NCRAASBy the second day, my neurons were pinging at such a rapid rate I (kind of) blew my intro on the Governor’s Institute. I wanted a do-over. Ever have that happen, ever want a do-over? Let me step back a minute and fill you in. Tom Edwards, Outreach Coordinator for Pavillon, a leading Western-NC treatment center in Mill Spring, is a friend, a BFAM. He put a Summit together down in Florida (2013 CORE Conference) and wanted to recreate it here. It was an attempt to bring groups together, to breach divides between the various components of our SUD system and to create synergy and solutions. For example, Physician Health Programs (PHP) – professional monitoring organizations (doctors, dentists, in some states multiple professions) – have a set standard of care for doctors with substance use issues, including responses if a person is reported and in legal trouble. This standard of care can include mandatory urine analysis for illegal drug usage monitoring (UA).

In the budding Collegiate & Recovery Community world, the movement is in the opposite direction, away from mandating and toward person-centered, self-directed choices. This is an example of an apparent clash when in fact, both sides can appreciate the others position because we humans have much more in common than not. The fact is that PHPs are the gold standard of care for SUD as it is a 5-year model, among other reasons. So Tom planned and put together a summit bringing various groups to review, discuss and create action plans to take the state’s Recovery Oriented System of Care up some notches. He got buy-in and support from his Clinical Director, Brain Coon, and Medical Director, Dr. Roy E. Smith, Board Certified in Addiction Medicine & Family Medicine. They got investment from other centers like Fellowship Hall, Red Oak Recovery Center, Magnolia Landing, C4Recovery and my own Governor’s I to cover expenses. We met for two days at a hotel conference room in Greensboro. So, as far as “pinging”, allow me to offer some perspective.

Astrologers tell me that I have 5 fire signs in my chart. Are you familiar with the elements? Ether, Air, Fire, Water, Earth? For eons, all over the globe, virtually all Native tribes study and work within the elements, as they run through us and the world. Each element has a “purpose” and each of us tends to be strong in one though they all come into play. Ether is Intention, initial form/space. The Mystics say there is an actual Etheric Plane, influenced by all thought, where all creation for/on our Earth begins. We think and it forms on that Plane first, like a blueprint. Air is Formation, where those thoughts take on some form of harmony in moving to the material plane. Fire is Impulse/movement/heat/intensity. Did I mention I have 5 of those? Water supports Completion and intuition. Earth is History written. Aries, Leo and Sagittarius are the three fire signs in the astrology chart. Fire is the engine that gets things going, though it’s not great at follow-through – hence Water supporting completion. Fire creates a lot of “heat”. One way I would characterize my recovery is bringing balance to my Fire.

As a Sagittarius and an Enneagram type 8, I’m gifted with a bit of capacity for vision and a desire to make a difference. BUT, as an Adult Child of Alcoholic-co-dependent (ACOA) I have a compulsion to save/rescue my “family”, wherever. There’s a magnificent saying, “Do the right thing, for the right reason”. The second part of that sentence is key. “Why am I pushing for this (seemingly) good thing”? If I am motivated by my unconscious need to rescue my “family”, it creates issues/problems. As I do my work, over the years, I get healing and my relationship to my ACOA etc. changes and does not have sway (usually) upon my actions. However, last week I found myself in a room full of people wanting to work together (hearing each other), people who understand recovery and want to make a difference (i.e. a “loving family”), people asking me what I want (and actually present to hear). So throw in too much caffeine and some morning sugar (which I usually avoid), too much work and not enough recreation and you have a recipe for a bit of “tweak”. During my post-event inventory, I felt this and instead of second-guessing myself, I just wanted to get honest. The Summit was so exciting to be in that when it was my turn to plug Governor’s Institute, I found myself tripping over my own words.

The Summit included Recovery Allies and Champions, Collegiate Recovery (including superb experience from Texas and Minnesota), University Counselors, Graduate Professors, the aforementioned professional monitoring organizations, Drug Court reps, Advocates, Division of MH/SUS/I-DD people, a Harvard researcher, MD’s, lawyers with a stake in advocacy, Peer Support Specialists, lots of lived experience and more I’m forgetting. It was inspiring.

A take-away from the Florida conference is that advocacy alliances (real working relationships) should be built at the local and state level. Benefits I saw from the Summit included:

  • Developing relationships toward collaboration across systems after the summit
  • Shape the direction of collaborative work and future Summits
  • Increase advocacy in your work and across the field, best supporting those we serve
  • Improve awareness of the philosophies, programs and practices in these allied systems, and benefit from educational efforts and resources

The summit planners submitted questions and topics to learned friends who could not attend, to answer and discuss. Here’s a link to questions Bill White answered.

In the interest of keeping this shorter, I’d like to expand on this, from the personal to the macro, in my next newsletter. A core aspect of this vision, recovery as an organizing paradigm, can be applied to systems as much as individuals. ‘Til then: Keep Summiting out there!