Feature Story Health

Twenty three million Americans are recovering from alcohol and drug addition

By Lori Lyn Lirio

 Faces and Voices Recovery Exectuive Director Patty McCarthy Metcalf. Image © irwcconference.com

ABOUT 23 million Americans are in long term recovery from alcohol and drug addiction.

According to Faces and Voices of Recovery executive director Patty McCarthy Metcalf, the Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Island should be part of this community as there are also recovering alcohol and drug dependents in the islands.

“You have people here in CNMI that are also living in recovery but don’t even talk about it. We want people to be not ashamed and come out in their recovery,” Metcalf, who was on Saipan to give training and technical assistance to the Blue Ribbon Action Team and the Community Guidance Center staff, said.

At the same time, Metcalf expressed support for the Blue Ribbon Action Team and its structure in giving support to people with alcohol, drug-abuse or mental-health problems.

The Faces and Voices Recovery is a national organization that unites people around the country, the mainland, as well as on the island to be part of the recovery movement and to advocate and share their stories about what they have accomplished. The group educates people in recovery, Metcalf said.

“Through Faces and Voices Recovery, they get their families back – not losing their children to child welfare system and they rebuild family,” she said.

“We see an individual using drugs and alcohol. They become dependent on that and they isolate themselves. They damaged their relationship with family members, they lose their job, or they might go to prison.”

The problem is they become isolated and harder for them to regain their places as community members, once they take down that path,” she said.

Another difficulty, according to Metcalf, is the lack of coordination of resources and public awareness around the states and even on the islands. She said there is still stigma and discrimination from the people.

“If public thinks that if people who have alcohol or drug problem are bad people then that is really shaming of people who have a disease. They need help.”

Metcalf noted that “there are a lot of people in recovery.” She also said “they are peers to one another that they can help one another who have struggles with the same challenges. The most important thing is they could share each other with the successes of their recovery.”

The organization, which was established in 2001, was founded by people who are on recovery and their family members.

“We are putting faces and voices of recovery. They have been doing something for the community. We are helping to strengthen them and give them a voice in Congress to get funding for the organization, so they can provide pure recovery support services and recovery drug court and emergency department,” Metcalf said.


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Lori Lyn Lirio
Lori Lyn C. Lirio is a veteran newshen having worked for the People's Journal Tonight for more than 10 years. She has a Bachelor of Arts in Mass Communications degree from the Lyceum of the Philippines University. She currently writes for the Marianas Variety, Saipan's number one community paper. .

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