By the time you read this, we will have a somewhat better idea of where our White House is heading with recovery and treatment initiatives. Recovery residences (sober living homes) will be a huge issue in the coming months and years, perhaps even greater than anyone can imagine. With this issue must come a mammoth effort by all of us to ensure their growth and survival. Mark my words, the career bureaucrats and criminal justice zealots will attack this rapidly emerging recovery movement.
This unique area of recovery is a great tool for the rest of the field, if managed responsibly. Imagine no longer worrying about a newcomer going back into a negative living situation. The landscape without recovery residences is bleak at best. Make no mistake, recovery residences are lowering jail and prison bed counts. We, the people of the recovery and treatment industry, can either champion the successful recovery resident industry or pay exorbitant taxes for a never-ending, bloated industrial prison complex.
The knowledge that recovery housing is available the same hour an addict seeks help gives us an advantage for a “best outcome.” This includes same day access to appropriate medical detox and an appropriate recovery environment, whether it be specialty treatment, a quality recovery community center, responsible recovery residence or Recovery Oriented System of Care (ROSOC) correctional situation. The point is, all must be available the same hour of need!
“Same hour of need” is actually a part of our national DNA. We get gas the same hour we need it, we go to a restaurant when we require sustenance, to the emergency room for care, etc. The concept of “same hour of need” is all around us. It amazes me how we can arrest and lock up an addict or an alcoholic the same hour they act out in some form of public safety violation, but prior to that violation we have no means of helping that same person in that same hour of need. What is more disgraceful is that as a nation we know this to be true, yet we accept this as status quo.
“Same hour of need” is not a farfetched notion once we understand how potent we can be if we work together for the common good of our substance abuse treatment and recovery industry. There are millions of workers in this field, as well as over 50 million potential consumers. Don’t tell me we can’t get better organized to work toward our own “hour of need.”
So here we are, an educated, intelligent nation with the experience of hundreds of years. We know when we treat addiction as an illness and not a criminal justice problem we get a positive, measurable outcome. When we treat addiction as a criminal justice issue, however, we just get a larger criminal justice system. Hmmm.
The treatment community needs entry-level detox, inpatient, outpatient, individual therapy, counseling, medically-assisted services and recovery supports including ROSOC programs. The burden to continue the fight for better access to appropriate services at all levels of need rests solely upon those in recovery and those working in the field in correctional environments and in our communities.
Let 2017 be the year we look back upon 50 years from now and say:
“That was the year we turned the tide for good on the stigma associated with addiction, the year we came together and stayed together as a voice and face of recovery. 2017 was the year treatment, the recovery community and all the other allies of concern forever shifted our culture away from exploiting the members of our Great Society suffering from addiction.”
John Shinholser is the President of the McShin Foundation, founded in 2004 in Richmond, Virginia, by John and his wife, Carol McDaid. John has dedicated his life to helping individuals and families in or seeking recovery from the disease of addiction. mcshin.org