and in many other countries. The Massachusetts Organization for Addiction Recovery, or MOAR, was one of the co-founders of this event 25 year ago. From a handful of states in 1990, Recovery Month is now recognized nationwide, and has reached into other countries and territories, such as Canada and the United Kingdom. That is what today’s Recovery Community is doing: letting individuals and their families know that Recovery, through its many doors, is possible.
Many changes have occurred between 1990 and today that have also changed the face of addiction. Within that span of twenty-five years our pharmaceutical companies have developed and aggressively marketed multiple products to manage pain, anxiety, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), and a host of other disorders. In the world of illegal drugs, the cost of a dose of heroin has gone from $20 per dose in 1990 to as low as $5 per dose in 2015. Additionally, the purity has increased tremendously to the point that using a needle is no longer the fastest way to get high, and thus removing some of heroin’s stigma. In a 2013 survey called Monitoring the Future, 11.3% of high school students have tried synthetic marijuana like spice. "Spice" refers to a wide variety of herbal mixtures that produce experiences similar to marijuana (cannabis) and that are marketed as "safe," legal alternatives to that drug. Sold under many names, including K2, fake weed, Yucatan Fire, Skunk, Moon Rocks, and others — labeled "not for human consumption" — these products contain dried, shredded plant material and chemical additives that are responsible for their psychoactive (mind-altering) effects.
Additionally, some in the alcohol beverage industry have rolled out product after product to an audience that would buy caramel-flavored vodka or cotton candy-flavored rum. The changes of those three industries are just a few of what has happened in the twenty-five years that Recovery Month has been celebrated. Much of what these three industries have to do in order to increase their profit margins contribute significantly to the problems facing our communities.
There are many pathways that lead to addiction.
The other side of that coin is recovery. The word recovery comes from the Anglo-French-Norman recovrer which means “to get back.” Recovery is a return from a period of harm done to self and others. It is a return to full life and all that it represents. It’s a path “to get back” to a life left behind with its misery, pain, and delusion to one of honesty, positive relationships, and a healthier way of living.
Much of the funding that recovery programs receive comes from the Bureau of Substance Abuse Services, or BSAS. Sitting under the Department of Public Health, BSAS funds many prevention and treatment programs. They have been strong supporters of recovery in Massachusetts, even developing its tagline – “Prevent – Treat – Recovery…for Life” – to better reflect its mission and funding priorities. BSAS has been the main funder of Recovery High Schools, Peer Recovery Centers, and the funding of programs at agencies like LUK, which make supporting youth in recovery a priority. One such program is LUK’s Continuous Learning for Youth in Recovery or CLYR.
CLYR is an outreach treatment program for youth ages 12 to 19 who are recovering from substance abuse or dependence using two evidence-based models: The Adolescent Community Reinforcement Approach (ACRA) and the Assertive Continuing Care model (ACC). The CLYR recovery program will help youth experience understanding and support; strengthen their own motivation to stop or reduce the use of marijuana, alcohol, or other drugs; learn skills to manage problems that do not involve using drugs or alcohol; strengthen their refusal skills; strengthen their support network; be able to try out and engage in healthy activities; and strengthen their ability to identify high-risk situations. The most important outcome for a recovery program like CLYR is that youth can get back to their dreams, passions, and lives.
Recovery does work and there is no wrong door to recovery. Join LUK as we celebrate Recovery Month in MA on Monday September 21st at 9:00 a.m. at Boston’s City Hall Plaza for a walk up to the State House to celebrate the 25th Annual Recovery Month activities in MA.