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For many people, the journey from the culture of addiction to the culture of recovery includes reengaging as citizens – reconnecting and committing to the well-being of our communities and society. As citizens, recovery advocates are engaged in our political process – registering voters, asking candidates questions and yes, running for and holding public office. Growing numbers of recovery community organizations and recovery advocates across the country have prioritized active citizenship and community reconnection by getting involved in non-partisan civic engagement activities. They are raising recovery voices in the local, state and national arenas to educate candidates for public office about key issues. They are turning out voters in growing numbers to have an even greater impact on the lives of people who still need help to recover and our communities.

They are also infusing recovery into the political process by supporting people who are in recovery as they actively participate in public life. At this year’s national party conventions in Charlotte, NC and Tampa, FL there will be “safe space” for convention-goers including delegates, staff and guests.

Building on successful efforts in 2008, Recovery/Wellness rooms will offer peer-support meetings, an alcohol-free environment and recovery support to people attending the Democratic and Republican National Conventions. Organized by Faces & Voices of Recovery and the Coalition for Whole Health, the Recovery/Wellness rooms demonstrate that you don’t have to run for public office to participate in the political process of your community. While some choose to do this, there are many other ways to support recovery.

“One’s personal recovery can be challenging to maintain at a convention,” says Tom Coderre, a delegate to this year’s Democratic National Convention and an organizer of the 2008 Recovery/Wellness rooms, speaking of the chaotic atmosphere of these political arenas. Recovery rooms will be staffed by Coalition for Whole Health member organizations and volunteers from grassroots organizations and the recovery community in the Charlotte and Tampa areas.

“We are extremely pleased to continue this focus on recovery in the 2012 National Conventions,” according to Ron Manderscheid, Executive Director of the National Association of County Behavioral Health and Developmental Disability Directors and Co-chair of the Coalition. “This work sends a very strong signal to our national leaders that treatment works and that recovery from these conditions is a reality.”

Other activities, including Recovery Caucus meetings and visits with state delegations, are being organized. The American Society on Addiction Medicine, Caron Treatment Centers, NAADAC – The Association for Addiction Professionals, National Association of Addiction Treatment Providers, National Association of Drug Court Professionals and National Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare are supporting the Recovery/Wellness rooms. If you are going to be a delegate to this year’s Republican or Democratic National Conventions, please contact Faces & Voices to find out how to be involved in incorporating recovery from addiction and mental illness into our national political conversation.

Pat Taylor
Executive Director
Faces & Voices of Recovery

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