In Praise of Patrons

Patrons Golden Hands.jpgThe word patron has two meanings.  A patron is one who offers material or emotional support to a person, organization or cause, and the term also embraces the roles of regular customer, guest or visitor.  On this Thanksgiving morning, I take a moment to thank my patrons.

Russ Hagen and Mark Godley of Chestnut Health Systems have for nearly three decades provided the platform for my research and writing, but the most important of that work would not have been possible without external funding.  In the early 2000s, the prospects for such funding did not look good.  The State of Illinois had just slashed funding for the Behavioral Health Recovery Management Project, which had financially supported my work with Mike Boyle and others to shift the design of addiction treatment from a model of acute intervention to a model of sustained recovery management (RM).  It seemed at that moment as if this vision of RM and recovery-oriented systems of care (ROSC) and my role in promoting them would be unsustainable, but two people altered the trajecotry of this history.  Dr. Arthur Evans, Jr., the then new Commissioner of the Philadelphia Department of Behavioral Health, invited me to collaborate with him on a recovery-focused transformation of Philadelphia’s behavioral health care system.  The resulting years of consultations provided the most intense learning experiences of my career.  Everything I have since written on RM and ROSC has been filtered through my work with Dr. Evans, Roland Lamb and so many others in that wonderful city.  Shortly after the invitation from Arthur Evans, I received an invitation from Lonnetta Albright, Director of the Great Lakes Addiction Technology Transfer Center (GLATTC), inviting me to continue my research and writing on RM and ROSC through GLATTC. That work has also continued to this day.  Whatever the value of the body of work I have created in the past decade, it would not have been possible without the financial support and the professional collaborations that accompanied these invitations.  Many other people have played important roles as mentors and collaborators in this work, including Ernie Kurtz, Mike Boyle, Mike Flaherty, Keith Humphreys, John Kelly, Tom McLellan, Mark Sanders and Lisa Mojer-Torres, but no support was more foundational and sustained than that provided by Arthur Evans and Lonnetta Albright.  Today, I thank both of them for what these decisions meant for my life and, hopefully, what they have meant for the field.

A second group of patrons on my mind this morning are my ultimate “customers”–the frontline addiction professionals, recovery advocates, and people in recovery from across the world who have always been my intended audience and the primary consumers of my writings.  Since my professional travels have ceased, you have become my connection to the world and the welcomed guests who visit me each day as you click on my website.  And yes, I do await the report each day of how many of you visited, what cities and countries you are from and what you have chosen to read. And I am thrilled when I hear from you personally that you found this or that paper of great value or that you disagreed with me on this or that point.  You are who I think of each day as I write at this desk.  You continue to be my heroes.  So on this Thanksgiving morning, thank you.