The U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration (SAMSHA) is piloting a new online feedback forum as part of its continuing efforts to increase opportunities for public engagement, collaboration and participation. The SAMSHA discussion forum web page is organized around a large search box for finding existing topic entries. The site also gives users up to 10 votes for endorsing existing entries. The online vote rates entries as top ideas and hot ideas.
I applaud SAMSHA for piloting online feedback forums, specifically their recent Internet discussion concerning the 2005 Working Definition of Recovery and 12 Guiding Principles. This August over 350 people contributed their ideas and comments on the definition of recovery. (Complete listing of the 363 responses is online: http://feedback.samhsa.gov/forums/129063-closed-definition-of-recovery)
As a sexual health author, trainer and psychotherapist I am interested in the integration of sexuality within many areas of mental health. In my 2009 book Sexual Health in Drug and Alcohol Treatment: Group Facilitator's Manual I commented on the significance of SAMHSA's 12 guiding principles of recovery omitting any reference to human sexuality, sexual health or sexual behavior. I believed then, as I do now, that the absence of sexual health in the Working Definition of Recovery and 12 Guiding Principles of Recovery reflects a broader lack of acknowledging or discussing sexuality, sexual health and sex/drug-linked relapse prevention within current treatment and recovery.
So it was pretty typical for me to enter the term "sexual health" in the Give us your feedback search box. I was curious if other contributors noticed the unfortunate omission of sex/drug-linked patterns of addiction in the Definition of Recovery.
Much like the SAMHSA document, my search found no postings addressing sex, sexuality or sexual health in the then over 300 entries. I again studied the 12 Guiding Principles looking for a good home for two words: "sexual health." The fourth principle, Recovery is holistic, looked like a good recommendation. I typed my feedback with enthusiasm and pressed send. I was happy to be having a sexual health conversation not only with SAMSHA but also with the hundreds of site participants and readers. As a sexual health advocate, I felt grateful and inspired.
Seconds later I saw this headline at the top of the Definition of Recovery Forum.