Disaster Relief and People in Recovery (Michael Galipeau with Commentaries from Ryan Hampton and Bill White)

Michael Galipeau recently shared with me his experience of being denied access to disaster relief for his business due to past drug offenses during his addiction years. I encouraged Michael to write an essay on his experience as it reflected what I had heard from others in long-term recovery whose businesses have been disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic. After reading Michael’s detailed account, I asked Michael’s permission to share it with accompanying commentaries from Ryan Hampton and myself. Below are some excerpts from Michael’s essay and the related commentaries.

Excerpt from Michael Galipeau: “The loss of such businesses for our community would cripple our ability to meet the increased need for recovery support during and post-COVID-19. In addition to exacerbating the losses experienced by our community, families, and loved ones, we will find ourselves even more vulnerable and slow to replace these essential services. In light of the future financial insecurity of government funding, there are many difficult conversations ahead about budget cuts—budget cuts that have costs in human life. Prohibiting support for small business owners in recovery is poor public policy—especially as many offender programs offer small business startups as a preferred option for seeking gainful employment upon release from prison. Individuals who now must look elsewhere for financial opportunities in a world where opportunities and funding are increasingly scarce. Businesses, like mine, that are essential for the supportive infrastructure of our community.”

Excerpt from Ryan Hampton Commentary: “Michael Galipeau is a person in long-term recovery, a mentor, and a solid community partner. He’s given years to helping others, trained first responders, and supported thousands of people as they walked the long road back from addiction. Yet he, like many other people, is denied the basic support guaranteed to American business and non-profit operators in a national disaster. The federal government is discriminating against the recovery community by refusing to support many of our grassroots organizations and small businesses. They condemn us to death when they remove the financial support that other businesses—including businesses that sell potentially addictive substances to Americans—are freely given.”

Excerpt from Bill White Commentary: “Unsuccessful addiction recovery attempts have as much to do with these stigma-influenced environmental obstacles as they do intrapersonal obstacles to recovery. How can one achieve recovery when denied access to community spaces in which people in recovery are welcomed and valued? Grassroots recovery advocacy organizations have attempted to address the issue of social stigma for more than two decades, and notable efforts have been made to put public faces and voices to the recovery experience. Michael Galipeau’s experience is one more call to go beyond attitudinal change to dismantle the machinery through which addiction-related stigma has been institutionalized for more than a century. It is time to dismantle the scaffolding through which stigma produces specific arenas of discrimination.”

Those wishing to read the full account of Michael’s experience and Ryan and Bill’s full commentaries may click HERE.