September is National Recovery Month!
For twenty-five years, September has been officially recognized as Recovery month. This 30-day period is set aside to educate the public about the benefits of prevention, treatment, and recovery from addiction. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 113 people suffer fatal overdoses every day in the United States. August 31st kicks off the month of awareness with International Overdose Awareness day.
As with most months associated with a particular disease, there is an annual theme for National Recovery month; this year’s theme is “Join the Voices for Recovery: Speak Up, Reach Out.” Hundreds of National Recovery month events are planned to take place all over the country, with the intent to spread the message that addiction prevention works, that treatment is effective, and that a life in recovery is attainable. If you are an addict in recovery, National Recovery Month is a great time to spread the word about your journey to a healthy life, to inspire those who are waiting to take the first steps into a life of sobriety to join a support group, or enter drug and alcohol treatment.
National Recovery Month is overseen by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. The events sponsored by SAMHSA include concerts, symposiums, lectures, community outreach and more—all designed to increase understanding for the diseases of addiction and mental illness, as well as to decrease the stigmas attached to these disorders of the mind. The site for the month-long event includes a tool to help you to see what events are going on in your state; if you’re not able to find one close to you, many events are also going on online that you can participate in.
According to SAMHSA’s National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 23.5 million persons aged 12 or older needed treatment for an illicit drug or alcohol abuse problem in 2009—amounting to 9.3% of all people in that age range. Of these, only 2.6 million received it at a specialty facility (drug and alcohol treatment center). Nearly 2.1 million hospital Emergency Department visits in 2009 were due to drug abuse; while rates of addiction to opiate drugs and opioid drugs (heroin and pain killers like hydrocodone) are on the rise, alcohol remains the most commonly abused drug; recent studies have shown that almost 53% of adults in the US have reported that one or more of their close relatives has a drinking problem. Almost 50,000 cases of alcohol overdose are reported every year, and in 2009 an estimated 30.2 million people aged 12 or over reported driving under the influence of alcohol in the previous twelve months.
The point of National Recovery Month is to get the word out that treatment is available and that it works. While not all treatment programs will work for all people, starting the journey to become sober and healthy is a huge benefit in your life. Addictions of all kinds, whether to drugs or alcohol, eating, gambling, shopping, or sex, are dangerous and self-destructive in nature. The most important thing that any addict can understand is that not only is treatment worthwhile, but it’s readily available. There are thousands of drug and alcohol treatment facilities across the United States, along with support groups and outpatient programs to help you to move forward from your addiction and into a healthier and happier life.