Owed To FreedomJuly 2, 2021
By Merlyn Karst
President, The Purpose of Recovery
An Ode is poetic praise. Owed is a debt recognized. Freedom is due both. My favorite Ode is Ode to Joy.
We celebrate July fourth as independence day. The liberty bell is cracked but freedom still rings. We owe much to our liberty and freedom, and unless impugned and diminished, they are being regained and appreciated. The Statue of Liberty invites with these words, give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses, yearning to breathe free. The peril, pain, and persistence of the Pandemic is passing. The masses can now huddle (and hug). We no longer need to show our frowns, but hide our smiles behind a mask, We look for positive paths forward. No way becomes yes way and no can’t, and yes but, becomes Yes, can. Flip the memory switch to the positive. Recall the pleasant parts and diminish past problems. Use the positive virtualocity gained. It’s a yes, can do exercise. Sometimes it is hard to think positive thoughts. Go to your heart as they are often hidden there. However, here is some important information that will still require attention.
Before and within the pandemic and under the radar exists an ongoing epidemic of addiction and overdose from alcohol and all illicit drugs. Its impact has grown dramatically, with startling numbers of deaths. Those who have successfully overcome substance use disorders (SUD) and achieved active and sustained recovery owe a lot to freedom. Those with freedom from SUD and the freedom to live a life of well-being and happiness, yes, can help others find that freedom. Today there are many paths to recovery, with medically assisted recovery, treatment, and Peer support services. Individuals have the freedom of choice and assistance to choose wisely, to survive and thrive.In a recent Bill White blog titled Recovery Song (Dragon’s Lullaby) I read the words, I imagine a person battling a dragon, throwing pebbles at the beast to no avail, and then finding a melody that did not kill the dragon, but for some precious moments. Put it to sleep. words attributed to Stephanie Chang, NCSU, Social Work 516 (Addiction, Recovery, and Social Work Practice). What it described to me was medically assisted recovery. While the dragon sleeps, the free-thinking person quietly goes about seeking support and guidance to paths to recovery. The Bill White blog is more than worthy of time and attention.
I was pleased to read about advocacy and legislative efforts to reform the “50-year-old drug war” laws. I would like to take some liberty (no pun intended) with Bobby Darin’s Simple Song of Freedom. Some lyrics from the refrain, Come and sing a simple song of freedom. Sing it like you’ve never sung before. Let it fill the air, tell the people everywhere we, the people here, don’t want a war. Just take the liberty to add a word. Tell the people everywhere we, the people here, don’t want a drug war. There could be a lot of “don’t wants.” We have a new perspective on the words lock down and lock up. In either case, freedom is lost to pursue reasonable and effective solutions to problems plaguing the public in general. Within the cancel culture is the imperative to cancel addiction. “Will You?” requires skills of trust and persuasion and “You Will,” requires threats and intimidation. We have to advocate with a “will you” approach. These words from Hazelden/BFC Foundation. Recovery advocacy represents a hope-powered community. Our lives prove that recovery is possible, and our stories inspire action. Recovery advocacy is about replacing misinformation with understanding, misperception with empathy, and denial with hope.
My early experience with advocacy was flying to Washington DC on July fourth. Approaching Ronald Reagan airport along the Potomac, the fourth’s fireworks were visible through a left side window. What a feeling. The freedom to fly and the blessing of liberty. I was to meet the Secretary of the Interior, to advocate on behalf of those who wished to have more access and use of public lands for recreational vehicles such as snowmobiles and wheeled vehicles. The case made to be mindful of sound reason, rationale, and responsibility with recognition of conflicting views and using “skills of trust and persuasion,” The Secretary, a good steward of the lands, listened, understood, and agreed to support. We need to be skilled advocates and there is much to learn and there are many provisions for learning through resources like Faces and Voices of Recovery Advocacy Toolkit.
Kermit the Frog told us in song that there are many songs about rainbows and what’s on the other side —that someday we’ll find it, the rainbow connection. May I suggest that Recovery is the Rainbow Connection for loving, living, and dreaming in its reality. White’s blog (see below) is titled, Recovery Song, Dragon’s lullaby. We have Frog’s lullaby. It’s magic.
Merlyn Karst, Recovery Ambassador
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ABOUT THE PURPOSE OF RECOVERY
The Purpose of Recovery is a nonprofit, grassroots, peer-led recovery community in Orange County, CA. They connect with local, state, and national recovery communities to support long term recovery.
The Purpose of Recovery offers peer-to-peer support. Whether you are an individual in recovery from substance use disorder, a parent, partner, or concerned friend you will find peers who understand the unique challenges you face.
Learn more at https://thepurposeofrecovery.org/.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Merlyn Karst is a person in long-term recovery and a recovery advocate and Recovery Ambassador. He is a founder of Advocates for Recovery—Colorado and The Purpose of Recovery, California. Also, one of the founders of Faces and Voices of recovery. He is a writer and speaker about social issues surrounding the inappropriate use of alcohol and other drugs leading to substance use disorders, a mental health issue. He is particularly attentive to Peer driven support and services and their societal and economic benefits. They also provide reason and resources to reduce recidivism.
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