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Monday, May 7, 2012

Recovery Carriers - William L. White

In a series of recent essays, I discussed the proposition “Recovery is contagious.” The central points in these essays were that:

 Addiction recovery is often caught before it is chosen—meaning that one can get swept up in recovery in a process as unplanned and as irrational as how one got caught up in addiction.

 Long-term addiction recovery involves conscious (voluntary) choices, but that may not be how recovery begins.

 Catching recovery means that one can initiate recovery even while actively resisting it—consciously trying to hustle your way through treatment or peer mutual aid to get people off your back only to “catch recovery” in spite of yourself.

 Catching recovery involves exposure to people in recovery with whom one can identify and who can become catalysts of personal change.

 Even what appear to be sudden, dramatic recovery conversion experiences are often set in motion by exposure to an agent of recovery: Jerry McAuley’s (founder of the urban mission movement in the U.S.) religious conversion in prison was preceded by contact with another person in recovery (the prize fighter Orville “Awful” Gardner); AA co-founder Bill W.’s conversion-like experience in Towns Hospital was preceded by a visit from a newly sobered Ebby T.; Malcolm X’s conversion in a prison cell to the Nation of Islam was preceded by communications from his brother and sister who were already members of the Nation.)

 Recovery initiation is as much an interpersonal process as an intrapersonal process; increasing family and community recovery capital can have as much influence on recovery initiation as increasing intrapersonal recovery capital.

 A central strategy for increasing community recovery capital is increasing the density of recovery carriers.

- The density of recovery carriers exerts a profound influence on community recovery prevalence (the total number of people in recovery within a defined catchment area) and community recovery incidence (the number of people initiating recovery within a defined catchment area and a defined period of time—usually the past 12 months).

 Communities can take action to strategically increase the density of recovery carriers within the whole community or in particular neighborhoods.
Since the posting and publication of these essays, I have received many questions about this role of recovery carrier. The primary purpose of this essay is to describe this recovery carrier role in greater detail.
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