As of this September 2014, the addiction recovery community has been celebrating Recovery Month for a quarter century! Nationally and internationally, treatment centers, halfway houses and recovery networks are hosting events to celebrate recovery and spread awareness. One of those events is taking place in Wisconsin and being organized by a woman whose sobriety is one year older than Recovery Month itself. Maureen Jorgensen, who will be sober 26 years this Friday, is part of Wisconsin’s Faces of Recovery luncheon that will be held in a week.
Addiction & Recovery in Wisconsin
Flyers and ads for the luncheon state that it hopes to “celebrate those in recovery, remember those that have been lost to addictions and continue to reduce the stigma of addiction”. These are all admirable goals, as Wisconsin knows firsthand that addiction is deadly, yet it can be recovered from.
Remembering Those Lost to Addiction
Wisconsin struggles first and foremost with marijuana, cocaine, and opiates. It’s residents smoke more weed than the national average, but they also use more drugs other than marijuana. It has ranked among the top states for not only cocaine use but also the non-medical use of painkillers (i.e. abusing painkillers).
For a few years, there have been efforts to regulate painkillers and arrest irresponsible pill-prescribing doctors. Wisconsin, which is caught in the middle of the nationwide opiate epidemic, has found its pill supply restricted. This has caused opiate addicts to turn to heroin, and overdoses and deaths have skyrocketed. From 2007-2010, heroin overdose deaths more than tripled. Then, that number more than doubled by 2012.
Reducing the Stigma of Addiction
The addicts who have died are not simply sinners or criminals. They are sick people. Most, if not all of them, did not want to overdose. They simply wanted to get high. Why did they want to get high? Because they were trying to satisfy an appetite that can’t be satisfied…not even by a thousand pills, powders, and shots. They try to satisfy their craving for drugs no matter what. If they can’t get their hands on pills, then they move on to heroin — whether or not it will kill them.
Celebrating Those in Recovery
How do we remember our fallen brothers and sisters in addiction? How do we reduce the stigma of their condition? The Faces of Recovery luncheon in Wisconsin hopes to do this by showcasing those who have recovered. They are regular people, not to be praised or admired as such. They are living proof both that addiction can affect anyone, and that anyone can recover. At the luncheon, they will relate their stories of experience, strength, and hope. Without a doubt, they will tell us how their recovery started: by finding a drug rehab.