national recovery month

National Recovery Month: Breaking Stigmas and Helping People

National Recovery Month occurs every September, and it educates Americans about substance use disorder and mental health. In 1989, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) started the campaign. It has become a critical resource for individuals seeking help by providing support, understanding, and resources. 

The monthlong events aim to break stigmas and significant obstacles for those needing assistance. It also honors the healthcare professionals and recognizes the efforts of the patients. With various nationwide activities, it raises awareness about the realities of recovery and celebrates personal journeys. Read further to learn more about this national observance.

Featured in: September - Awareness Months, Days & Observances

History and Background of National Recovery Month

people from different races
Photo by Naassom Azevedo on Unsplash

The SAMHSA saw the need for a platform to discuss substance use and its treatment. In 1989, they introduced "Treatment Works! Month,” which acknowledged the efforts of professionals treating substance use. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services supported this program.

Nine years later, “Treatment Works! Month” included the people who had overcome drug addiction, prompting the change to “National Alcohol and Drug Addiction Recovery Month.” It also began to highlight personal victories against addiction.

Then, in 2011, the initiative became "National Recovery Month," reflecting a greater understanding of the complex realities of behavioral health. It also recognized the capacity of individuals to overcome substance abuse disorders, among others. 

Today, SAMHSA, with over 300 partners, organizes the annual events and provides valuable resources for everyone to join in on the cause.

The Cause and Its Challenges

This national observance draws attention to mental health and substance use disorder, which affect a significant portion of the public. Reports say only 4.1 million people received any substance use treatment out of 43.71 million people 12 years or older who need it1. These statistics show the urgency for accessible, affordable treatment and recovery services. 

People fail to receive treatment because of the social stigma2. The three primary reasons why individuals suffering from substance use disorders often don't receive treatment services include not being ready to stop (36.7%), inability to afford the cost of treatment due to lack of healthcare coverage (24.9%), and uncertainty about where to seek for treatment help (17.9%),

Furthermore, overlapping mental conditions add a wrinkle to the situation. The same report summarizes that those with mental illness in the past year are more likely to abuse a substance than those not suffering from it3.

This shows how tackling both substance abuse and mental health is vital to successful sobriety. 

Related Read: World Mental Health Day

Efforts and Initiatives

A young woman hugs a family member with text reading, “Families and family-run organizations are vital components of recovery-oriented service systems. A logo in the bottom right corner reads, “National Recovery Month. Hope is Real. Recovery is Real.”
Photo by SAMHSA

SAMHSA is working diligently to make treatment accessible to everyone, mainly through its comprehensive website. Anyone in need can navigate the site to find resources for substance abuse and mental health issues with just a few clicks.

Complementing their online efforts, SAMHSA's free National Helpline is just a call away. Available 24/7, it provides confidential assistance, including referrals to local treatment facilities, providing the necessary support at any point of a person’s journey to recovery.

Lastly, SAMHSA reinforces the fight against substance abuse by administering various grants. These funds are specifically aimed at enhancing services nationwide, from increasing treatment capacity to ramping up infrastructure. So, help is not only readily available but also constantly improving.

How to Get Involved and Support National Recovery Month

A multiracial circle of hands surrounding text that says, “Connections support wellness and recovery.” Below the text is a logo that reads, “National Recovery Month. Hope is real. Recovery is real.”
Photo by SAMHSA

Addressing substance disorder needs concerted efforts. National Recovery Month is the time to raise awareness and eliminate stigmas. To celebrate, we can:

1. Use social media to spread awareness about the cause, especially the available recovery support services. And remember to add the hashtags to your content. Here are the recommendations by SAMHSA: #RecoveryMonth,#RecoveryIsPossible, #Recovery4ALL

2. Offer educational materials about recovery practices in your community.

3. Find local or virtual recovery month events to participate in.

4. Donate to or volunteer in organizations that support recovery.

5. Support local businesses that hire individuals in recovery, promoting economic stability and independence.

6. Advocate for policies promoting comprehensive recovery programs.

7. Finally, recognize every recovery champion and thank every recovery health professional you know.

Conclusion

Wrapping it up, National Recovery Month celebrates healing from mental and substance use disorders and promotes awareness of these issues. The event aims to replace negative stigma with empathy. It also emphasizes the value of collective support until they become a member of a proud recovery community. 

Every September, we are reminded of our responsibility to uplift those struggling with hidden battles. Recovery in all its forms is possible, and every effort counts. So make a difference because every person deserves a healthy and rewarding life.

National Recovery Month FAQs

1. What is National Recovery Month?

National Recovery Month is an annual observance held in September to raise awareness about mental health and substance use disorders, celebrate individuals in recovery, and promote the importance of seeking help and support.

2. Who organizes National Recovery Month?

National Recovery Month is organized by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), which is a branch of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

3. What is the theme for National Recovery Month this year?

The theme for National Recovery Month changes every year. The theme for this year is ""Recovery is for Everyone: Every Person, Every Family, Every Community.""

4. How can I get involved in National Recovery Month?

You can get involved in National Recovery Month by participating in local events and activities, organizing awareness campaigns, sharing personal stories of recovery, and supporting organizations that provide resources and support for individuals in recovery.

5. How can I support someone in recovery?

You can support someone in recovery by offering understanding and encouragement and avoiding judgment or stigma. Moreover, you can educate yourself about their condition and provide a listening ear or connect them with professional help if needed.

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1

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2022). Key substance use and mental health indicators in the United States: Results from the 2021 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (HHS Publication No. PEP22-07-01-005, NSDUH Series H-57). Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

2

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2022). Key substance use and mental health indicators in the United States: Results from the 2021 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (HHS Publication No. PEP22-07-01-005, NSDUH Series H-57). Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

3

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2022). Key substance use and mental health indicators in the United States: Results from the 2021 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (HHS Publication No. PEP22-07-01-005, NSDUH Series H-57). Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

Mike is a degree-qualified researcher and writer passionate about increasing global awareness about climate change and encouraging people to act collectively in resolving these issues.

Fact Checked By:
Isabela Sedano, BEng.

Photo by Codioful (Formerly Gradienta) on Unsplash
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