September is National Recovery Month, a month to celebrate those in recovery from addiction and an opportunity to change the world that lost loved ones to this illness by providing resources of hope and healing.
Though I haven’t experienced addiction personally, the circumstances of addiction surrounding me have affected my life. But also because of this circumstance, I have witnessed the impact an individual recovery makes on those surrounding them.
Not All Heroes Wear Capes
I come from a family that has been affected by the disease of addiction in many ways. What I have come to find is that addiction does not discriminate. This disease doesn’t care how healthy you are, your family history or non-family history, whether your best friend is in recovery—and because of seeing them go through that—you assume you will never struggle with that.
I am not here to share my brother's full story of his addiction and recovery—that’s his own story to tell. I am here to advocate for him and give a perspective to those of us affected by addiction in some way, or even those of us who don’t really know much about this disease. Because quite honestly, if it weren’t for my family’s experience, I am not sure I would even be where I am today.
My brother is my hero. He is unapologetic. He is a fighter. He is a go-getter. He loves in all ways possible—tough love as needed, tender love when necessary and fun-love at all times in between. Ultimately, he is the reason hundreds of other men and women are alive and healing today. I once read a research study that I believe perfectly describes the ripple effect that my brother's recovery, and many others, has on the people around them. William White once said,
“The contagion of addiction is transmitted through a process of infection—the movement of addiction disease from one vulnerable person to another. The contagion of recovery is spread quite differently— not through infection, but affection. Those who spread such affection are recovery carriers. Recovery carriers—because of the nature of their character and the quality of their lives—exert a magnetic attraction to those who are still suffering.”
You see, even in his addiction, he was a loving and caring older brother. I don’t say this to show a “picture perfect” person or family. I say this because people struggling with the disease of addiction don't want their life to be that way. Like cancer or other illnesses, they didn’t choose this disease. The disease took hold of their life, and they have to fight it—even in long-term recovery.
We Are All Recovering from Something
I am learning that we are all recovering from something, and even on my worst days, I look up and think of what my loved ones in recovery have overcome.
There is something so beautiful about watching someone you love heal from something that used to make them so broken. Research confirms that addiction is a family disease. But, on the other hand, I can attest that recovery is a family blessing. Because of my brother's story, and the grace of God, our family is stronger and closer now more than ever because of our healing journey together. Recovery is a beautiful thing, and I hope we can all experience the healing it provides in one way or another.
There is No Wrong Door to Getting the Help You Need
Sometimes I think the term “Marketing” has a bad reputation in pretty much any industry, especially in healthcare. What I have come to learn, though, is that if you surround yourself with a company that cares about its people, you are then surrounded by people who truly have a passion and desire to help other people.
I came from the music and events industry, and I never really saw myself working in any type of healthcare. But, I am now proudly, and thankfully, here because of my brother and many others. I am also here to fight for change in this industry and my community to help break the stigma associated with this disease by providing solutions and options for people.
As a marketing professional in the behavioral healthcare space, I am here to help start the conversation. From creating awareness and actionable events, interactive social campaigns and movements, and providing educational content, I hope that wherever and however you find Promises, you feel comfortable and open enough to take that courageous step to reach out. It can feel overwhelming with so much information out there and resources to choose from. Big or small, we are here to take your hand and walk alongside you to help connect those dots to help begin that journey for you or your loved one.
I feel so blessed being able to work in this space for the past six years. It’s been both a learning and growth experience for me personally and professionally. Above all, it’s been a rewarding journey for the relationships around me. I often find myself in a state of gratitude now more than ever and continuing to heal in ways beyond my imagination from my family’s story.
Whether it’s someone in your biological family or chosen family, I hope that my small story and a world of many more told or untold stories can make an impact on you and your loved ones to take that next step in healing.
Oh, and a huge shout out to the millions of heroes of mine in long-term recovery this month and every month. Because, THAT’S a stat you don’t see in the news too often!
Written by Carli Stump with Promises Behavioral Health