I happily stumbled upon a Facebook post last week that told me September is National Recovery Month. I clicked on the website and read about this wonderful month of awareness and immediately started promoting it. What's not to love? A whole month dedicated to raising awareness about recovery from drug and alcohol addictions and another platform to be vocal about being sober. To continue this awareness I'm going to outline what recovery month is and what it means to me.
What is Recovery Month?
2014 marks the 25th year of observing and celebrating National Recovery Month. This is the first year I've known about it and I am happy to be able to participate in and celebrate it. Recovery Month is sponsored by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and started in 1992 by government mandate. Recovery Month provides national leadership to support the federal government's goal to better the lives of families and individuals affected by substance use and mental health disorders.
SAMHSA's main message is that prevention works, treatment is effective, and people can recover from mental and substance use disorders. They work to provide access to affordable recovery services to those who are in need in order to reduce the health and social costs to our communities and country. Factors like inadequate capacity, discrimination, and limited public and private health insurance benefits play a part in the gap between the number of people who need treatment and number of people who receive it.
Recovery Month promotes the benefits of prevention, treatment, and recovery and celebrates people who have found recovery. Most of all, it spreads the positive message that behavioral health is imperative to overall health, and that people can and do recover.
How can you get involved?
Recovery month woohoo! Yeah! What can you do to help or get involved? Well first and foremost you can promote their website and share their information about recovery. This year's theme is "Speak up, Reach out." On the Recovery Month website there is an area where you can submit your personal recovery story and share it with the world. There are also Recovery Radio series and TV series that you can watch and share. If your town hasn't officially recognized September as National Recovery Month there are resources on the website to encourage your local government to do so by signing an official proclamation.
There are also Recovery Month events all over the U.S. Go here and enter in your zip code and find one to attend near you. The one that is in my county here in Southwest Florida is on September 19, when I will be flying back from Boston for a work conference. Hopefully, I'll be able to make at least some of the event!
You can also find a downloadable toolkit on the website to educate yourself and others about Recovery Month, or for resources to hand out at events and to help you plan an event.
What Recovery Month means to me
Well I'm sad I didn't know anything about Recovery Month last year or this year until last week, but I'm glad I found it. I think this movement is important, especially for me to speak out about and promote. I wish there were more events around my area to attend and I'm hoping I can make it over to the one there is around here.
This year's Recovery Month theme really hits home. Since I started my sober journey, one of my main goals has been to share my story, to let others out there know that they are not alone - that if I can stop drinking they can too. Speaking up and letting people know who you are, whether you identify as an addict, a recovering alcoholic, or as someone who has just chosen to be sober - it is not only therapeutic for your soul, it also brings to light just how many lives are affected by recovery.
Too many people hide who they really are out of shame, guilt, and fear and never get the help that they deserve. Some miss out on getting the help that could turn their life around. Let's do what we can to not let that happen. By speaking up and reaching out, we can let others know that they are not alone, that recovery is possible, and that life is out there waiting for them.
I hope I am doing my part, even though sometimes I wish I had more time to contribute to this topic and to help others. I will continue to spread the message that substance abuse and mental disorders are real and valid concerns and should be in the spotlight. It's up to us, the ones experiencing the beauty of recovery to pass on our knowledge of joy and the possibility of an amazing life to those who are still suffering. What better time to do it than Recovery Month?
Happy Recovery Month 2014! :)