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Catherine Yura Essay

Recently, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provided three startling statistics:

* There have been 500,000 drug overdoses in the United States since 1999 – more casualties than were suffered in WWII, Korean and Vietnam wars combined.

* In 2013, U.S. healthcare providers wrote 249 million opioid prescriptions – enough for every American to have a bottle of opioid pills.

* West Virginia is one of the highest rates of death due to drug overdose (627 in 2014).

In spite of these bleak statistics, 23 million Americans from all walks of life have found recovery. These courageous individuals show us that long-term recovery can be a reality for those affected by addictions, but it is a process that takes time and support.

West Virginia University is developing a new Collegiate Recovery Program for students who are in recovery from alcohol, drugs and other addictions. Many colleges and universities are developing collegiate recovery programs to help recovering students maintain their sobriety, excel in their academics and have a fulfilling college experience apart from the culture of drinking and drugs.

The question: “What do you think when you hear the word recovery?” is to start the conversation about what the word “recovery” means to us on a personal level. The general public often believes that the word “recovery” means that someone is trying to stop the use of alcohol or other drugs and it reinforces the idea of a revolving door, which creates room for judgement and bias. The stigma and fear of individuals who are addicted continues to frame this population and poses great barriers to recovery. However, the real message of recovery is:

* Recovery is not the addiction.

* Recovery is more than not using alcohol or drugs.

* Recovery is creating a better life.

The question: “What do you think when you hear the word recovery?” was devised as a way to shift discriminatory barriers and encourage people to develop a deeper understanding of what long-term recovery actually is. There is no one right or perfect path to recovery. A panel of individuals who are in recovery will be discussing what recovery means to them on April 25th at 7 PM in the Gluck Theatre.