I have been in active and sustained recovery for 24 Years. Through this period, I haven’t had a drink of alcohol, my only drug of choice. It worked for me until it didn’t. I was periodic. I had 3 DUI’s. No wrecks, no injuries, just arrests. I paid the consequences after early retirement. With a couple of setbacks, I held fast to my active and sustained recovery. My activity has been to serve me and others who want what I have.  I learned the recovery happens and is real if II work for it. So far, so good. In September 2001, I, with several others in recovery met and explored ideas and new approaches to strengthen our Voice and add our Face. We learned that by our silence, we let others define us. We sought to overcome silence and anonymity.

Last year, by our presence and Zoom, we gathered and celebrated 20-year anniversary of that event. Great information, education, fellowship, and fun. A rewarding experience for how far we have come and how far we must go. The recovery movement is not static. It follows new and active paths to addiction and death. The opioid crisis brought attention to fentanyl, to add potency.  Researchers developed Naloxone as a fast-acting life saver for over-dose victims.  Over the years, I have been involved with various organizations in leadership roles. I was Chairman of the Faces and Voices Board, helped found two non-profits, and was present for 22 rallies over this time. In August we held our second The Purpose of Recovery Rally in Orange County, California. Paul Williams was our speaker. It was an outstanding day of celebration.

I want to use the words of Faces and Voices of Recovery to introduce and remind readers of the reality of recovery and Recovery Month. Faces & Voices of Recovery is dedicated to organizing and mobilizing the over 23 million Americans in recovery from addiction to alcohol and other drugs. Bring our families, friends, and allies into recovery community organizations and networks.  Promote the right and resources to recover through advocacy, education and demonstrating the power and proof of long-term recovery.

September is National Recovery Month. What is Recovery Month?  You may have noticed that some of our content and materials resemble those from last year. We have adopted last year’s theme of “Every Person. Every Family. Every Community.” as our permanent tagline. Moving forward there will no longer be a new theme announced each year. As a result, you may see some familiar elements incorporated into this year’s branding and content. Recovery Month celebrates the gains made by those in recovery from substance use and mental health, just as we celebrate improvements made by those who are managing other health conditions such as hypertension, diabetes, asthma, and heart disease.  

Each September, Recovery Month works to promote and support new evidence-based treatment and recovery practices, the emergence of a strong and proud recovery community, and the dedication of service providers and community members across the nation who make recovery in all its forms possible.  Faces and Voices of Recovery now has 140 members of ARCO (Associations of Recovery Community Organization) and growing. These are centers for communicating resources to all on what is being offered during our 2022 National Recovery Month activities. Under the guidance and work of CCAPP, The California Capitol will hold a big event on September 7 in Sacramento.  I want to repeat what I wrote in a previous blog.

We have faces and voices with a message. We have Medically Assisted Recovery (MAR) tp diminish craving, with necessary fellowship meetings and therapy with recovery information. We have faces, voices, tools, and a variety of paths to recovery. The recovery movement is growing but in the face of an election year and the noise of the day’s events, we need more passionate, and dedicated faces and voices of recovery to carry the message. Nora Volkow, Director of NIDA, told us at year end of 2021 how important that we acknowledge the need for social contact, community friendship, and community involvement. I recall her words. We know how stress brings us together to face difficulty and help others. We can overcome most of the troubles that come from our daily lives. We have the capacity to overcome whatever we face, and we all do better with coming together. It will lead us to a better tomorrow and of coming together as a community and appreciation of family and friends.   Stand up, stand out, speak out, and be proud about it!

Merlyn Karst—Recovery Ambassador