This is a political post; I hope readers give me a chance and hear me out. As I have said before, I am a student of history, and have spent some time learning about the history of addiction and recovery in America. History can teach us important and relevant lessons. Over the last sixty years or so, we have tended to take a few steps forward and then a few steps backwards in respect to supporting recovery efforts. One thing is true however, and that is when we have managed to move things forward, it was because of broad, bipartisan support.
This is true even now in our hyper partisan political climate. In 2018, HR 6 the SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act passed the in the US Senate 99 – 1 and in the House of Representatives 396 – 14 before being signed into law by President Trump on October 24th, 2018. That is significant in our current political climate.
This is because addiction and recovery has long been seen as a nonpartisan issue. Addiction impacts everyone. There are great advocacy points that support expanding access to treatment and recovery support services that make sense from Conservative, Liberal and Libertarian perspectives.
When I reflect on this – I think that this is largely a factor of the lack of partisanship in recovery. In the culture of the recovery community, we all depend on each other, without regard to political beliefs. Thinking of a well-known member of Congress who had a very public arrest a number of years back. In reading back on his accounts of his journey in recovery, it was a member of Congress from the other party who quietly reached out to help him. They formed a deep connection based on their common purpose of recovery.
This is our recovery culture.
The one thing that I would want people to know about me is that political perspective are way in the back seat to recovery for me. I suspect that is true for the majority of us. If you have political views that are different than mine, I respect you, hold you in positive regard and want you to know that I am there for you in your recovery journey in any capacity that I can. We have a great deal of common ground, and I recognize that my own recovery is supported by people who have different political beliefs than my own. Said another way, my very life depends on people with different political views than my own. I think that this is true for the vast majority of the recovery community, and it makes me proud of us and what we stand for. Recovery must always come before personal ideology.
It is also important to note in this hyper partisan environment, if we ever lost that, we would lose all the gains we have made in supporting treatment and recovery efforts over my lifetime. I see policymakers with vastly different ideologies coming together on common ground to support treatment and recovery efforts. We must acknowledge and protect that common ground at all costs.
We have a long way to go to create a world where recovery is seen as the probable outcome for people with substance use conditions if they are given the proper care and support. This is our common ground and for which we should maintain our singleness of purpose.
We cannot afford becoming a partisan football. We all have a roll in this. Think twice before posting things that may be seen as hyper partisan on social media that may reflect back on the recovery community. If you run a recovery organization and are asked to provide information to a candidate or a political group, make sure you reach out to the other candidates and groups from the other “side” and offer equal support. Pay attention to hyper partisanship in recovery circles and educate people about the risks of dividing our community and becoming viewed as partisan.
We are indeed standing on the shoulders of giants – we must not fumble in our efforts to expand recovery by getting mired down in hyper partisanship. We owe this to the next generation. We stand to lose everything if we fail to stay above partisan politics.