Voices of Alaska: Celebrate Alaskans overcoming alcohol addiction during National Recovery Month and beyond

  • By Tiffany Hall
  • Saturday, September 17, 2016 2:34pm
  • Opinion

Happy National Recovery Month! September is a month dedicated to increasing awareness about mental health and substance use disorders, and my hope is that Alaskans will also focus on the inspiring stories of successful recovery. They are stories that belong to people all around us, myself included. I am a recovering alcoholic. But if I hadn’t heard a woman share her story of addiction and recovery years ago, I may not have sought the help I needed to turn my life around. This is the power of celebrating recovery.

Stories similar to mine are shared every day, more often in personal conversations and small group settings than in public forums. Individuals who have made tremendous progress in recovery are rarely celebrated publicly. But by recognizing their efforts to better their lives, we not only reinforce the message that successful recovery is possible, we also reduce the stigma that surrounds the topic of alcohol abuse and addiction. As Alaskans, many of whom are impacted directly by alcoholism, we need to be proactive about recovery celebration as well as awareness.

Part of our mission at Recover Alaska is to elevate the conversation surrounding alcohol abuse and to shift perceptions that currently exist. These two goals are directly tied to one another; conversation molds perceptions and vice versa. That’s why I hope Alaskans make an effort during National Recovery Month to embrace stories of recovery, share stories of inspiration and encourage the conversation about alcohol abuse and recovery to continue well after September comes to a close. The Recover Alaska Resource Center at RecoverAlaska.org is a wonderful avenue for individuals to share personal testimonies about the grip of addiction, the challenges of treatment and the journey to recovery. Not only is the new site a comprehensive guide that helps educate people about alcohol use, connect them with treatment resources and allows them to take an online alcohol screening, but it also features recovery events, news and anecdotes about alcohol addiction. Have a question about detox? Visit the Frequently Asked Questions page. Want to share your own story of recovery? Head to the Stories page to find out how to submit it, and read other pieces from your peers while you’re there. We want to hear about your experiences — the low points, the victories big and small, and where the road to recovery has taken you. Our desire is for the site to fill a need for Alaskans, whether you’re seeking information about treatment for yourselves or a loved one, or looking for encouragement from others in recovery.

The new Recover Alaska Resource Center is also a partnership with United Way of Anchorage and Alaska 2-1-1. A “Get Help” feature on RecoverAlaska.org directs people to call 2-1-1, where trained information and referral specialists are ready to help connect individuals with providers and the other supports they may need, such as housing and transportation. It’s our hope that RecoverAlaska.org will serve as a useful tool for individuals, providers, and others seeking information about alcohol addiction and treatment. As we try to fill the gap in getting people to the services they need through a combined online and professionally certified staff, we recognize that the site will evolve over time as we receive important feedback. As we grow, we want to ensure the site offers hope and encourages people to seek their own “day one,” the first day of their journey to recovery.

The purpose of National Recovery Month aligns with our mission at Recover Alaska — to reduce excessive alcohol use and harm through individual, social and systemic change. National Recovery Month is also a time to step outside our comfort zones and talk about our experiences with alcohol abuse, addiction and recovery. Personally, I am so grateful to be in recovery from alcoholism. It has opened up my life to countless opportunities, and allowed me to see my strengths and embrace my weaknesses. I know that much of my current success in life is due to my experience rising above addiction and learning to live in sobriety, as well as my incredible support network, and I know many others in recovery who feel the same way. I am not who I am today in spite of my relationship with alcohol; rather it has helped me fully realize who I want to be. I hope you join me in sharing your stories of recovery and encouraging others to do the same. Let’s talk more about overcoming alcohol addiction. It is something worth celebrating.

Tiffany Hall is the Executive Director of Recover Alaska. She is a recovering alcoholic. See her story at http://recoveralaska.org/day-001-tiffany-hall/.

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