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Submitted by Cheryl Strike on Sun, 09/09/2012 - 6:44pm
This article was written by Paul Hart Ruthenbeck, a member of the Northfield Mayor’s Task Force on Youth Alcohol and Drug Use.
September is Recovery Month. Recovery Month promotes the societal benefits of prevention, treatment, and recovery for mental and substance use disorders, celebrates people in recovery, lauds the contributions of treatment and service providers, and promotes the message that recovery in all its forms is possible. Recovery Month spreads the positive message that behavioral health is essential to overall health, that prevention works, treatment is effective and people can and do recover. (www.recoverymonth.gov)
For me, another big part of Recovery Month is the removing of the stigma that surrounds mental and substance use disorders. Throughout the country there are events that are billed as the “Faces of Recovery.” Today I would like to add yet another “face” to recovery. Because I am one of those “faces.” As of August 16, 2012, I have been in recovery for three years.
My journey with substances started out as most people. I tried alcohol in high school and drank occasionally throughout high school. As I entered college, my drinking increased but I was always able to rationalize that I did not have a problem. As I got older I realized that my drinking was becoming a problem. I would change jobs and careers on a regular basis so my coworkers would not discover my secret. Each time telling myself that it was not my drinking that was causing the problem but that I had just not found the right profession or that I was working in the wrong environment.
After several setbacks both professionally and personally I found myself unemployed for an extended period of time. At this point in my life my substance use disorder could no longer be ignored or rationalized. Even though I knew my drinking was out of control I could not stop my using. That is, until my family intervened and I got professional help.
Since I have gotten into recovery with the help of family, friends, dedicated professionals and this community, I have gone back to school and passed the state exam to become a Licensed Alcohol and Drug Counselor (LADC). I can honestly say that long-term recovery is possible.
I love to celebrate Recovery Month every September but I personally celebrate every day of the year. As an LADC, I am privileged to witness the incredible work that people do every day to change their lives and get into recovery. There is nothing more rewarding than watching the transformation that takes place in a person as they work towards a life of recovery. Not only is recovery possible but so is the insight that life can be great without the use of chemicals. So, to all of the dedicated professionals who work in the field, the recovery community, and this community I say: “Thank you for your support.” Recovery Rocks!