Dear Collegiate Recovery Community,

In a time of uncertainty across the nation, many of us are attending to a personal struggle at home, the fight against addiction. As the nation is under siege due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there are growing rates of drug overdoses across the globe. Students that are part of collegiate recovery communities (CRCs) are coming together (virtually) in these dire times to provide vital support, community, and solidarity. Despite organizational obstacles, CRCs have been resilient in the face of campus closures, lockdowns, and quarantines to ensure that students still have access to the vital services provided by their collegiate recovery programs.

Over the last few days many witnessed individuals feel emboldened to attack institutions of democracy and attempt instill terror in the lives of Americans attempting to block the certification of Joe Biden as our future president of the United States. As a recovery community we can understand the importance of having strong democratic institutions and leadership that can empower our already marginalized communities. The histories of overt criminalization, police violence/harassment, and mass incarceration (of mainly Black and Indigenous drug users) all speak to the need for strong democratic institutions that fight for evidence-based medicine, health equity, and social justice.

As ARHE’s Justice & Equity Fellow I feel a responsibility to speak up about incidents which occurred on Wednesday at the Capitol Building in Washington D.C. and speak to ARHE’s commitments social justice, equity, and inclusion. In a statement released by ARHE in response to racial justice uprisings across the globe in 2020, we articulated that our personal work in recovery, “runs parallel to our sustained efforts to dismantle systemic racism within ARHE and other organization we represent.” We noted that each day is a call to action, and during this solemn week for US democracy we encourage members to stand by the institutions of freedom and democracy that will allow us to continue our transformative work for healthier and more just futures for students in recovery from all sorts of diverse communities. ARHE is committed to listening to feedback from those impacted by systems of oppression, and individuals and organizations committed to their own anti-racism work. Across the nation we are listening as social justice organizations, activists, politicians, and community leaders all speak out against the violent insurrection in the capitol that left several dead, many injured, and a country on edge.

During these unprecedented times we encourage our students and members to practice self-care, check-in with your colleagues and loved ones, and protect your recovery in the face of these extreme realities. Over the past year we have all come together in radical ways to support our communities. We affirm the need for strong institutions of democracy and elections free of violence or intimidation. While the history of people who use drugs and people in recovery with the criminal justice and US political systems has been fraught with systemic racism, colonial erasure, and cisheteropatriarchal norms, we acknowledge that a free and democratic government allows for us to engage in transformative justice and to facilitate change.

Dharma Leria Mirza
ARHE Justice & Equity Fellow 2020-21

Image Source:
Reuters. (2021, January 07). [Capitol Protest Image]. Retrieved January 11, 2021, from: