The Maryland Certification for Peer Recovery Specialists focuses on four core domains: Advocacy, Ethical Responsibility, Mentoring/Education & Recovery/Wellness. Some of the areas of focus for Advocacy as a peer include:
- Relating to the individual as an advocate.
- Advocating within systems to promote person-centered recovery/wellness support services.
- Describing the individual’s rights and responsibilities.
- Apply the principles of individual choice and self‐determination.
- Explaining importance of self-advocacy as a component of recovery/wellness.
- Recognizing and use person-centered language.
- Practicing effective communication skills.
- Advocating for multiple pathways to recovery/wellness.
- Recognizing the importance of a holistic (e.g., mind, body, spirit, environment) approach to recovery/wellness.
On January 19th, Recovery Partners Montgomery had the opportunity to participate in what is called “Big A” – this is advocacy on the policy level and often involves working with representatives at the local, state and federal level. A group of our peers traveled to Annapolis to meet with our state delegates as a part of an advocacy day focused on addiction and recovery organized by Lisa Lowe of Heroin Action Coalition & F.A.C.E. Addiction Maryland.
Here is what one of our peers and author, Rich Ameninhat Parks, shared about his experience in Annapolis:
“That was my first time having gone to Annapolis. From young, I had always dreamed of going to US Naval Officer training school.
It lead me to RTC (Recruit Training Command) Orlando, FL Naval boot camp in June 1988. The dreams had “stewed down” into just finding my way in the world as an eighteen-year-old High School graduate.
Boot camp was a great experience! I graduated eight weeks later as the Starboard Watch Section Leader of Company 178. I had been responsible for checking over the work and military barring and “took the heat” for any wrong of the Starboard side of the Company. For C178 that mostly meant I did more punitive pushups than anybody.
I loved it though. It made me physically stronger than I had ever been and mentally more focused as well. As I “tightened up” and bettered so did C178 Starboard. Just days after graduation I shipped off to Sea School training in Meridian, Mississippi and was anxiously excited to begin my Active Duty Navy career, which would follow.
What came first was Sea School, being able to drink on a daily basis at 18 as a military courtesy and the effects that would have. For me it was seemingly not a great outcome.
Though I graduated top of my class, got to choose where I’d be stationed as a reward and “landed” assignment on the USS Saratoga-dry docked in New York for cleaning and repair; I would never make it there.
Unknowingly at the time, the daily alcohol use sparked a bout with Major Depression. I was counseled by the Naval Parishioner and when I told him I had suicidal ideations, thoughts, was Generally Discharged from the Navy.
My first ever visit to Annapolis for obvious reasons rekindled those memories. 2017… A seeming lifetime later, at a junction where my Recovery is at times slow but gratefully steady, there I was advocating for Addiction support towards helping “End Addiction.”
Lisa Lowe, Founder and Director of Maryland Heroin Action Coalition and member of Family Advocates Coalition to End Addiction in Maryland (F.A.C.E. Addiction-MD), with whom I first met and worked the 2016 Lights of Hope event was the panel presenter and host for all of us who came to be heard and actively be a part of the Recovery Movement in Montgomery County and Maryland in general.
From first meeting her, I was impressed by her passion and drive to make a positive difference in the real war on drugs, for which a major weapon is Addiction Advocacy: legal, medical and societal reform; Peer Support (Parental, Experiential, Educational, Professional, Organizational, Familial, etc.); and the like.
Lisa lead us in backing several proposed bills of the panelist speaker Delegates and Advocates, along with doing the ground work for support of two pilot projects, Phoenix Rising Recovery School and School-based Curriculum for Substance Use Disorder Prevention, presented by two Parent Peers.
We did this by going to the office of Delegates to inform and educate them and their Staffers why they should give active sponsorship or co-sponsorship. It was surprising to me about how much of a verbal impact can be made along with having a healthy group of people showing unified concern for our worthy cause.
It was a fruitfully rewarding day. I learned a great deal, had a good lunch and snacks and got to see first hand a major importance of going to Annapolis”.
We look forward to returning to Annapolis next year and to continuing our “Big A” and “Little A” Advocacy throughout the year as we learn and grow together and work with peers in our community.
Learn more about what’s happening in Maryland on a policy level and how you can be support advocacy for addiction and mental health recovery in Maryland by visiting http://www.heroinactioncoalition.com or www.namimaryland.org.