September is Recovery Month, an observance that puts the spotlight on the achievements of those reclaiming their lives with long-term recovery.
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) holds this month-long national observance to help Americans understand how treatment and mental health services can help individuals with a mental health problem or substance abuse disorder lead healthy, rewarding lives. The event provides an opportunity for people in recovery, their families, and treatment professionals to tell personal stories, share information, and celebrate recovery in the same way the National High Blood Pressure Education Month each May highlights the success of those overcoming hypertension and National Diabetes Day draws attention to that condition each November. Observations like these reinforce positive messages about prevention, treatment and, most importantly, recovery.
The event also honors the treatment professionals and recovery service providers making this recovery possible. Recovery-oriented care and recovery support systems help those with mental health or substance abuse disorders manage their condition, but family members and professionals who provide these essential services rarely get the recognition they deserve. Recovery Month is an opportunity to applaud these individuals for the work that they do.
Bringing Visibility to Recovery
Recovery has transformed millions of American lives, yet most successes go unnoticed by the general population. Recovery Month provides a vehicle for those in recovery to tell their stories and an opportunity for people still struggling with substance abuse to hear stories of hope and recovery. The month-long observance also shines a spotlight on family members and treatment professionals who provide essential support and services in the recovery process.
Bringing visibility to substance abuse and recovery is essential for good outcomes throughout the community. Policies and laws help those affected by drugs or alcohol gain access to treatment, health, wellness, and community engagement resources essential to recovery. Enlightened communities organize and mobilize to address policies, practices, and perceptions of people with substance abuse disorders in ways that facilitate treatment and support. Increasing awareness of recovery improves individual, family, and community access to quality, effective care.
Tens of thousands of prevention, treatment, and recovery programs and facilities celebrate National Recovery Month every September. People in recovery share their success stories alongside their friends, colleagues, and neighbors. These discussions increase awareness and provide a greater understanding of mental and substance abuse disorders.
Recovery Month 2016: Join the Voices for Recovery: Our Families, Our Stories, Our Recovery!
Recovery Month is now in its 27th year. Each year has a different theme. Early themes focused on talking about addiction treatment in terms of investments for community and business success. These themes then began focusing on giving voice to people in recovery and to the people who support them.
The theme for 2016 is Join the Voices for Recovery: Our Families, Our Stories, Our Recovery! This theme highlights the value of family support. It also invites those in recovery and their families to share personal stories.
This year, the event highlights:
- The importance of mental health to overall health
- Prevention works
- Treatment is effective
- People can – and do – recover
Behavioral and mental health are important to overall health in that they strengthen and support a person’s ability to have healthy relationships and make good life choices that lead to physical health and overall well-being, so you do not have to take drugs or consume alcohol to feel good. Behavioral and mental health also help you cope with the natural stresses of life that might otherwise lead to substance abuse. Good mental health also helps you discover and reach your potential.
National Recovery Month helps people become aware that prevention works and that treatment is effective. More than 23 million adults in the United States are currently in recovery from drug or alcohol problems, according to a survey performed by the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids and The New York State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services (OASAS). This means 10 percent of the population became drug- or alcohol-free with the help of trained professionals and support from friends, family, and the community.
History of Recovery Month
Recovery Month began in 1989 as “Treatment Works! Month,” which honored the work of professionals providing treatment for substance use. The observance expanded in 1998 to celebrate the accomplishments of individuals in recovery, changing its name to National Alcohol and Drug Addiction Recovery Month. Evolving again in 2011, the observance widened its scope to include all aspects of behavioral health and was renamed National Recovery Month, or simply Recovery Month.
Recovery Month’s Planning Partnership includes more than 200 federal, state, and local government entities working in conjunction with nonprofit organizations and associations affiliated with the prevention, treatment, and recovery of substance abuse and mental health disorders.
Recovery Month has won several awards for its efforts and outreach materials. It won AVA Awards, which honors excellence in communication, three years in a row. Recovery Month won Bronze Anvil Awards, given by the Public Relations Society of America, in 2011 and 2012. Other organizations honored Recovery Month over the years, such as the eHealthcare Leadership Award that recognizes the best health care organization websites, the international competition Hermes Creative Awards, and the Interactive Media Awards.
Participate in Recovery Month
Individuals in recovery, their friends and family, and the professionals who make recovery happen can support and promote Recovery Month in a number of ways. The Recovery Month Toolkit provides tips and resources for planning events, distributing information, and promoting recovery efforts in local communities. Individuals and organizations can add their event, along with photos, logos, and flyers to the Recovery Month Events Calendar, which makes it easy for people to find events in specific areas. Pre-made banners, logos, flyers, and repurposed public service announcements make advertising Recovery Month events easy.
It is important that individuals in recovery celebrate their successes and share their stories. Listening to these stories can help others understand treatment, how it works, for whom, and why. Unfortunately, most success stories go unnoticed by the general population. Recovery Month gives a voice to people in recovery, their families, and the treatment professionals that make recovery possible.
Hear one man's story of hope and recovery from a suicide attempt.