The Importance of National Recovery Month
September 1st marks the beginning of the 27th National Recovery Month. National Recovery Month is intended as a month to educate the American population on the benefits that substance abuse treatment and other mental health services can offer to those struggling with substance abuse problems or mental health issues. As the effort to raise awareness has progressed both socially and politically with the passing of the CARA bill in July of this year. With each passing year awareness is being raised about recovery and that it is possible and happens every day.
Started in 1989 as Treatment Works! Month as a way to acknowledge those who worked in the substance abuse treatment field the purpose and name of this nationally designated month have changed over the years. In 1998 the month was renamed Alcohol and Drug Addiction Recovery Month and its purpose was expanded to include celebrating the achievements of those in recovery. Then in 2011 the month was renamed yet again to National Recovery Month in order to encompass all the parts of the behavioral health industry.
Each year a specific theme is chosen for the month and 2016’s theme is Join The Voices For Recovery: Our Stories, Our Recovery! This theme was chosen in order to emphasize the importance of family support throughout the recovery process and participants have been encouraged to share their stories in order to show that recovery from substance abuse and mental health issues really can happen. Families of those in recovery have also been asked to share their stories in order to give hope to those who are dealing with a loved one’s substance abuse problem.
National Recovery Month’s main purpose is really to bring awareness to the multitude of mental health issues, such as substance abuse, that people suffer from in this country. All too often the wider public ignores these sorts of illnesses and a fundamental misunderstanding is prevalent within the American population. For years substance abuse issues and other mental illness were dealt with in the dark because of the stigma attached to being afflicted with one of these issues, and National Recovery Month hopes to shine a spotlight on these problems in order to remove some of this stigma.
It is currently estimated that 23 million Americans are in recovery from alcoholism or drug addiction. Which is almost 10% of the population. National Recovery Month celebrates their accomplishments and gives these usually anonymous people a platform with which to discuss their triumphs. By doing this it not only draws attention to the fact that people can and do recover from addiction, but it also helps to paint a more accurate picture of what it means to be in recovery.
When many people think of a person in recovery, they believe them to be sad and constantly wanting to drink or use, but the reality couldn’t be further from the truth. If you attend a National Recovery Month event, you will see jovial people discussing their struggles and victories, helping to break some of the stereotypes usually attributed to recovering peoples.
National Recovery Month is organized by The Planning Partners, which consists of SAMHSA, or the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration, over 300 federal, state, and local government organizations, as well as nonprofits, and other organizations that are involved in the prevention, treatment, and recovery of mental health or substance abuse issues. The Planning Partners help to disperse materials needed for National Recovery Month and work in conjunction with local partners in order to put on local events for National Recovery Month.
There are hundreds of events each year and you can find a listing of all of them on the National Recovery Month’s Event webpage. Among the events that are happening this year are recovery walks and 5ks, panels on disparity among services for minorities, events aimed at teens in recovery, yoga events, Narcan training, and pretty much anything else that you could think of that is recovery related.
National Recovery Month is also important because of the many treatment centers that are involved in its organization, which brings a greater awareness to the options that are available to people who are struggling with drug addiction or alcoholism. In the past 20 years the treatment industry has grown by leaps and bounds and letting the public know about the different treatment methods now available is important so that people can make informed decisions about their recovery.
This year’s National Recovery Month is particularly exciting because of the media attention that drug addiction has received this past year. It is no secret that silently over the past 10 years opiates have ravaged many of this country’s communities and finally in response to the growing amount of overdoses and deaths the United States Government finally took action.
This summer President Obama signed the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act into law, and this bill represents a shift in the dialogue about drug addiction in this country. President Obama addressed the nation in a video with rapper Macklemore where he discussed the need to move away from criminalizing drug addiction and move towards getting more addicts the help and education they need. This means finally offering medication assisted detoxes to prisoners and a lightening of prison sentences for drug related offenders.
Staying clean and sober for even a day is a big deal for those who are afflicted with addiction and it is a wonderful thing that we have a month every year to celebrate such accomplishments. So this month remember to take a step back and see just how far you’ve come since you’ve entered into recovery. Take a minute to reflect on the people who helped you get here and those who you’ve lost along the way. Always remembering that recovery is a gift and that you have been lucky enough to receive it.
Rose Lockinger is a passionate member of the recovery community. A rebel who found her cause, she uses blogging and social media to raise the awareness about the disease of addiction. She has visited all over North and South America. Single mom to two beautiful children she has learned parenting is without a doubt the most rewarding job in the world. Currently the Outreach Director at Stodzy Internet Marketing. You can find her on LinkedIn, Facebook, & Instagram.