Speaking Out

There has been a sea change in the way Americans believe policy makers should be addressing addiction issues.* They want to see changes in laws, policies and attitudes so that addiction is treated as a health issue — not a law enforcement one. They want prevention, education, treatment and recovery programs to be supported.

We salute the growing numbers of people in recovery and their family members who are combining forces to tell their stories of renewal and hope. By raising their varied voices, they are demonstrating that we look like America.

The voices of families tell the bigger story of addiction. When families come together, there can be even a greater pay off in recovery support and political voice. One example is Tracey Lee-Cohen who, with her mother Nancy and her son Bill, movingly testified as a family before the California legislature. Now Tracey chairs Recovery Advocates for Treatment in California. They have experienced and shared the power of families telling stories of hope together.

Lifting the veil of silence about a family member’s addiction helps deal with the social stigma these families experience. It can be a long road to educating oneself and others, and family groups are flourishing around the country as people come together in mutual support.

The personal stories that growing numbers of families are sharing with health care professionals, policy makers, clergy, friends and neighbors has heightened awareness that this stigma still exists, even for people who have successfully sustained long-term recovery. In focus groups in Connecticut, New York and Massachusetts, people said they felt very strongly that community education that is focused on the family experience of addiction and recovery would have diminished their own difficulties with these experiences.

Across the country, people in recovery, family members, friends and allies are coming together, speaking out and organizing.  They are letting people know about the pain that addiction to alcohol and other drugs can bring to families and the hope that recovery offers. They are giving permission to others to speak out as our country moves forward to achieve a just response to addiction.

*According to research by Peter D Hart Research Associates and Coldwater Corporation for Faces and Voices of Recovery.

This article was provided by NACOA, the National Association for Children of Alcoholics. Visit their website at http://www.nacoa.org.

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