Question: What happens when 10,000 people in recovery from drug abuse and addiction get together to celebrate their sobriety?
SBB was part of the team that went with NIDA Director Nora Volkow last month to march across the Brooklyn Bridge as part of Recovery Month. Celebrated every September, Recovery Month honors the thousands of Americans who have kicked their addictions. Recovery Month is sponsored by government and other organizations dedicated to fighting substance abuse.
The event at the Brooklyn Bridge was an amazing experience. People in recovery came from every state. Some had been sober for only a few months, others for many years. You could see their stories on their faces, and many of them had been through a lot. But you could also see their hope that came from hard work. On this day, they all came together to walk across one of the most famous bridges in America, the same bridge that many American immigrants helped build more than 100 years ago to connect Brooklyn and Manhattan.
The bridge is a great symbol of hope and incredible achievement, since the technology behind its design seemed nearly impossible a century ago. It was so difficult to build that many people were injured and died during the construction - but it was eventually completed and still stands today. For the 10,000 people who had the courage not just to get treatment for their addictions, but to go public with their struggles to inspire others, their victory is a major achievement, like the bridge.
The Recovery Rally at the bridge was sponsored by A&E Entertainment, which produces the TV show Intervention. Counselors on the show work with families to help convince their loved ones to seek treatment for their addictions. Many of the counselors on the TV show led the way at the march across the bridge, along with Dr. Nora Volkow, holding a banner that says "A&E Recovery Rally."
If you watch the show Intervention, you might recognize some of the counselors in the photo.
Because addiction is a disease, it can be treated with therapy and, in some cases, medication. People can enter recovery from addiction, just like people can enter recovery from other diseases, like cancer.
Maybe when you think of someone who gets treatment for drug or alcohol abuse, you picture a middle-aged person who has struggled for half his life with the disease of addiction. That’s not always the case. Many teens and young adults enter treatment and recovery at a young age.
Take it from Ben Chin, who submitted his story to the “Youth and Young Adults” section of the website for September’s National Recovery Month health observance. Ben was addicted to alcohol by age 14—but he hasn’t had a drink since he was 19 (he’s 24 now).
In a video, Ben talks about how alcohol affected his life. “I missed a lot of opportunities,” he said. “I got arrested a lot. I missed a lot of school.” He also threw away a promising athletic future. “I lost the things that I cared about—my friends, and eventually, my family.”
Entering treatment and recovery, though, changed all that. Ben says, “Recovery has given me a new life and much hope for the future.”
In honor of National Recovery Month, take a moment to read and watch these personal stories from young people and adults in recovery.
Do you have a story about drug abuse or addiction? Consider submitting it here, which you can do anonymously. You never know who you might help by speaking out. Kristina Fenn says in her video, “My greatest fear before finding recovery was that I was the only person who had ever struggled with this disease. It’s never too early to get into recovery.”
As always, feel free to share your story in comments. We may offer you the opportunity to write a guest SBB post.