Launching a Recovery Cafe in our valley would support healing and recovery
As community members, we have a lot to learn about addiction, recovery and supporting people who are desperate to heal and rejoin society.
The view that people who are addicted to substances are making bad decisions ignores the underlying driver of addiction — a history of trauma — as well as the neurobiological evidence that those behaviors rewire the brain, making it much more difficult for these individuals to change their behavior.
Sadly, the go-to approach is to punish and shame individuals for their inability to cope with trauma, which only adds to their distress and hopelessness.
The good news is that there are powerful approaches helping people heal — approaches that are based on building a community of unconditional human support and encouragement.
One such effort is the Recovery Cafe. A local filmmaker has produced a documentary called “Welcome to the Recovery Cafe” that will be the basis for a community dialogue shown on Thursday, Sept. 28, 5:30 p.m. at Van Tassell Student Lounge at Wenatchee Valley College.
It was produced by an award-winning producer and author who lives in Wenatchee, Paul Steinbroner. He has dedicated his career to understanding addiction and recovery and sharing compelling stories of healing through his films and books.
“The idea for the film is that it is all about inclusion,” Steinbroner told me. We sat down with Loretta Stover of the Center for Alcohol and Drug Treatment recently to discuss the film and how our communities can better help those who are desperate to find healing.
The journey out of addiction is extraordinarily challenging for those who are coming out of a treatment program and those who have been incarcerated.
Our valley has desperately few detox beds because of a lack of county funding, which is troubling. When people are ready to start their healing journey, we should help rather than hinder them. Fully funding an adequate number of beds should be a high priority.
To have a fighting chance to recover, we have to provide community support. These individuals have to disconnect from all their old friends and acquaintances, which adds to the loneliness, stress and isolation that they feel, Steinbroner told me. In addition, these individuals have a difficult time finding housing and getting and holding jobs. Is it any wonder that people relapse?
One critical resource in our valley to build a recovery community is the Wenatchee Alano Club. Thriving Together is building a network of recovery navigators to help people.
Recovery Cafes have a unique approach to building a recovery community. Members pay no dues but are required to volunteer at the facility and also attend facilitated group sessions. “It’s not a drop-in center,” Steinbroner explained. They become invested in themselves and each other.“You show up, you give your best. You’re there to be known and loved,” he said.
Building positive, healthy and supportive human connections is essential to help support people who are transitioning from addiction to recovery. It’s not just breaking a substance habit. It’s helping them find more constructive ways to deal with the trauma that drove their addiction.
“Having a place to go and then learning new ways of life and how to socialize” is critical, said Stover. Changing the neural pathways is a challenging and sometimes daunting task and some people won’t be able to make that transition.
The most rewarding part of working with people in addiction is when they start learning how to calm those anxious and fearful thoughts and learn new ways to deal with those stresses.“We are hope dealers,” said Stover, who has been in the recovery field for three decades.
“Many people who suffer from addiction hate it and want to change, but without adequate detox services, it’s extremely difficult,” Steinbroner observed.
Would a Recovery Cafe in North Central Washington make a difference? I think it’s an objective worth considering. Let’s work together as a community to help those struggling with addiction get the help they desperately desire. To check out the documentary trailer, access https://touchpointproductions.com/welcome-to-recovery-cafe-trailer/