It's that time again - Recovery Month! This is the second Recovery Month that I'm celebrating (only because I didn't know about it in September 2013.) I feel different during this year's recovery month and I'm going to share why and what recovery month means to me.
This year I've got two years and a few months of sobriety under my belt. I've done more soul-searching, read more books, written more, and became a proud member of a 12 step group. I guess last year I felt a little disconnected from the recovery movement. I only happened to stumble upon Recovery Month 2014 via a Facebook post and reading the Recovery Month website. I was not yet in a 12 step program and I wondered to myself if I could really call myself a person in "recovery." This year I am 100% sure I am a person in long-term recovery and it's not just because I'm a member of a 12 step fellowship. Over the last year I've involved myself more in the recovery community, especially online. I've shared my story on countless websites and have recently written it for a book that will be a collection of recovery stories. I'm even laying the groundwork for writing my own memoir. What!? I know. I've fully embraced recovery and it's taken me to places I never thought possible.
From this year to last year, I think I've changed from someone looking for answers and a place in the world, to a woman who stands firmly in her beliefs and yearns to do good. Recovery - I didn't really know what it meant in previous years of sobriety. This is what recovery means to me.
When I googled to find a definition of Recovery I found these two:
1. A return to a normal state of health, mind, or strength.
2. The action or process of regaining possession or control of something stolen or lost.
Wow. How perfect are they? As I become more stable in my recovery, I feel joy at the thought of being able to celebrate it during recovery month. To me recovery has literally given me my life back when I didn't know my substance use issues had hijacked it for so long. Recovery month is not only a time to celebrate how far we've come, but it's the time when addiction and recovery are brought into the limelight. Far too many people see the death and destruction involved with addiction, but many never see or hear about how amazing recovery is. If I had seen the recovery movement that I'm involved in when I was drinking, I sometimes wonder if I would have found a way out sooner.
Recovery month to me means hope. It means a new life and new ideals are possible. It's a way to get the word out about treatment options, what recovery is, and how it's a current reality for 23 million Americans. It's also a platform to break the stigma of addiction which I 100% support. Unfortunately the stigma of addiction is still very real. The general public is uneducated and believes it is a moral issue. They look down upon us because they think our issue is a choice. Although it is a choice to pick up the first drink for many, it is not a choice to continue to drink when it is no longer fun or healthy. In order to change public perception of this widespread disease, it's up to people like me to speak out. I took a risk in May of 2014 when I decided to write about my choice to get sober and how it affected my life. Not everyone supported me or understood me. And that's ok. But the amount of people who needed to hear what I had to say was astounding. The need to see people of all ages, races, and socioeconomic status who are living and thriving in recovery is higher than we think. It's time those of us in the solution let others know it is possible and not something to be ashamed of. That's why I choose to continue sharing my story, writing my blog, and living my life without shame as a person in long-term recovery. For me, Recovery Month is an amazing reminder of how far I've come in my life; how I finally feel at home, content with ME, and have hope for my future. I wouldn't be living my truth or being my authentic self if I didn't talk about what recovery has done and continues for me.
What Can You Do To Get Involved?
This year's Recovery Month theme is: Visible, vocal, and valuable. It reiterates our desperate need for those in recovery to speak out. SAMHSA has a list of Recovery Month events on their site that are going on around the country and I encourage you to attend one if you can. If there aren't any in your area, you can plan one. SAMHSA is also accepting story submissions from people in recovery. There are recovery series radio and TV shows. And of course you can promote Recovery Month like I have on your own blog, social media, or in your community.
If you are available and able to travel to Washington D.C. on October 4, 2015 I would strongly encourage you to be a part of Unite To Face Addiction, the rally on the National Mall that will break the silence around the most urgent health crisis in the U.S - addiction.
Most importantly, I urge you to dig deep and consider how addiction has affected your life and think of how your story may be able to help save a life.
Happy Recovery Month 2015!