September 2019 marks the 30th anniversary of National Recovery Month. That is three decades of spreading the message, “treatment is effective, and people can and do recover every day”.  Throughout the years, Recovery Month has promoted and supported new evidence-based treatment and recovery practices, the strong and proud recovery community, and dedication of service providers and community members across the nation who make recovery possible. Millions of Americans affected by mental and substance use disorders will be lifted up into a life of recovery, filled with hope, health, and personal growth. This observance also serves to reduce the stigma and misconceptions that cloud the public’s understanding of mental and substance use disorders, potentially discouraging others from seeking help.

 

Strong communities make for strong recovery. Community members including families, neighbors, employers, educators, charitable organizations, and faith-based institutions are the backbone of the communities that foster recovery among its residents. Research shows that peer support services can provide a valuable approach to guide individuals as they work towards recovery. Mental and substance use disorders do not come from outside the community, they emerge from within it. Community members must band together to show that recovery is possible for everyone. We need to keep making positive strides to plan on making recovery support services more accessible so people affected can live meaningful and productive lives. By engaging individuals with substance use disorders, helping them access treatment, recovery support, and other services they need, and by welcoming them back to the community, we can build healthier, more resilient communities and reduce the public health and public safety costs.

 

Communities can bolster the possibility of recovery in a meaningful way. Help those affected reach their full potential by promoting recovery! What can you do?

  • Organize a walk or run in your neighborhood to raise awareness about mental and substance use disorder issues impacting your community.
  • Connect with local schools to provide messages of support and resources for students, teachers, and administrators.
  • Share locations of safe medication disposal sites in your community.
  • Reach out to faith-based organizations to encourage them to support recovery efforts through donations, member trainings, and community counseling initiatives.

 

Community members looking to support their peers in recovery have many resources available to them:

Lists resources and helps individuals find a local chapter.

Lists resources and helps individuals find a local chapter.

Offers tools and training materials for community, school, and family interventions related to alcohol use and misuse.

Provides information about substance use from the Drug Enforcement Administration for parents, educators, and caregivers.

Offers guidance for recognizing mental health issues and starting conversations with friends and family members, educators, and faith and community leaders.

 

When mental and substance use disorders go untreated, they become more complex and more difficult to treat.  Intervening early before conditions progress is among the best and most cost-effective ways to improve overall health.

 

It’s important to give thanks each day because we can get caught up in daily routines that sometimes we fail to express gratitude for our successes and accomplishments.   Even the most stressful or frustrating day deserves acknowledgement because you made it through the day which means you are that much better equipped to face tomorrow. Remember recovery isn’t a race but a lifelong journey.  Find a sponsor, mentor, or peer support specialist to help you navigate your recovery program and be your support in time of crisis.

 

Submitted by: Tessa Anderson, Drug Court Coordinator

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