With the prevalence of drug and alcohol abuse continuing to impact people and families across the country, National Recovery Month is more necessary than ever before. Fatal overdoses now account for more deaths in people under the age of 50 than any other cause, including car accidents and violent crime. Just two weeks ago on August 16th, more than 70 people overdosed on a suspected “bad batch” of synthetic marijuana, K2. 20 of those overdoses occurred in the same park. While Naloxone can be administered in some cases of opioid overdose and thus save lives, for some the results are far more tragic.
August 31st marks International Overdose Awareness Day, which directly proceeds National Recovery Month in September. While today is to commemorate those lost to substance abuse and addiction, September is set aside each year to celebrate and encourage people to seek help in overcoming drug and alcohol abuse disorders.
We can no longer afford to ignore the substance abuse epidemic affecting the United States. Misconceptions regarding who addiction affects and what an “addict” looks like only serve to perpetuate harmful stigmas that stand in the way of healing together as a nationwide community. Rather than ridicule and judgement, people living with substance abuse disorders need encouragement, compassion, and guidance.
Contrary to popular belief, addiction is not a choice- it’s a response to deeply-rooted traumas, unaddressed mental health issues, or a combination of the two. Without the proper coping mechanisms in place, people turn to drugs and alcohol as a means to escape emotional and mental distress.
Addiction recovery is also more than “quitting.” True healing happens when people are able to address the underlying causes of substance abuse and replace harmful addictive habits with positive stress management, life skills, and beneficial coping mechanisms. However, many people in need of treatment for drug and alcohol abuse hesitate to seek it due to shame, embarrassment, or an earnest belief that recovery isn’t possible for them.
National Recovery Month and other year round recovery events help to serve as beacon to prove that it is possible to overcome addiction, no matter your circumstances or history. Through addiction recovery awareness events and advocacy, we help to continue the conversation about drug abuse and alcoholism on a personal level and on the national scale. As we celebrate National Recovery Month through story sharing, rallies, fundraising marathons, and the like, remember: this is a time for coming together in love and support for each other.