October 4th, 2015: “The Day the Silence Ended”
October 4th 2015 will be remembered in days to come as the seminal moment when dealing with substance use and mental health disorders came out of the shadows of stigma, discrimination, shame and ignorance. Tens of thousands of people in recovery and those who support those in recovery plus 700 local, state and national partnering organizations met in the sunlight of the spirit on the National Mall in Washington DC to open the hearts and minds of America that “Treatment Works and Recovery Is A Reality”.
As a personal witness to the Recovery Movement for the past 41 years October 4th, 2015 will be remembered for the day the conversation about addiction and mental health challenges moved from being discussed as problems to one of solutions. The Surgeon General of the United States made it known that he was announcing the upcoming first Surgeon General’s Report on addiction. I can recall back in the 1960’s when that Surgeon General then started to change the conversation regarding the dangers to our country’s problem with cigarette smoking and nicotine addiction. It was another seminal moment for our country to face a devastating health issue.
Journeys begin with a first step and October 4th was just that. From this day forward America can no longer allow itself to remain in ignorance about these behavioral health issues, these issues can no longer be described as moral failings or lack of will power but to be defined and portrayed for what they are, a chronic health problem seeking a health solution. Those in the forefront of this Recovery Movement have found a rejuvenated, renewed and revitalized mission to expand and increase the awareness that a successful Recovery is possible. As I have stated before in order to achieve a successful Recovery you need five essential components which are Hope, Health, Home, Purpose and Community and on last Sunday on the National Mall communities from all over America came together as one voice to “End The Silence”.
Let this moment be the clarion call for all those millions of Americans who are affected by this chronic health crisis. No longer can we ignore the impact that this crisis has on our citizens, families and loved ones. Let us come together, in community, “United To Face Addiction”, working in concert with one and another, creating a platform for experts, organizations and peers that are already successful in Recovery to bring about the solutions that will help more people facing these problems find the answers they are seeking much faster and with greater success than was previously possible.
This is this generation’s public health crisis. This crisis can be dealt more effectively through prevention, treatment and recovery programs. We must advocate for continued funding support from our government, build grass root organizations to give voice for those in Recovery or those seeking Recovery and to continue to face these addiction issues and mental health challenges with empathy, understanding and urgency.
Together we can save lives.