By Jeff Vircoe
1. Educate yourself. Look deep.
With millions of Canadians facing mental health and addiction issues, there is a good chance that you know someone who is struggling. But many have avoided seeking treatment because they are afraid to reveal that they have a substance use or mental health disorder. The more we all learn about these issues, the sooner we can eradicate stigma around them, and, in turn, help more people in their recovery journeys. There is no better time to start than Recovery Month to read up or watch a documentary to get a sense on the true state of play in the world of recovery.
Recovery Month is the perfect time to read up, to watch a documentary or two, to get a sense on the true state of play in the world of recovery.
5 Documentaries worth watching: Heroin(e); Russell Brand: From Addiction to Recovery, (both on Netflix). Also: Dr. Feelgood; The Hope Dealer; Recovery Boys.
2. Learn the history
From castration to electric shock therapy to open-ended sentences in prisons. People with substance use issues have always been thrown under the bus, discarded, disenfranchised, left to die. There is a long history of stigma and discrimination when it comes to this massive mental health problem. Recovery Month is the perfect month to get a better historical sense of what it was like, what happened and what it is like now for those who are asking for help.
Books worth reading: Gabor Mate’s In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts; William L. White’s Slaying The Dragon; Johan Hari’s Chasing the Scream; Michael Kahur’s The Addicted Brain; Anna Lembke’s Dopamine Nation.
3. Talk to someone in Recovery. Seriously. We don’t bite.
If you were to call any treatment centre or any mutual aid support group (12 Step or secular, or Life Ring or Smart Recovery) and ask if you can talk to someone who has been there, done that and owns the t-shirt, you will almost certainly be put in contact with someone in recovery. You will find that there are many ways up the mountain. What works for one may not work for another. But people have their own stories of recovery. Heartwarming, heart breaking, inspiring, they share from the heart, and you can connect to them. Firsthand, lived experience.
4. Join the M-10 Petition
Recovery Days are happening from coast to coast this month in communities near you. Because of that, more and more Canadians will learn more about the illnesses that so many of their peers struggle with and recover from. Governmental policies on substance use need to be updated and in touch. This petition will force our lawmakers to do the right thing by the millions in this country who have substance use and other mental health issues at the forefront of their lives. Support it. If you really want to help out, download the petition, then get 25 signatures in your community, and send it to your MP. That greenlights them the opportunity to stand and speak in Parliament to the matter. Details here.
5. Recovery Day events are all over the place and they are free! Get out there!
Events, walks, dinners, galas, festivals are taking place from coast to coast. If you just Google “Recovery Day”, you will find all kinds of things going on with recovery this month. It is a party, a celebration, without the hangovers. Music, inspirational speakers, food, swag, all of it free, all of it hosted by people who want you to know they have turned the corner and are making a difference in their families, their workplaces, their communities.
EHN Canada is a proud sponsor of a number of Recovery Day events across the nation.
Jeff Vircoe is a B.C-based journalist, Canadian Forces veteran, former addictions counsellor, and a man in long-term recovery.