Dear Family and Friends,
Recently I was listening to Christopher Kennedy Lawford, a leader in the addictions recovery community; speak about the concept of "getting out of the basement." It's a powerful idea that resonates with me personally and professionally. What I heard Christopher saying very profoundly was that we need to move out of a basement mentality and into a more positive perception of ourselves as people who are successfully dealing with our recovery.
|You can hear more about what Christopher has to say at his website Christopher Kennedy Lawford. He is a passionate advocate for our movement.|
What are we to do about the sense of shame experienced by some members of our community? So much stigma has been associated with men and women recovering from their addictions over the years through media that I think there are a number of things we can do to help reverse this trend. For one, we can be proud of how far many of us have overcome and how we have persevered against all odds.
As I look back over the progress that any stigmatized group has made in our society, I see that one key step - before reaching a point of open pride - is to let go of shame. Before our culture will accept recovering men and women, those men and women, I believe, will have to stand tall and let go of their own sense of shame, whether it comes from within themselves or has been placed on them by society, in order to move away from the basement and into the light.
Lots of questions come up as we try to work this out in our lives and in our programs. For example, is anonymity still relevant for recovery in the twenty-first century? Does openly discussing and taking pride in our recovery help others come out and openly discuss their struggles with the disease of addiction and recovery, or does anonymity still take precedence over openly discussing who we are? These are delicate questions that require sensitivity. And there may not be one answer that fits everybody. But I, for one, am ready to help lead the way out of the basement.
At Next Step Recovery we create a safe place for our residents. Here they are safe to move from shame to openness and honesty. They can begin to feel at ease with who they are and even recognize that their past has brought them to this point of change, and so they can begin to value their past and honor their future. Yes, we sometimes have to help our residents reign in their mistakes, but at NSR we do that by sharing our own experiences and offering encouragement, new patterns, and collective support. (Take a look at this month's Men's Blog for a moving look at one person's story.)
Keeping in mind that recovery is about progress, we are moving beyond shame and taking pride in who we are.
Susan Stader, MS, LPC, LCAS
NSR Men Get Drenched
|Men's Rafting Trip |
As you can see in the photo here and the ones posted on our Facebook page, the NSR men had an exciting time recently at Nantahala Gorge in Western North Carolina! On June 10, we went whitewater rafting at the Nantahala Outdoor Center. Shooting the rapids was fun - but also a challenge that required courage, skill, endurance, and teamwork. These qualities - built through our ongoing Outdoor Adventure series - are some of the very qualities that help our men and women succeed at Next Step Recovery.
Upcoming Outdoor Events for
NSR Men and Women
|Women's Rafting Trip|
Scott Lantay, our Outdoor Adventure Program Coordinator, has a number of events still to come for our summer season. Upcoming events for the men include a hike at Gorges State Park which includes Rainbow Falls and Turtleback Falls, as well as a water-slide down the rocks for the more daring men.
The NSR women will soon go rock climbing with Kendall Williams, at Snakes Den with Fox Mountain guides.
These events are an important part of our program, providing our residents opportunities to build confidence, develop practical skills, and socialize in healthy settings. Scott also plans some less structured events chosen by the residents. But knowing these guys it will be, as he says, "most likely something involving water."
Join Us at Networking Luncheons in Columbia and Greenville, South Carolina
Susan will be sharing the NSR vision and programs at two upcoming Mental Health and Addictions Networking Luncheons. Next Step Recovery is hosting the events along with Four Circles Recovery Center, CooperRiis Healing Community, and Skyland Trail.
Here are the details:
Thursday June 21
12:00 - 1:30PM
2013 Greene Street
Friday June 22
12:00 - 1:30PM
Brick Street Cafe
315 Augusta Street
If you are a mental health or addictions professional who is interested in joining us, please contact Stephanie.McMahon@CooperRiis.org. Spaces are filling up quickly!
I often hear young people share in meetings that one of their biggest concerns in recovery is whether they will be able to have "fun" without drugs and alcohol. While I do not believe early recovery is supposed to be all about fun, I know that Next Step Recovery understands these concerns and the staff and personnel go out of their way to incorporate activities like River Rafting and Carowinds into their program.
For me, this is important on a number of levels. Obviously, the trip was a blast and I had a great time rafting down the Nantahala. The water was cold and paddling was exhausting, but at the time all I could think about was whether this river bend was going to be as exciting as the last. But the trip provided two other equally important opportunities.
For one, the trip allowed me to bond with a group of guys that I don't regularly see throughout the day at the house. I was in a small raft with six others guys, working together to make it down the river as dry as possible. Although none of us were dry at the end, we were all closer because of it. Closer because we had shared laughs and jokes on the ride down, and closer because we were all soaked and had worked together to keep the boat facing the right direction.
Second, the trip provided me with a unique opportunity, to go rafting. I grew up in a relatively flat area of the country filled with strip malls and soccer moms. Next Step gave me the opportunity to test myself with a new challenge. I'll be honest, I had some concerns about rafting. However, I was able to put my trust in the Next Step staff who had done the trip as many as 4 years in a row and built up the courage to get out on the water and push through the rapids.
Although I originally went rafting for a "fun" time, I am grateful to Next Step Recovery for so much more. Without these opportunities provided by Next Step, I would not be able to bond with my housemates on a completely different level, nor would I have been able to challenge myself in a new and exciting way. I went rafting because I thought it would be fun, and came home with a new friends, strengths, and accomplishments.