National Recovery Month has been in existence since 1989. For 31 years, we’ve been celebrating not just the importance of recovery, but the importance of connection and community as well. Maintaining recovery can often take a village: a village of support and compassion from a community of family, friends, and peers who have gone through similar things as you.
It’s also a time meant to educate those outside of the recovery community. Only through educating others can we break the stigmas and stereotypes often placed upon individuals struggling with addiction and those in recovery.
To learn more about National Recovery Month, visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA website). There you can find resources, webinars, and educational tools to either teach others or learn more about National Recovery Month. Take this time to educate others on the benefits of prevention, treatment, and recovery, celebrate those in recovery, and remember that recovery is always possible.
Current Public Health Crisis
In more ways than one, we are experiencing a public health crisis due to the high volume of individuals struggling with and dying from substance use disorder. According to Dr. Francis Collins in an article on making strides to end addiction long-term, about 115 Americans lose their lives to an opioid addiction every year. Additionally, more and more individuals are experiencing serious mental illnesses, which often manifest and or heighten an already present addiction. On the opposite side of the spectrum, substance use and tendencies for some to self-medicate can lead to dependencies on various substances or behaviors.
The statistics on the number of people affected by drug use are constantly changing. The National Survey on Drug Use and Health reported that in 2016, approximately 20 million people aged 12 or older had a substance use disorder, and about 44.7 million Americans aged 18 and older experience a mental disorder. Of those adults 18 years or older, 2.6 million experience co-occurring serious mental illness and SUD. Furthermore, there is the likelihood that these numbers have increased slightly within the past few years.
What National Recovery Month Communicates to Others
For some, if addiction isn’t present in some aspect of their life, it’s easy not to think about its effect on others’ lives. With anything, it’s important to show kindness and compassion towards individuals because you truly never know what someone is going through during any given day. Everyone’s fighting some sort of battle. Unfortunately, that battle can sometimes become public for those in recovery.
In addition to educating individuals on the importance of prevention and recovery, it’s crucial to educate on addiction to help others understand that it is indeed an illness, especially in hopes of ending the stigmatization of addiction.
As National Recovery Month celebrates and educates individuals on recovery, it embodies three essential points to take away:
#1. Prevention works
#2. Treatment is effective
#3. People can and do recover
These three messages are meant to achieve one central idea: to inspire hope to the millions of individuals who have not yet found recovery, have lost loved ones to addiction, or are doubting their own recovery.
The effectiveness of National Recovery Month depends on each individual’s effort to inform and educate those in their lives. Talking with family, friends, and the individuals in your life may help them understand what you are going through a little bit better. Take the time to figure out the best way to explain the complexity of addiction to those people. Teach about the science of how addiction affects the brain or how substance use disorder may be affecting other co-occurring mental illnesses.
Sometimes a person’s personal story and their road to recovery is the most educational tool there is. Some tips that may help you to initiate some of these more difficult conversations include:
- Preparing what you’d like to say by gathering and writing down your thoughts
- Providing resources on where those in your life can learn more about addiction
- Telling those close to you where you are in your recovery, what helps you, what doesn’t, and how they can help if they feel called to help
Opening up to those in your life may not come easy to you. People often fear judgment, criticism, and misunderstanding. These feelings are all completely valid. Learning to open up to educate those people, though, can, in turn, help you with your recovery. You reinforce the importance of recovery and prevention and have the potential to broaden your support system and inspire others who are struggling to find their path to recovery.
Addiction is an illness that millions of Americans struggle with every single day. It can include alcohol addiction, substance use disorder, or addictions to other behaviors and agents. Addiction can often heighten struggles with other co-occurring mental disorders and vice versa. With September being National Recovery Month, those struggling with addiction must find their way to recovery or continue maintaining and celebrating their recovery. People sometimes forget that a successful recovery is something to be celebrated. At the Lakehouse Recovery Center, we believe in empowering our patients to take control of their lives and their recovery process. It takes a tremendous amount of effort to find your path, and while the trail can be long, every day in recovery is a day of great success. Take this month to celebrate where you are, appreciate where you’ve been, and educate others on the journey you’ve taken. To continue celebrating or start your path to recovery, call us at (877) 762-3707 today.