written by Merlyn Karst
No, this is not a column written for publication by a financial journal. It is, however, intended to address another form of capital investment. It is about the importance of accrual of recovery capital in overcoming addiction to alcohol and other drugs. It is an investment that pays big dividends. To me, accrued recovery capital is retained in heart and mind and is readily available for withdrawal for the benefit of the individual and others. Following is some insight to what that means. Alcoholism, with other drug addictions, has long been recognized as a disease of mind and body. It is now recognized as a mental health issue and a substance use disorder (SUD). SUD is negatively progressive, leading to pain, misery, and death. Recovery is positively progressive, leading to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
I note that mental health journals have long supported the recovery approach that emphasizes and supports a person’s potential for recovery. Recovery is seen in this journey as personal. It is one that may involve developing hope, a secure base and sense of empowerment, social inclusion, coping skills, self-supportive relationships and meaning. The growing emphasis and support for trained recovery coaches and peer and recovery support services will assist the individual to pursue and accrue recovery capital. Incidentally, we can’t forget the importance of prevention education, focused on the youth. Through family and community involvement and attention beyond financial needs, contributions will be made to virtual long-term health savings accounts that benefit society as a whole.
In a recent blog, Bill White, pioneer and on-going author in the recovery movement, said: “There is a difference between the prevention of illness and the promotion, achievement, and transcendence of wellness.” He also wrote about a shift to the positives in Recovery Management (RM) and to me it supported this emphasis on accruing recovery capital and enjoying the recovery dividends. I was reminded of a song that suggested we accentuate the positive, eliminate the negative, and don’t mess with what may be between.
White further says: “ The RM shift might be cast as ‘recovering from’ to ‘recovering to’ with the potential for a process of discovery that transcends the recovery experience—a journey traversing from, to, and beyond. The prepositions here are important. We should build on what has been learned within relapse prevention research and practice while focusing on what makes us come alive rather than on what we most fear. At its most practical level, RP (Relapse Prevention) [sic] and RM are distinguished by a focus on what is not wanted versus what is desired, e.g., debt counseling versus wealth management, disease management (symptom suppression) versus recovery management (facilitation of healing and wholeness), marriage counseling versus marriage enrichment, a focus on correcting defects of character versus expanding character assets, interests, and social contributions. RP might be thought of as “vulnerability (demon) management”; RM might be thought of as “potential management” (e.g., the cultivation and management of a pleasurable, engaged, meaningful, and contributing life).”
Millions in the nation have enjoyed the gains from investment in the stock market. We would hope it is recognized that pension funds, 401Ks, insurance, and annuity accounts have benefited. Twenty three million plus are experiencing long-term recovery and the benefits of accumulated recovery capital. In general, the social and economic benefits of investment in recovery from addiction and accumulation of recovery capital is almost immeasurable, but it is huge. There are enormous costs involved in natural disasters and a recent report suggests our human disaster that is the opiate crisis may cost over $500 billion. This includes loss of productivity, always a factor for employers who have employees with health issues as a result of alcohol, tobacco, and other drug use. Human capital can grow through attention to supporting those who seek to gain recovery from addiction and related health issues. Growing recovery capital increases their economic and social value to the employer and the community.