This year marks the 30th anniversary of National Recovery Month, sponsored by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). Recovery Month is observed every September to raise national awareness about addiction and mental health treatment. It is a time to celebrate the millions of Americans in recovery who are enjoying healthy and fulfilling lives.
Recovery Month helps to reduce stigma about substance use disorders and mental illness by educating people about treatment services available across the United States. These include the promotion of the latest evidence-based treatment models and recovery practices. Every September, tens of thousands of addiction treatment and mental health programs and facilities across the United States observe Recovery Month.
National Recovery Month is designed to remind us that mental health issues and substance use disorders affect us all, which means we are all responsible for the solution. This annual observance has the potential to help thousands of people who suffer from addiction or mental illness. It acts as a spotlight on the path to hope, health, and healing.
What Happens During National Recovery Month?
There are currently more than 200 federal, state, and local government entities (as well as nonprofit organizations) that are associated with the prevention, treatment, and recovery of mental and substance use disorders. This collective comprises the Recovery Month Planning Partners.
The Planning Partners assist SAMHSA with the development, dissemination, and promotion of Recovery Month materials. They also host independent Recovery Month events and activities in their respective communities.
Throughout September, those who are in recovery from a substance use disorder or a mental illness openly share their success stories with friends, family, neighbors, and colleagues. Mental health professionals are encouraged to educate their communities about these issues and explain that recovery is possible.
Sharing Stories of Hope, Health, and Happiness
Also, SAMHSA proudly shares the stories of those who are living a sober lifestyle or receiving treatment for illnesses like bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, anxiety, and depression.
This helps communities come together to better understand and support those who struggle with these issues. Furthermore, it encourages those who need help to come forward and get the support and services they need without shame or guilt.
Additionally, during Recovery Month, those who are dedicated to providing treatment and offering resources are recognized for their efforts to end addiction and help those with mental disorders.
This includes community members, healthcare professionals, first responders, social workers, and all those who are working toward positive change in this critical area of the American landscape.
A Brief History on Recovery Month
Recovery Month began in 1989 as “Treatment Works! Month,” which honored the work of addiction treatment professionals in the field of substance abuse prevention and treatment.
In 1998, the annual September observance evolved into “National Alcohol and Drug Addiction Recovery Month,” which expanded to include celebrating those who were in recovery from substance use disorders. In 2011, National Recovery Month (Recovery Month) was created to include recovery from mental illness.
Every year, SAMHSA chooses a new theme and area of focus for Recovery Month. This year, the theme is “Join the Voices for Recovery: Together We Are Stronger.” The goal is to emphasize the need for Americans everywhere to share resources and build networks to support those who are seeking recovery.
National Suicide Prevention Week Also Happens Every September
Suicide Prevention Week is held during September in conjunction with Recovery Month. This year, it is being recognized Sept. 8-14. World Suicide Prevention Day is on Sept. 10.
This is a time to bring awareness to suicide and promote suicide prevention. It goes without saying that this is a very dark subject most people don’t want to talk about. Unfortunately, many people avoid the topic altogether until they face the tragedy of burying someone they love who committed suicide. We need to be proactive, not reactive.
We should not be afraid to discuss this very important topic, even if it is uncomfortable. Being educated about suicide prevention can help save lives. We never know when we will have a depressed friend or addicted loved one who is contemplating suicide and needs our help.
Sadly, our country is filled with suicide loss survivors who will forever mourn the death of someone special – not to mention carry shame and guilt because they couldn’t save them. The more comfortable we become discussing this topic, the more likely we are to help those who are in a dark place get the help they need.
Some Surprising Stats About Suicide
Here are some statistics that will help you better understand why National Suicide Week is so important:
- Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States and it is 100 percent preventable
- It is the third leading cause of death among those who are in their twenties
- In 2017 (the most current data available), there were 47, 173 Americans who died by suicide
- In 2017, there were twice as many suicides than homicides
- In 2017, there were at least 1.4 million suicide attempts
- Approximately 129 Americans commit suicide every day
- The rate of suicide is highest in middle-age white men (69.7 percent of the suicide deaths in 2017 were white men)
- In 2017, men died by suicide three-and-a-half times more often than women.
- In 2017, firearms accounted for 50.57 percent of all suicide deaths.
National Suicide Prevention Week brings awareness and education to the public about the gravity of this problem in the United States.
If you are thinking about ending your own life, PLEASE contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.
Why is it so Important to Recognize and Celebrate Recovery?
You may be wondering why Recovery Month and Suicide Prevention Week are so important. The reality is that many people have this same question.
“What’s the big deal? Honoring a bunch of addicts and crazy people? It’s ridiculous!” Believe it or not, many people actually feel this way about addiction and mental health treatment. This is precisely why we need Recovery Month and Suicide Prevention Week!
There is still so much stigma that surrounds those who have a substance use disorder or a mental illness. This is unfortunate. Nobody seems to have any objection to Cancer Awareness Month, Diabetes Awareness Month, or American Heart Month. Why should Recovery Month be any Different?
Overcoming the Stigma Through a National Conversation
The fact is that addiction and mental illness are very real problems in the United States. Let’s not forget that more than 70,000 people died from a drug overdose in 2017. In fact, from 1999 to 2017, more than 700,000 people have died from a fatal overdose. And, we just told you that 129 people are dying every day from suicide.
This is tragic – and it is entirely preventable.
There are millions of people who are currently addicted or suffering because of a mental disorder. An addiction to prescription painkillers, heroin, cocaine, crystal meth, or other drugs destroys the individual and everyone who cares about them. It also devastates communities with crime, prostitution, and homelessness. Mental illness is no different. It negatively impacts individuals, their families and society at large.
Here are just a few of the many ways these issues affect you personally:
- You are not safe on the roads when addicted people are behind the wheel of a car
- Addiction increases violence and property crime – you could become a victim
- Addiction rips families apart – you might know someone who has a substance use disorder
- One in five Americans experience mental illness every year – this might be a friend or family member
- Mental illness and addiction often result in homelessness, which completely alters the landscape of the city or town you live in
- Untreated addiction and mental illness burden an already overloaded healthcare system, which affects your insurance premiums
How Your Life is Being Affected By Addiction and Mental Illness
Believe us when we tell you that in some way, you are personally affected by these issues. For this reason, we encourage you to sit up and take notice. When you make a positive impact on the number of addicted and mentally ill Americans in our country, you are helping yourself.
Plus, it is worth mentioning that we ought to have a compassionate heart towards those who need our help. We should encourage them and provide them with support – not shun them and deem them as outcasts who are unworthy of health and happiness. This happens all too often. Stop the stigma!
Addiction and mental illnesses are legitimate diseases like cancer, diabetes, and heart disease. They deserve the same attention as any other illness. And, those who receive substance use disorder or mental health treatment should be celebrated when they actively work a recovery program.
Recovery Month gives us the opportunity to have a national conversation about recovery from addiction and mental illness. This makes takes these taboo topics and brings them into the light. In the wake of the country’s opioid epidemic, there has never been a greater need for effective addiction and mental health treatment. Those who suffer with these issues should be encouraged to get help – not be shamed or made fun of.
There is a lot of Addiction in the United States – We Need a lot of Recovery
The National Institute on Drug Abuse 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (the most current data available) reported that approximately 24.6 million Americans over the age of 12 admitted to using an illicit substance in the past month.
This statistic comes from the number of people who voluntarily took the survey. Who knows what that number would be if every adult in the United States answered honestly. And, of course, there is no way to tell how many U.S. residents are currently addicted to drugs or alcohol. But, it is sure to be in the tens and tens of millions.
There are an estimated 23 million people who are currently in recovery from a substance use disorder across the United States. This means we have a long way to go when it comes to treating addicted individuals. There is WAY more addiction than there is recovery in our country.
This is yet another reason why Recovery Month is so important. SAMHSA shares the success stories of sober people all over the country to show that recovery is cool. Addiction causes nothing but pain, heartache, suffering, and illness. Recovery offers addicted people a way to learn how to live and enjoy drugs without the use of drugs.
Mental Illness and Addiction Go Hand-in-Hand
It is important to note that illnesses like bipolar, schizophrenia, anxiety, and depression are often accompanied by addiction. Those who have mental health issues often turn to drugs or alcohol to cope with painful symptoms that interrupt their daily life. When someone has a mental illness and a substance use disorder, they have what is called a co-occurring disorder, also known as a dual diagnosis.
The National Alliance for the Mentally Ill (NAMI) estimates that approximately 9.2 Americans have a co-occurring disorder.
Those who have a dual diagnosis require special treatment. It is much more complex to treat two intertwining conditions (like bipolar disorder and cocaine addiction, for example) than it is to address one or the other. Nevertheless, it is especially important that someone with a co-occurring disorder addresses both aspects of their illness. Otherwise, a relapse is almost guaranteed.
Think you might have a co-occurring disorder? Take this quiz and find out.
How Do I Get Sober?
If you are addicted to alcohol or drugs like prescription painkillers, heroin, cocaine, crystal meth, or weed (yes, marijuana addiction is a real thing) – you may be asking yourself, “How do I get sober?”
There is only one way to get sober and that is to get sober. That means making the commitment to stop using alcohol and drugs in any form.
When addicted people break the chains of denial and get help, a beautiful thing happens. It’s called recovery. Recovery is a process of healing that happens for those who are willing to get honest about their situation and do the work it takes to get well.
Just Take the First Step
The beginning stages of recovery usually involves participation in an inpatient or outpatient addiction treatment program. At a rehab, addicted people learn about the disease of addiction and how it affects them. They are equipped with the tools they need to stay sober one day at a time.
Also, clients are empowered with information about triggers, relapse prevention, and building a solid support system. This support is often found in 12-Step meetings with fellowships like Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous.
SAMSHA’s Recovery Month encourages addiction treatment for those who need help. Millions of people are enjoying a life in recovery and you can too. If you are struggling with a substance use disorder, there are resources available so that you can find freedom from addiction.
What better time to get sober than National Recovery Month? Just take that brave first step and reach out for help.
It’s time for a reality check. Here are 15 signs that your life is out of control because of drug or alcohol addiction.
The Many Benefits to Living a Sober Lifestyle
Addiction is not fun. It delivers a swift and powerful blow to all who get caught in its trap. If you are hooked on alcohol or drugs, the party ended a long time ago. Now, it is all about getting the next pill, hit, or fix at all costs – just to feel somewhat normal. You eventually arrive at a place where you realize you cannot live with or without drugs.
Addiction causes family difficulties, legal problems, financial devastation, health issues, and unemployment. It can lead to a life of crime and often results in lengthy prison sentences. And, ultimately, it can bring about an untimely death. But, you already know this. You are living it.
Are you ready to make a positive change? Need some encouragement?
Here are just a few of the many gifts you will experience when you make the brave decision to get sober:
- You will know personal freedom – no more slavery to your addiction
- You will make your family proud and restore broken relationships
- You will have the opportunity to turn your financial situation around
- No more blackouts or hangovers
- No more nasty withdrawal symptoms
- You can live life without being in constant fear of arrest
- You will become employable again and be able to perform well at your job
- You will forge new, healthy, sober relationships and create a solid support circle
- Dreams reawaken and new possibilities arise
The list of ways you will benefit from living a sober lifestyle is endless.
Sure, after years of abusing alcohol or drugs, the thought of getting sober can be scary. But, what’s really scary is the idea of spending the rest of your life trapped in the destructive cycle of addiction. And, keep in mind that an overdose death is a very real possibility – especially if you are abusing opioids like heroin or prescription pain meds.
Ready to Start Your Exciting Recovery Journey?
In honor of Recovery Month, we want to tell you that it’s time for you to put down the pipe, the pills, the needle, the bottle if you are addicted. Get sober now while you still have the chance. If you have a mental illness, there is no shame in reaching out for a helping hand. Your life will be so much better once you get your mental health back in check.
A substance use disorder never gets better on its own. It is always a downward spiral toward rock bottom. No matter how hopeless or helpless you might feel, help is available. You CAN get better. You CAN get sober. And, you ABSOLUTELY CAN enjoy a life in recovery.
If you are also struggling with a mental illness and addiction, make sure you seek out treatment centers that offer dual-diagnosis treatment. You simply must address both issues. And, the good news is, that once you get sober, your mental health issues will become more manageable. Substance abuse always makes mental health symptoms worse.
Not convinced you are addicted? Here are 8 signs that you are physically hooked on an addictive substance.
Need some motivation to get started on the road to recovery? Here are 15 successful people who are in recovery from drug and alcohol addiction.
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