My Utah Experience

Recently I was privileged to go to the Utah School of Alcoholism and other Addictions.  Here I found over 800 people in the various healing professions all bound together for one goal–to aid those affected by the disease of addiction to recover.  Social workers, therapists, counselors, physicians, pharmacists, and yes, dental folks were all in attendance.  The speakers and coordinators were all top notch (dare I say “top shelf?”)  University researchers, authors of various texts and studies, all presented the latest research on the medical, social and emotional aspects of the disease.

The setting was the Great Salt Lake basin of Salt Lake City.  Nestled into the mountains with nearby world class ski resorts, Robert Redford’s Sundance, and the home of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, it seems that this may be a natural place for people to come to experience a break from their routines and daily lives: a place to free the mind and experience creativity, beauty, nature and freedom from the cares and pressures of ordinary life.  Even the military goes there to test their equipment in the harshest of salt environments, to ensure it will stand up when needed in the protection of our country and freedom.  We are engaged in our own deadly fight–to recover from our disease and to help others recover.

So this seems like a perfect place to loosen the mind from every day cares, and to open it to learn and grow and to help achieve our goals.

One thing that struck me was the passion of the leaders and organizers.  In fact, passion to help those affected by the disease was an undercurrent throughout the attendees.  I don’t often attend a dental CE course and feel the emotional involvement that could bring tears to my eyes for the suffering gingivitis patient, but this week left me that way more than once.  For these were not just more “government regulators” trying to set rules and controls for me, making me comply, they were people truly trying to save lives, trying to return joy and meaning and purpose to broken lives and families.  They are people with a true passion for helping and healing.  Many of these giants in the field of addiction and recovery, who have long labored in this field, still show a true passion to study and understand the disease and all its components, and to learn to put people like me back on the right track. There was laughter, there was love, there was bonding together as we are part of something much larger than ourselves.  There was fine food and friendship.

Should you get the chance to go one day, just pack your casual clothes, but pack lightweight at that.  The dry heat, lacking the humidity of our southern climate, is still hot (don’t you bake a turkey in dry heat?).  They even have a University Bookstore sale every year that you can buy the school’s attire, or at the various resorts around the area.  But leave your cares back home, open your mind and soak in the spirit of life and caring.  Feel the passion and spirit, and translate that into the everyday life back home to recover and aid others in recovery.