That there are multiple pathways to recovery has been an axiom of the recovery community for years. This principle — that we do best when we support and encourage many approaches to recovery — goes hand-in-hand with the recognition that recovery is never a one-shot deal. Instead, it is a process that unfolds over time.
The multiple pathways avenue for addressing the broader problem of addiction has benefited millions worldwide but today is sometimes belittled or sidelined because it isn’t in lockstep with the “pill-for-every-problem” mindset that seems to dominate our culture. Unfortunately, that mindset has too often been adopted by some autocrats of addiction policy whose actions seem to reflect a belief that by merely increasing the number of MAT drugs we distribute we will somehow solve the larger drug problem.
So, it came as a breath of fresh air to attend the 2018 Multiple Pathways to Recovery Conference October 24 through 26. The conference, sponsored by the Connecticut Community for Addiction Recovery (CCAR) and the Center for Addiction Recovery Training (CART), brought together a range of professionals and groups at the cutting edge of the country’s burgeoning recovery movement.
It was clear from the first presentation that this is a group that works at the ground-level to address both the opioid crisis and the more general drug addiction problem. Many of the attendees and presenters were themselves in recovery, some for decades. Their life experiences, both during their addiction and in recovery, gives them an unflinchingly real understanding of the problems we face and what it takes to overcome it.
Long-time, well-known experts in the field such as William L. White and Don Coyhis provided high-level commentary on the recovery movement while other presenters such as Denise Thomas Brown and Chris Budnick filled in fascinating historical context and fleshed out day-to-day details.
The conference revealed a picture of the recovery movement I hadn’t seen before — one I came to believe will have a growing and important impact not only on how we address addiction but also on society as a whole. And despite how catastrophic the opioid crisis is (and we shouldn’t limit our discussions to only opioids as other drugs are also ruining and taking far too many lives), I came away from the conference hopeful.
That hope was founded in my reinforced recognition of the power inherent in the concept and practice of supporting many pathways to recovery. Without minimizing the tragedy experienced by families who have lost loved ones or communities devastated by drug abuse, we can take some comfort in knowing that many are finding their way to reinvigorated lives through recovery.
Education and training programs such as those offered by CCAR are spreading the gospel of recovery to families and communities who want to leverage its power.
This envisioned, growing importance of the recovery movement was a primary theme of, and was crystalized for me in William White’s talk. He foresees the recovery community growing to the point of developing an economic identify of its own and wielding its influence to shape national policy decisions.
The conference also confirmed my conviction that even though risk mitigation is important, it would be a mistake to believe that by itself it can turn the tide on our crisis. There is so much more that must be addressed beyond risk mitigation.
To get a good view of recovery as it exists today, what it will take to make a difference nationally and the successes that can be achieved, I can’t think of a better place to start than to sign up for and attend next year’s Multiple Pathways to Recovery Conference.