September is National Recovery Month. During this month, the success stories of people who are in recovery from addiction or mental health issues are celebrated, along with treatment centers and those who work in the field of recovery. The U.S. Department of Health and SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration) have been sponsoring National Recovery Month for 26 years. Each year there is a different theme, and in 2015, the theme is “Join the Voices for Recovery: Visible, Vocal, Valuable!”
For National Recovery Month, we are all encouraged to learn more about addiction and recovery and celebrate the fact that recovery from addiction is now achievable. When people recover, there is a huge benefit, not only to the addict and his or her family, but to society in general. It’s a message that deserves to be heard and recognized.
For a long time there have been stigmas attached to addiction. Addicts, alcoholics and people with mental health issues have been thought of as morally corrupt or weak-willed. Because of these stigmas, people who need help are often afraid to reach out for it.
The goal of National Recovery Month is to remove stigma and educate the public about the gains and progress made by people in recovery. Many people have completely turned their lives around. Recovery from addiction or mental health problems deserves as much praise and recognition as recovering from diabetes, cancer or any other illness.
History of National Recovery Month
National Recovery Month started in 1989 as “Treatment Works! Month,” and originally focused on honoring those who have dedicated their lives to working in the field of addiction recovery. This is an important message, because the dedication of addiction professionals has made recovery possible for thousands of people all over the world. Nine years later, Treatment Works! Month expanded to include stories of those who successfully recovered from drug abuse and addiction, along with honoring addiction professionals. In 2011, it evolved to include behavioral health issues and became known as National Recovery Month.
How National Recovery Month Celebrates Those Who Have Recovered
Every September, thousands of treatment centers and recovery programs hold celebrations and informational sessions so that people in recovery can share their successes with others. During National Recovery Month celebrations, people are encouraged to talk about their struggles with addiction. There are many types of events in many areas. Different communities use various methods to raise interest and awareness. Some use billboard signs while others use local meetings to let people know about events. Some organize walks to promote the message of the hope of recovery.
Millions of people have transformed their lives with the help of recovery programs, and during this month these successes are honored and memorialized. Methods used to create awareness also include social media along with newspaper, radio and television messages. As messages of recovery successes are spread, those who still need recovery services gain a greater understanding of where to go and what to expect, and a message of hope is carried to families who are living with active alcoholism or addiction.
Only a small percentage of alcoholics are skid row bums, and drug addicts often appear to be completely normal. Drug addicts and alcoholics are often people you see every day in the grocery store or the office. They are just people who are suffering from an untreated illness.
When a person is struggling with addiction, he or she deserves the opportunity to overcome it. National Recovery Month works to encourage people who need services to find the courage to reach out for help without hesitation or shame.
National Recovery Month spreads the message that prevention of addiction works, and that for those who have already become addicts, there are many options for effective treatment. People can and do recover from addiction.