The Golden Rule of SUD Treatment and Recovery Services


First things first. How we treat others says a lot about a us as people or organizations. Are our systems inclusive or persons in recovery at all levels of system design and implementation? How are we treated by these systems that govern care? As valued partners, window dressing or simply marginalized? We will not make real progress unless we become a whole lot more inclusive and redesign care inclusive of the recovery community in authentic ways. Marginalizing the recovery community is reflective of a system that does not take recovery seriously is unfortunately pervasive.

So let’s apply the principle of the Golden Rule: treat others as you want to be treated. It is a maxim that is found in many religions and cultures. What it says:

  • Treat others as you would like others to treat you (positive or directive form)
  • Do not treat others in ways that you would not like to be treated (prohibitive form)
  • What you wish upon others, you wish upon yourself (empathic form)

Should we apply these concepts to the treatment and recovery advocacy space? What would that look like?  These are the kinds of things we should talk about regularly and work towards if we are going to move a care system in a way that gets high quality care to everyone who needs help. Some thoughts:

 Treat others as you would like others to treat you

We need to provide care for all people like we would want our own families to be cared for. Treatment and support that is designed with high quality, comprehensive services provided in a robust fashion over the long term.

  • Engage people in care at low problem threshold and help keep them engaged without barriers.
  • Peer Recovery services are used across the continuum to support the recovery process.
  • Family education and support is readily available.
  • Where appropriate, residential care is typically 90 days in length or more.
  • Supportive housing that is of high quality, safe and augments recovery for the residents.
  • If people need more intensive services at any point in care, they can access it seamlessly.
  • Recovery is ultimately about connecting people to the recovery community through many pathways of recovery.

Every person in America should get comprehensive treatment and recovery support services. We should want every person to get the same kind of care we would want for our own family members.

Do not treat others in ways that you would not like to be treated

What I don’t want for my loved ones is care that narrowly focuses on one facet and does not meet all their recovery needs. An example of this is our focus on the opioid epidemic and reducing overdose deaths. The vast majority of persons who are addicted to opioids are addicted to other drugs as well. These addictions will also kill them unless addressed. Reducing overdose deaths is not reducing addiction deaths or expanding recovery in our communities. I want my loved ones to get therapy and recovery support services that addresses all of their needs – not just one facet.

No one among us would want our own family members denied help or only partially cared for and left to suffer through debilitating and deadly addictions. Unfortunately, this is the scenario that is playing out every day across America.

We should think long and hard before we make arbitrary decisions based on the mind set that we can’t have a system where every person gets that level of care and pick groups that we deem unworthy of such efforts for our own loved ones.