Connections Corner September 2016 – Region 3 Recovery Leaders
During the month of September we celebrate recovery and focus on the many activities that take place in our communities to honor those in recovery. As a part of this celebration, the ATTC would like to acknowledge the individuals who work all year to ensure that recovery is front and center in policy and practice at the State level. Thank you Patty, Holly, Brandee, Bill, Becky, and Matt for the work that you do and for sharing your thoughts on recovery with all of our readers.
Patty McCarthy Metcalf, Executive Director, Faces & Voices of Recovery
The recovery movement is about having a voice for people in recovery at all levels. This includes meaningful representation in decision-making and service delivery as well. Peer leaders in Maryland have been amazing examples of highly skilled ambassadors of the recovery movement. Maryland is a model to strive for across the nation and beyond; where people in recovery live purposeful lives in their communities, helping others while keeping their recovery first. Every day across the nation 23 million individuals and families are living life in recovery. That’s certainly something to celebrate during Recovery Month and every day of the year.
Delaware: Holly Dixon, Delaware Peer Services Director
“Recovery” implies regaining something once lost or moving away/forward from something that is perceived as abnormal or negative in some way. I would rather look at my experience as one of growth and discovery, of who I am and who I want to be as a human being. My lived experience has prepared me for my purpose.
Maryland: Brandee Izquierdo-Johnson, Director, Office of Consumer Affairs, MD DHMH
Recovery is an ongoing process that creates an internal change. It has become a point of freedom that has afforded me the opportunity to give back to communities by sharing my lived experience of trials, tribulations, and triumphs. As a person in long-term recovery, I have discovered my full potential and have been able to enhance the voice of recipients of behavioral health services by promoting and facilitating meaningful participation in all aspects of the public behavioral health system. Sharing my personal story combined with public service work has given me the inner strength and determination needed to support those seeking wellness and recovery.
Recovery Month 2016 is here! It will be a busy month in Pennsylvania in the state wide recovery community. We have a calendar of more than 50 events occurring across the state of Pennsylvania. The recovery month edition of our newsletter, Quarterly Report, has an extensive list of events around the state as part of Recovery Month. Event highlights include the Courage to Change Rally on September 20th in our state capitol rotunda and is focused on bringing people from around the state together to share recovery with our elected officials. The Our Lives Matter Quilt Project, which honors the lives of lost from substance use, will be displayed in the rotunda that day as well. We are working with our Lt. Governor’s Office and the PA Board of Pardons on a project called Pathways to Pardons, and there will be a major announcement about this project in September. As part of a SAMHSA grant, we will show the month out with a historic collaborative Recovery Works! Summit on September 27th in Harrisburg. This summit, which is in partnership with the Pennsylvania Mental Health Consumers Association, will bring together leaders from the federal, state and regional levels to explore the value of persons with lived recovery experience to our service system workforce, with an emphasis on peer services.
A Personal Definition
Recapture, reclaim, retrieve . . . all action words that are synonyms with Recovery. For me, Recovery is action. We have come to use the word as if it is a noun that describes a person, place or thing. We say “do you have recovery?” or “are you in a place of recovery?” or “are you a recovery specialist?”
My hope is that we all remember that recovery is not a noun, it is instead a verb. It is an action verb. No matter what your stumbling block is (addiction, the voices you hear that overwhelm you, the depression that numbs you, or whatever) you can recover. You can take action so that the ups and downs don’t leave you dizzy and out of control and feeling trapped or hopeless.
I am a person who constantly explores the actions of recovery in my own life. Every single day I have to make sure I am doing recovery based actions. I learned how to recognize when I needed to take that action through my peer support class. I learned that my experience was shared by others through my therapy. I have used medication to help quiet the emotional chaos long enough to gain self-control. I learned that I had a powerful voice through being courageous enough to try a new way of doing things and a new way of seeing the world.
As a person in long-term recovery from Substance Use Disorders, recovery means transformation to me. The solution of recovery has enabled me to achieve the hopes and dreams I once had as a child but active substance use hindered my ability to achieve any of them. My family relationships have healed, I pay taxes, I own a home, I am a college graduate, I am a husband, a brother, and an uncle. My spiritual path has been fruitful through watching others pull themselves from the depths of despair to a new life I recovery. Watching the hopeless find hope never gets old. My recovery is the most important aspect of my life – without it, I would have nothing.