The trends appear to be positive. As states begin dipping their toes into the task of reopening, it evokes those mornings when you are up at dawn. The streets are still mostly quiet, and the darkness hasn’t quite lifted, but there is a feeling that it won’t always be this way. There is an undercurrent, a rising buzz. Hope begins to creep into our tired consciousness. Perhaps it will soon be somewhat normal again.
Yet, as we embrace the emerging signs, there is also the cold realization that for many it will never be the same. People have been taken, good people, and they are never coming back. Too many businesses haven’t made it or will not survive, and the financial devastation it brings will be felt deeply for years to come. Coronavirus has taken a giant bite out of quality and quantity of life. The gaping holes it has left will be nearly impossible to fill.
For those of us involved in the field of drug and alcohol addiction treatment this reality is all too real. The relapses are real, the uptick in overdose deaths is real, and the mental health toll is real. Assessing the damage of the convergence of Covid-19 and an ongoing opioid epidemic will greatly distress those tasked with undertaking those studies. Heroic frontline professionals did everything in their power to staunch the bleeding. They have accomplished great things; many human lives are in their column. Yet there is a dark truth in tragedy of such scale. Triumph comes in trickles, like thin rays of a flashlight with a battery about to give out. There are stories of victory, but the story is of loss.
But soon will be the time to change the narrative. We will begin to write the hopeful sequel, where the pain recedes to the background and the story is once again of triumph.
As we inch forward toward slowly opening doors, we all have a decision to make.
Do we forge ahead alone, or do we drag another someone with us?
People so committed to recovery have struggled. The isolation was exactly what they didn’t need, and triggers are everywhere. Others have experimented with substances for the first times and alcohol consumption has never been higher.
Too many people will have to face addiction for the first time, and too many will feel they have returned to the beginning of the fight; one they had thought was safely in the rearview mirror. But they will continue to move forward.
There will many wonderful folks who won’t dream of giving up. They will enter rehab and refuse to be fazed by the hard work that comes with it. They will support each other, form friendships that will last through a lifetime of growth.
There will be family members who will encourage and prod them forward. They will do this without judgement and instill belief and self-worth. Because that’s what defines family. There will be friends who intervene. They will do this with love and compassion because that’s what friends do.
There will be recovery centers who will be ready to welcome them all. Staff who have risen under the worst of times, touched greatness and claimed a portion for themselves. They always believed in what they were doing. It is only stronger now, unshakeable. They can change the world. They know because they already did.
These people are united, and they can use all the help they can get. Let’s write the new story together, spread a new contagious cycle. Of rebuilding, of hope, of miracles.
Everybody knows somebody who can use a gentle push. Don’t be afraid to be the one to give it, and certainly don’t be afraid to be the one to accept it. One day you will be there to push along someone else.
If we join hands as the clouds part, we will become an army blessed with the power of a clear sky and a unified goal.
We are all ready to recover and rebuild.
Let’s each include one more person.
It will help others heal.
And it will heal something precious in ourselves.