A recent newspaper headline read, “Cheyenne Man Gets Probation For Fifth DUI.” Those who celebrate addiction recovery dream of a day when headlines for such stories might read “Cheyenne Man Given Opportunity To Join Thousands in Recovery as Community Rejoices.”
The public often relates “probation” with a sense that someone deserving of jail got off easy. If you read further into the report, you’d learn that the man didn’t get off easy. The terms of his probation require him to successfully complete the stiff requirements of Laramie County’s DUI Court. Readers learned that he’d been successfully participating in the program. His early recovery meant that for nearly two months he’d been sober and violation-free.
Hopefully, the community will someday celebrate recovery from addiction, rather than punishment for addiction.
September is National Recovery Month. Millions of Americans across the country and hundreds here in Cheyenne, have been transformed through recovery. Unfortunately these successes often go unnoticed because of hard-to-unlearn stereotypes about addicts and addiction.
Recovery Month is a time for our community to learn of these accomplishments. Each September, those in recovery and their advocates speak about the gains made through recovery and share success stories with their neighbors, friends, and colleagues. In doing so, they increase awareness and a greater understanding about the diseases of mental and substance use disorders is achieved.
What should you know about addiction? First, it is not a moral failing but a disease. Like cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and other physical ailments, addiction can be, and often is, successfully treated. Jail sentences, no matter how long, do not treat addiction.
Second, while it helps if the addict wants treatment, enforced treatment works. It is why we are blessed in this community to have judges willing to make the extra effort to preside over drug and DUI courts. People often say erroneously that when it comes to addicts, “you can lead a horse to eat but you can’t make him drink.”
The truth is these courts have the power not only to lead the horse to water but also to make sure he or she stays there long enough to become thirsty. As drug and DUI clients become thirsty for recovery, they are also strictly monitored. There are job and educational requirements. People learn the skills they need to enter into years of recovery. It is the most successful route to recovery. But there are others.
The third lesson is that the community has cause to celebrate everyone who finds recovery. When one person succeeds in obtaining long-term recovery it is not only that individual who lives a better life. So does his or her family. The community becomes safer, healthier and more prosperous. Money is saved. Lives are saved. And it happens every day all around us.
Cheyenne is especially fortunate to have important resources contributing to successful recovery for hundreds of people. Recover Wyoming is a non-profit organization committed to the success of recovering addicts. In 2014, their small staff and large corps of volunteers served more than1900 people. Their services include referrals to addiction treatment, self-help programs, community resources, as well as recovery meetings and special events. The Recovery Center enables people to stay in recovery.
Volunteers provided 2150 service hours at the Recovery Center in Suite 405 of the Majestic Building. Volunteers keep the Center’s doors open, greet visitors, provide administrative support, and host advocacy opportunities.
Recover Wyoming quietly makes our community a better place to live. They and the thousands of recovering folks in our community deserve our praise. We honor their accomplishments because they’ve earned that and as a means of raising awareness.
Recovery Month highlights the achievements of those who reclaimed their lives in long-term recovery and honors the treatment and recovery service providers like Recover Wyoming. Recovery Month promotes the message that recovery in all of its forms is possible and encourages citizens to take action to help expand and improve the availability of effective prevention, treatment, and recovery services for those in need.