Melissa Day: After an addiction’s visibility, comes quiet recovery

Posted Aug. 20, 2008, at 11:37 p.m.

I’m not invisible. You can see me. There is no degree of separation between us; I am right beside you. You pass me on the street everyday. I’m under your nose, in plain sight. I’m the quiet neighbor who always has a cheerful greeting, or the woman working out next to you in the gym. Perhaps I’m the dog walker, reliable as a clock in the early morning. I am your gardener, your electrician, your doctor, your clerk, your co-worker, your acquaintance. I am your lawyer, your friend, your brother, your mother. I’m one of the regulars at your church or synagogue. I don’t stand out in the crowd. I’m not an extraordinary person. I’m a person living in recovery from addiction.

The effects of addiction are plain to see. Slurred words, the obnoxious jerks having shouting matches at 2 a.m. with no concern for anyone, in-cluding themselves. Accidents, lies, theft … embarrassing behavior at the worst possible times. Lives cut short, innocent victims. These people are very visible; they are easy to pick out of the crowd. They live their lives in fear and anger with compulsion dic-tating their every waking moment. They do not believe there is any other way, at least not for them.

Exploitation of the disease promotes this lie. The high profile tragedies, the crimes, the heartaches, the sensation of a drug bust. Now you can watch this play out on TV shows like “Inter-vention” or be a voyeur as celebrities try to get straight with Dr. Drew.

All true, but only the pathetic half of the story. You never see the story of people celebrating a half a century of sobriety at a party at a local meeting. You rarely hear how lives are re-stored, families healed, careers cre-ated. But it happens every day. The power of recovery is the story to be told.

Everyday we see recovery in all its fabulous forms: the single mother goes back to school; a man reunites with his family and reclaims his place in the community; people leave wel-fare to pay their own way. We all are finding our way to fit into the fabric of life and our community, no longer marginalized by our addiction. People look us in the eye and we look right back. We are invisible because we are you.

We all know the Bangor community has a problem with addiction. Alcohol is still No. 1, but the drugs grab the headlines. Statistics are sobering and cause for alarm.

Shrinking resources for treatment should be cause for alarm to the re-covering community as well. The life-blood of the recovering community are newcomers, and carrying the message of recovery to those who still suffer is the primary purpose for the recovering community. But new treatment methods utilizing medica-tions challenge the traditions and values of the recovering community. We are often at a loss as to how to support them, and people struggling to establish their way in recovery are getting lost. A thriving recovering community teems with successful newcomers.

The Bangor Area Recovery Commu-nity Collaborative is a group of recov-ering individuals and their allies who advocate and support addiction re-covery in the greater Bangor area. September is National Recovery Month, and we invite the recovering community and its allies to a Recov-ery Summit at the Bangor Civic Cen-ter on Sept. 4 from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. The summit will be immediately fol-lowed by a Recovery Celebration fea-turing music and laughter. I advocate and encourage all those with the gift of recovery to join us in sobriety to find ways to pass on the message in this new millennium.

For us, there is nothing more power-ful and sublime than the interaction between someone with the gift and someone seeking the gift. Come. Let’s talk.

Melissa Day is a member of the Bangor Area Recovering Community Coalition. For more information on the summit, contact the City of Bangor at 922-4299.

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