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What It Takes to Create a Community Where Those in Recovery Can Thrive

How Friendly Are You?

Creating a Safe Place for Recovery

Here in Asheville, we pride ourselves in being friendly. Really friendly. Our businesses are environmentally friendly. Our restaurants and businesses are dog friendly. We’re definitely vegetarian friendly, and we’ve even been referred to as the “Vegan Capital of the South.” Asheville was the first official Bee City USA (so clearly we’re bee friendly). And we’re currently working on earning our breastfeeding-friendly status too.

All of these friendly designations let people know exactly what kind of place we are. A vegetarian beekeeper from Florida who likes to walk downtown with her nursing infant and four-legged fur baby knows she’ll find a warm welcome in Asheville. It might inspire her to vacation here. She might even decide to move here (many do).

I’d love for us to embrace another kind of friendliness, one that would improve the lives of millions of people not only here in Asheville but in communities across the United States.

Are You Recovery Friendly?

What if we could easily identify organizations that are recovery friendly?

We could look for recovery-friendly decals in local businesses and look for the same symbol when we make online purchases. We could stay in recovery friendly hotels, eat at recovery friendly restaurants, recommend recovery-friendly therapists, and send our kids to recovery-friendly colleges. You get the idea.

But what would make an individual, business or organization “recovery friendly”?

Although there are many ways to support recovery, these five ways are essential:

1.  A Safe Environment

Being “recovery friendly” means creating a safe environment where people can be open about their recovery, if they choose, and about what supports it. In this safe place, people don’t have to fear being judged as morally weak. They can be honest without risking losing a relationship, a job, or an opportunity to advance. A recovery-friendly environment is a place where people are recognized for the courage, commitment, and integrity that is demonstrated by their ongoing recovery.

2.  A Healthy Focus

Recovery-friendly organizations and businesses foster healthy interactions at work and at play. Official functions don’t center around mind-altering substances or include them as a general rule. Emphasis is placed on participating in meaningful work, cultivating authentic relationships, setting healthy boundaries, and encouraging individual and collective wellness. Healthy attitudes and behaviors are modeled across the organization.

3.  A Community That Cares

As the Beatles famously explained, we “get by with a little help from (our) friends.” We all need support from time to time. Humans are, after all, communal beings. Nowhere is community more important than in early recovery. A recovery-friendly organization encourages people to support each other, and it connects them to resources when needed. In a recovery-friendly organization, asking for help is not seen as a sign of weakness but of strength.

4.  A Little Knowledge (Is Power) 

When it comes to recovery, education is everything. At Next Step Recovery, our clients learn about the disease of addiction and how to manage it, about trauma and how to heal it, about stress and how to cope with it, and about what they are capable of and how to achieve it. Recovery-friendly people and organizations are committed to a similar path of discovery and growth. Educating ourselves about the disease of addiction is one of the most recovery-friendly things we can do.

5.  A Symbol of Support

Another powerful way to support recovery is to do so publicly. Every individual and organization that stands up publicly in support of recovery becomes an ally in the fight against addiction and the shame and stigma often associated with it. This public support is a key that opens the door to healing. It’s also a way we declare and hold each other accountable for our commitment to each other.

Are You Ready To Take a Stand?

We have created a recovery-friendly badge we hope you will proudly display. It incorporates symbols that represent the hope, freedom, and compassion that are integral to the recovery process. We are making this digital and printed badge available to all who wish to show their public support for recovery. If you’re interested in showing your support, simply contact us or call now!

“Recovery is an amazing journey of change and transformation. As individuals in recovery, we often find ourselves unsure of where we fit in or who will accept us without judgement. This international recovery symbol serves as an easily recognizable image that can be used to identify locations that are safe spaces for individuals in recovery.”

—Alex Mandikos, MSW, LCAS-A, LCSW-A

Know someone trying to build an atmosphere of support for recovering addicts? Please like and share this post with them. Or, if you have questions or comments, please leave them below!  We’re always looking for ways to keep the conversation about recovery going.  And of course, both Asheville and Next Step are always here—waiting to welcome you with open arms. 

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