10 Truths My Colleagues Taught Me About Addiction and Recovery


By Karen Cook, Director of Marketing & Community Relations  

“What’s the one thing you want people to understand about recovery?”  

After nearly five years of working for one of the area’s largest nonprofit providers of mental health and substance use services, here are some of the many questions I’ve repeatedly asked my colleagues:

I am surrounded by a skilled and passionate team of psychiatrists, providers, mental health counselors, licensed clinical addiction specialists, nurses, case workers and staff members who have lived in and through recovery.  

They have taught me so much.  

10 Truths About Addiction and Recovery  

Addiction is a disease; it isn’t a weakness or lack of willpower.
Opiate use disorder is not a personal failing or choice.
Understand that someone’s addiction does not define them.
Addiction does not discriminate.
There is no shame in asking for help.
There are different paths to treatment; everyone’s recovery journey is their own.
Supporting someone in recovery takes patience.
Talking openly about mental health and substance use helps to decrease stigma.
Mental illness can affect anyone. It’s ok to seek and seek support.
Recovery is possible, and there is hope.

The biggest lesson of all: Recovery is every day. Recovery is a lifetime. 

Embracing Recovery: Finding Hope and Help in Healing 

A universal message I often hear is that you are not alone. That’s a message repeated over and over again in mental health and recovery communities: “You are not alone; help is available.” As my colleague Jennifer Whitfield says, “Silence can be toxic.”  

You Cannot Make Someone Get Treatment  

One of the most frequent questions people ask me is, “How can I make someone to get treatment?” The answer is this: you cannot make someone get help. They have to want it. They have to be ready to do the work.

Asking for help is the hardest step, but once you ask for help, there is an entire community of support, at SouthLight and beyond, ready to wrap their arms around you.  

Below are a few blogs on mental health and substance use. They are written by doctors, clinicians, counselors and Peer Support Specialists who use their own experiences to help others along their recovery journey.

Karen Cook SouthLIght Director of Communications

About Karen Cook 

Karen Cook is the Director of Communications and Community Relations at SouthLight. She has more than three decades of experience working with local healthcare organizations and nonprofits as a storyteller and brand champion.