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Recovery Allies: Supporting the Pillar of Health

Issue 30

Recovery is multifaceted, and one of the foundational pillars that supports this journey is health.

As discussed in Alison Webb’s book, Recovery Allies, the pillar of health is recognized as essential by the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. This pillar emphasizes the importance of addressing the health conditions and concerns that come from years of substance use.

Those in recovery often struggle with a range of health issues— both physical and mental. Years of substance use can lead to various health conditions, from dental problems to more severe issues like cardiovascular diseases, respiratory problems, and even cancers. It’s not just about the physical toll; the mental and emotional toll are equally significant. Substance use disorders often coexist with other mental health conditions, making the path to recovery even more challenging.

Addressing these health concerns is not just about treating the symptoms or the immediate problems. It’s about holistic wellbeing, ensuring that individuals in recovery are equipped to lead healthy lives in every sense of the word. This includes regular medical check-ups, mental health counseling, nutritional guidance, and physical fitness.

As she mentions a few times in the book, every individual’s journey is unique.

The common thread is the need for comprehensive health care that addresses the root causes and not just the symptoms. The pillar of health in the recovery journey underscores the importance of holistic well-being. It’s a reminder that recovery is about rebuilding one’s life — physically, mentally, and emotionally.

Here are five things a recovery ally can do to support the pillar of health:

Educate Themselves: Recovery allies can learn about the health challenges faced by people in recovery. This includes understanding the physical and mental health consequences of substance use and the importance of holistic well-being.

Promote Access to Healthcare: Allies can advocate for better access to healthcare services for those in recovery. This includes supporting initiatives that provide integrated care, combining conventional medical care with addiction or mental health counseling.

Support Mental Health Initiatives: Recognizing the significance of mental health in the recovery journey, allies can promote and support mental health counseling, traditional healing practices, and peer group sessions that cater to the unique needs of those in recovery.

Encourage Regular Health Check-ups: Allies can emphasize the importance of regular medical checkups to monitor and address any chronic health issues, ensuring early detection and treatment.

Raise Awareness on Holistic Health: Beyond just physical and mental health, allies can champion the cause of holistic health. This includes promoting practices that cater to emotional, spiritual, and social well-being, ensuring that individuals in recovery are equipped to lead fulfilling lives in every sense.

By focusing on these actions, allies play a pivotal role in ensuring that health, as a crucial pillar of recovery, is addressed and supported.

Alison Webb
Alison Webb
Alison Jones Webb, a public health specialist and recovery advocate, is the author of Recovery Allies: How to Support Addiction Recovery and Build Recovery-Friendly Communities. She has spoken at numerous professional meetings and is a certified prevention specialist and recovery coach.
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