I watched the live stream of the Recovery at the White House panel discussion today. It was a passionate exchange of perspectives and a call to action, specifically to raise awareness that addiction is a disease and that treatment works.
What struck me the most was when former National Football League Hall of Famer Cris Carter told the audience, “It has been 12,610,520 minutes since I drank!”
He counts the minutes rather than the years and months. It speaks volumes about the need for long-term recovery support. And it's clear he hasn't gotten complacent. He was the first of several panelists who began tearing up when talking about their personal stories of recovery.
Laurie Dhue, a Fox TV news anchor and recovering drug and alcohol addict, was overwhelmed by the fact that she was at the White House telling people that she “used to get up off the floor of my office and somehow anchor my way though a national broadcast. I should be dead, and I’m not because seven-and-a-half years ago, I made the best decision of my life.”
Dhue is now in long term recovery and lived with her addiction for 15 years before seeking help. Today, she openly tells her story. For example, she admitted to anchor Katie Couric in a TV interview last year that she was drunk when she met President George W. Bush. Dhue said a major element of battling the scourge of addiction is to have the courage to tell the success stories. She wants to eliminate the secrecy of it and end the idea that recovery is a dirty little secret. There’s a difference between anonymity and secrecy, she said.
“We’re at the White House,” Dhue said. “We’re not in a basement somewhere.”
A number of political leaders were present, including mental-health parity lawmaker Patrick Kennedy.
“Recovery is possible because we have proven—I mean proven—interventions,” Kennedy said. “Recovery can work, and prevention can work, and the only thing missing is our political will to make those programs available to more Americans.”