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The Sober Experience in Diverse Communities


The Sober Experience in Diverse Communities

Recovery from addiction is a challenging journey for anyone, but for individuals from diverse communities, it can come with unique obstacles. In this episode of The Recovered Life Show delves into these complexities through an enlightening conversation between host Damon Frank and guest Jessica Duenes. The discussion explores how recovery systems often fail to accommodate the cultural nuances and experiences of people from diverse backgrounds.

The Traditional Recovery System: Room for Improvement

The traditional recovery system is usually set up with a one-size-fits-all approach. However, this fails to consider the unique cultural nuances and lived experiences of people from diverse communities. Jessica Duenes, a person of color who has navigated the recovery journey herself, shares her experiences in a predominantly white recovery space. She notes the noticeable lack of representation and the dismissal of race and ethnicity-related issues as ‘outside issues.’

Jessica explains, “Sometimes things have to do with race and ethnicity; they’re just not an outside issue because you can’t remove your identity.” This observation is a significant criticism of the traditional recovery system, which often fails to consider the whole person and their experiences.

The Importance of Representation and Inclusion

One of the central themes of the podcast is the importance of creating safe, inclusive spaces in the recovery community where individuals can see themselves represented and their experiences acknowledged. When individuals don’t feel seen, heard, or understood, it can create a barrier to their recovery process.

Jessica notes, “When you don’t see yourself represented, you don’t see someone who looks like you, or you’re not allowed to feel heard and listened to and honored, there is that wall that happens, and then that becomes that barrier to the recovery piece.”

Crafting a Personal Path to Recovery

Despite the challenges, Jessica shares how she was able to craft her own path to recovery. She spoke openly about her struggles, leveraged the internet to find people who were undergoing similar experiences, sought therapy from a professional who understood her cultural background and combatted the stigma attached to recovery.

Using Instagram, she connected with others by introducing herself and sharing her sober journey. She believes that individuals must trust themselves more and take a stance against the stigma surrounding recovery. She says, “We need to start saying, ‘F that stigma about like I need to do this for myself to heal.'”

The Role of Recovery Coaching

The podcast also touched upon the role of recovery coaches who provide customized, holistic plans for individuals rather than offering a one-size-fits-all solution. This approach is fundamentally different from traditional 12-step programs or sponsor relationships. The recovery coach works closely with the individual, understanding their life goals and barriers to achieving them, and collaborates to create strategies to overcome these hurdles.

Inclusivity and the Future of Recovery

Damon and Jessica conclude their discussion by emphasizing the importance of inclusivity in the recovery space. Even those who do not come from diverse communities can be of service by understanding the unique challenges faced by those who do.

Jessica highlights that asking about and genuinely listening to others’ experiences can go a long way in making recovery spaces more inclusive. Ultimately, blending all these experiences enriches the recovery journey for everyone involved.

The conversation between Damon Frank and Jessica Duenes underscores the need for a more inclusive, culturally sensitive approach to recovery. By acknowledging and addressing the unique challenges individuals from diverse communities face, we can make the journey to recovery more accessible and successful for all.

Initiatives to Improve Inclusivity in Recovery Spaces

The podcast makes it clear that much work must be done to improve inclusivity and representation in recovery spaces. However, it also offers hope by highlighting some initiatives that are already underway. Jessica discusses several organizations that are working towards providing culturally sensitive recovery programs.

These organizations are making strides in understanding the intersection of substance use disorders and cultural identity, and they’re tailoring their services accordingly. They’re also focusing on educating their staff to be more aware of cultural nuances and biases, ultimately creating safer, more understanding environments for individuals seeking help.

Taking Responsibility as Individuals

Despite progress, Damon and Jessica emphasize that creating more inclusive recovery spaces is not just the responsibility of organizations; individuals also play a critical role. They encourage listeners to be more aware of their biases and to make conscious efforts to understand and respect the experiences of others.

They underscore the importance of active listening, respect, and empathy in conversations with individuals from different cultural backgrounds. These simple actions can create a more welcoming and supportive environment for everyone involved in the recovery journey.

Empowering Individuals on their Recovery Journeys

The conversation also highlights the importance of empowering individuals on their recovery journeys. Jessica’s personal journey serves as a powerful testament to this. Despite facing numerous challenges due to the lack of representation and understanding in traditional recovery spaces, Jessica was able to find her path to recovery.

By sharing her experiences openly and connecting with others going through similar struggles, Jessica created a support system that understood and respected her unique experiences. Her story is a powerful reminder of the strength and resilience of individuals navigating the recovery journey, even when the system is not designed to support them.

The Power of Storytelling in Recovery

The podcast underscores the power of storytelling in the recovery journey. Through sharing her story, Jessica not only found support and understanding, but she also empowered others to do the same. This creates a ripple effect, breaking down the walls of stigma and isolation that many individuals face in their recovery journey.

Jessica’s courage in sharing her story and Damon’s willingness to provide a platform for diverse voices are powerful examples of how storytelling can foster understanding, empathy, and inclusivity.


This episode explores the unique challenges individuals from diverse communities face in the recovery journey. It underscores the need for more representation, understanding, and inclusivity in recovery spaces.

Through Jessica’s personal journey and the insights shared by Damon and Jessica, the podcast provides a blueprint for how individuals and organizations can work towards creating more inclusive recovery spaces.

By acknowledging and addressing the unique experiences and challenges of individuals from diverse communities, the recovery journey can become a more empowering and successful experience for everyone involved.

This podcast serves as a reminder that recovery is a personal journey, and one size does not fit all. By listening to and understanding the unique experiences of others, we can all play a part in creating a more inclusive and supportive recovery community.

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