Did you ever read an article and think “That’s really reaching for a topic”? You know what I mean—the information is something so well-known, or the topic seems so unnecessary, that you wonder how it ever made it to print. I just read one like that. It had a title similar to others I’ve seen, such as Top Cities to Retire In, or Top Cities for Singles, only this one, in USA Weekend, was Choose Health: Top Cities for Living Clean and Sober.
The writer interviewed the editorial director of addiction and recovery site The Fix, which I’ve written about before on the MBRC blog. What the director said was correct—“[when recovering,] having a community and support around you is vital,” but to name actual “top” cities that are good for living clean and sober seems a reach, at best. Every large city has bars, and even smaller towns have liquor stores. (For the record, L.A., Delray Beach, Fla., and NYC were the three top cities mentioned in the article. L.A. was lauded for its high number of treatment centers and focus on healthy activities, and the Florida city was cited for retirees that “energize this recovery community” (?) and for a recovery motorcycle club. NYC offers the most AA meetings and a big recovery population.)
These are large, well-known cities, and I would agree that there are probably lots of self-help meetings and treatment centers in cities as opposed to small towns. But just as temptation is everywhere, those in recovery, or wanting to recover, and reach out anywhere. There are online meetings, and organizations such as hospitals and churches and the like offer programs for substance abusers.
I have wondered if kids who live in rural areas turn to drugs more frequently than others (especially those where meth labs are prevalent?), and those who don’t have much hope of making a good living. But what about all the wealthy kids who are in the news for their substance abuse?
No, it’s not the city you live in that determines whether you take drugs or get – and/or stay – clean and sober. If you know anything about substance abuse, you know that it affects all socioeconomic levels, and all areas of the country, and as I hope you’re finding out the other countries I’m writing about, it affects our world. Many things affect recovery: whether you get help handling trauma, if that’s been a major problem, and don’t turn to drugs to self-medicate, or whether you can get into a (good) treatment program, and whether you stay away from triggers and the addicts you were associating with when it all started, to name a few.
Just ask Cheryl Debow, of Middletown, Ohio, whose Army veteran son died of a drug overdose while waiting for a spot in an addiction program in 2010: A Veteran’s Death, the Nation’s Shame.
Or, on a more positive note, ask Antonio Lambert of Smyrna, Delaware, a 41-year-old mental health educator with a dual diagnosis: mood disorder with drug addiction – one of “the scariest in drug addiction” who was featured in: “After Drugs and Dark Times, Helping Others to Stand Back Up.” He grew up in Portsmouth, Virginia without much supervision and became an alcoholic at a young age. He was sexually abused, got into gunfights, and was sent to prison. When he was released his mood disorder kicked in big time and he began using cocaine. Finally he entered a Christian-based recovery program, which made all the difference. He now works as a peer supporter.
Substance abuse has a wide reach, from the largest town to the smallest city. But so does recovery and those who care about helping.