For twenty-two years, September has been celebrated throughout the U.S. as Recovery Month. The purpose of Recovery Month is to bring awareness and hope to people that long term recovery from addiction is possible. This past August 31st, September was proclaimed National Alcohol and Drug Addiction Recovery Month by President Obama.
Last year, I had the supreme honor of leading one of the many Recovery Month activities sponsored by the Maine Alliance for Addiction Recovery (MAAR). The gathering of hundreds of individuals from all walks of life in Augusta, Maine, proved to be quite memorable. Every age group was well-represented and the stories of redemption and recovery were truly awesome, inspiring and unforgettable.
Since I could not take any of the people I met home with me to New York, the next best takeaway for me was the sapphire blue commemorative tee-shirt I received. With huge, bold, standout letters in bright white, the shirt broadcasts, “THIS Is What Recovery Looks Like.”
Indeed, recovery looks quite ordinary to the naked eye. It looks like you, and me; really everyone and anyone we pass on the street. To the casual observer, we all look rather unremarkable in our humanity. Yet, to those who stood sentry on the firing line for any length of time, watching their loved one or colleague wrestle with addiction and has the tenacity to remain long enough to witness recovery blossom beyond its initial phase, the vision of their loved one transforms into something quite extraordinary.
As individuals in recovery and those of us in addiction advocacy roles walk through streets either deserted or flooded with people this September, with or without a MAAR tee-shirt, we should all remember that the capacity for addiction recovery is possible in everyone we meet. Any stranger passing by may actually be a real-life representation of the extraordinary in the ordinary; a true miracle of what recovery looks like.