It’s no surprise that recovery and addiction come with social stigmas attached.

It’s easy to watch news stories about the Downtown Eastside and think those in addiction are a breed apart from the rest of us, but the reality is, addiction and recovery are all around us.

Addiction isn’t just on the peripheries of our society. It’s not a Skid Row problem, it’s a societal problem. It’s everywhere.

Whether it’s your friend’s son who stole their artwork to get a fix, your boss who thinks he’s hiding the Scotch in his drawer, the broker with a cocaine habit, or your beautiful daughter who’s popping pills to stay afloat in law school, it all comes from the same disease.

Addiction doesn’t discriminate. It strikes the rich, the poor, the brilliant, the uneducated, and everyone in between.

Recovery also plays no favourites. No matter what walk of life a person comes from, no matter what their past or heritage includes, they can overcome addiction and lead a life of recovery if they have the right support and enough courage.

At Welcome Home, we run a minimum two-year program, because we understand that recovery isn’t just about putting away the bottle or not doing the drug. It’s so much more than that.

A Chronic Condition

In the days following actor Philip Seymour Hoffman’s death, social media exploded with talk of addiction. We heard from people who had been living successfully in recovery for 20 or more years, stunned that this man stayed on the path for 23 years before fatally relapsing.

It was a reminder for us all, that even successful, grounded people with great families and a strong professional standing can relapse, even after decades clean. In recovery, there are no guarantees.

But there are powerful tools, supportive communities, and a growing number of resources for those who want to fight.

With addiction in all areas of our society – through every culture, every age group, every profession – it’s time we accept that it’s not a problem for just a few of us to solve. As a society, we have work to do.

A Social Solution

We need workplaces to support those who admit they have a problem, rather than terminating contracts. We need recovery groups to have an outspoken place in professional lives rather than being a secret meeting on the side. We need family and friends to not judge addiction like it’s a crime, but instead to understand that it is a disease as much as cancer is.

Organizations like ours are proving that long-term recovery benefits from a long-term approach. Whether we’re helping neglected, abused youth, or kids from good homes who took the wrong path, we’re learning that a whole-life approach suits people of all stripes.

From therapy to yoga, nutrition to a stable living environment, career training through to relearning what “fun” is, we’re making sure our students relearn the art of living one day at a time, for at least two years.

Next time you discover someone you know is suffering from addiction or succeeding in recovery, please remember to support them. It’s a life-long affliction needing chronic treatment, and you can be a part of their success. You may save their life.

If you know someone ready to make the commitment to recovery, we can help them get there. Talk to us.

You can call us toll-free at 1-855-592-3001. Learn more on our website at volken.org.