This was written as a response to the news of Amy Winehouse’s death
Those who do not survive addiction leave behind grieving families, friends and communities who may question what they could have done differently. To this tremendously agonizing question there is no single or simple answer. We can, however, start to look at addiction differently and recognize that with support, awareness, allies and hope recovery is possible and it benefits everyone. We know from the National Institute of Drug Abuse and others that:
- About 570,000 Americans die each year from the abuse of alcohol, tobacco and illegal drugs
- Individuals treated for alcohol misuse are approximately 10 times more likely to commit suicide than those who do not misuse alcohol, and people who abuse drugs have about 14 times greater the risk for suicide
- For every $1 invested in treatment, taxpayers save at least $7.46 in costs to society
- About 20 million Americans are living in long-term recovery
Recovery from addiction is about recognizing that each person must be a central participant in his or her own recovery. There is hope for everyone. Although types of treatment and recovery services may look different, all services should offer choice, honor the individual s potential for growth, focus on their strengths and attend to each person s overall health and wellness.
Seeing active addiction played out on the public stage conjures up many feelings – enthrallment, disgust, pity and compassion, just to name a few – and it may be argued that public scrutiny and pressure can render recovery even more elusive.
We can all agree that last week we lost an incredibly talented young person to addiction. Let s use this tragedy to focus on ways that we can support those who need help. And we can begin by looking to those of us in long-term recovery and identify and explore the opportunities we were afforded that helped us get well. We recover, we get better, we thrive and we live to tell our tales to help others.