September is National Recovery Month

Phillip Lahey

By: Phil Lahey – September 2013

I started writing a letter to the editor stating that September is National Recovery Month. Then Tom Duggan asked me to write a column instead. So here goes.

Every September is recovery month. So what does that mean? Many of us that have lived the life of addiction, either as an addict or as a family member, takes that extra effort to make people aware of a disease that claims 100,000 lives a year.

So many people have the wrong idea about addicts until someone they know and love falls victim to addiction. How do I know this? Simple, I was that person! I’m embarrassed to say that I thought all addicts were low life scum. When I found out that my daughter, Colleen, was a heroin addict, is when I learned the hard way. It can happen to anyone!

Unfortunately, we hear so much through the media when something bad happens. It seems like it’s not a popular news story when someone is winning their battle against addiction.

During the month of September, we try to bring awareness to people that, recovery is possible. So far my involvement has been, writing this column, writing letters to various editors and I’ve asked my City Council and State Reps to proclaim September as recovery month.

September has a special meaning to me. My daughter, Colleen will celebrate 5 years clean and sober on Labor Day weekend. Unless you are the parents of an addict, you have no idea of the joy that is in my heart. Colleen and I are very grateful for the way things are now. We are dedicated to giving back, not just in September, but all year long.

When I completed my term as a City Councilor, Colleen and I decided to put all our efforts into educating people and bringing awareness about addiction.

Methuen TV was kind enough to let us host a show about addiction called “The Empty Chair”. We have been doing monthly episodes for over a year now. If you are not a Methuen resident, we are also on youtube. You can view our show by searching THEEMPYCHAIRSHOW (one word). We’ve also done an interview for a local newspaper that was well received.

Colleen spoke to a 7th grade class about her journey with addiction. She also speaks at various detox centers, jails and places of recovery. Through her experience Colleen has been successful when sponsoring other recovering addicts. Our goal is to let people know there is hope for recovery.

With the help of my wife Fran, we also run a support group called “The Circle of Hope” This group is for family members and loved ones of an addict. We provide support by helping to locate places of recovery, so when the addict is ready, we can point them in the right direction.

We provide a list of resources that may be helpful. We offer advice without judgment because we understand your pain, fear and shame.

Not ready for a group, give me a call. I’ll tell you more about our group, answer any questions or just let you vent out your frustrations. Please call 978-557-9235 and ask for Phil.

There is hope for the addict and also for their loved ones.