Recovery is Contagious Redux



Those of you who have been reading my weekly blogs these past six months will recognize two simple and enduring themes: Recovery is contagious and recovery is spread by recovery carriers. Those notions first came to me on April 14, 2010 when I stood to speak at Northeast Treatment Centers' (NET) dinner honoring NET's 40th anniversary and the achievements of NET members. Here are some of the words that came to me as I stood before a room packed with people filled with hopes of what their newly found recoveries would bring.

"This night is a celebration of the contagiousness of recovery and the fulfilled promises recovery has brought into our lives. Some of you did not leave the streets to find recovery; recovery came to the streets and found you. And it did so through volunteers of the NET Consumer Council walking those streets. They put a face and voice on recovery. They told you that recovery was possible, and they offered their stories as living proof of that proposition. They told you they would walk the road to recovery with you. Some of you hit low points in the early days of that journey, and it was your brothers and sisters in this room that lifted you back up--who called when you missed group, who, in some cases, went and got you."

"The contagion of addiction is transmitted through a process of infection--the movement of addiction disease from one vulnerable person to another. The contagion of recovery is spread quite differently--not through infection, but affection. Those who spread such affection are recovery carriers. Recovery carriers affirm that long-term recovery is possible and that the promises of recovery are far more than the removal of drugs from an otherwise unchanged life. They tell us that we have the potential to get well and to then get better than well. They challenge us to stop being everyone's problem and to become part of the solution. They relate to us from a position of profound empathy, emotional authenticity, respect and moral equality--lacking even a whisper of contempt. Most importantly, they offer us love. Yeah, some of us got loved into recovery, and I don't mean in the way some of you with smiles on your faces may be thinking."

"We all have the potential to be recovery carriers. Becoming a recovery carrier requires several things. It requires that we protect our recoveries at all cost--Recovery by any means necessary under any circumstances. It requires that we help our families recover. It requires the courage to reach out to those whose lives are still being ravaged. It requires that we give back to NET and other organizations that helped us along the way. And it requires that in our new life, we try to heal the wounds we inflicted on our community in our past life."

"Addiction is visible everywhere in this culture, but the transformative power of recovery is hidden behind closed doors. It is time we all became recovery carriers. It is time we helped our community, our nation, and our world recover. To achieve this, we must become recovery. We must be the face and voice of recovery. We must be the living future of recovery."

"So to all who are here tonight--individuals and families in recovery and allies of recovery, I leave you with this message. Recovery is contagious. Get close to it. Stay close to it. Catch it. Keep catching it. Pass it on."

I'm still not sure where those words came from; I had never used such phrases before, but I believe them even more today than when they were first spoken years ago on a spring evening in Philadelphia.