We’ve heard the plant and soil metaphor often applied to addiction; the health of the soil is integral to the sustainable health of the plant. Which is to say, one’s environment in early recovery is critical to finding enduring sobriety. For example, Devin Reaves revealed just how important the soil proves in recovery for those exiting prison, and yet, securing housing and employment for this population proves challenging, fueling the cycle of addiction and incarceration.

I knew Reaves was a good guy when he ordered his pizza with extra sausage. I had first met Reaves after a 12-step meeting this past summer over pizza in Upper Darby, so it was additionally intriguing to see him speak to our class this past Thursday afternoon. Even as Reaves comes across as an affable and humorous man both over dinner and as a speaker, his work in recovery advocacy is entirely serious.

Resources in the current recovery model prove limited and stigmatized outside of expensive private solutions. Specific policy change is one of the key paths to affecting actionable results, as Reaves works towards legislative shifts in Narcan policy. I learned a great deal about the systemic issues–redlining, the mass incarceration from crack cocaine, and how titled the odds are against significant portions of our population facing addiction. Reaves reminds us social justice is an inherent element in the recovery movement.