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What is National Recovery Month and Why is It Important?

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) would like you to come on board to promote National Recovery Month. Held each year in September, National Recovery Month spearheads vital activities to help people who suffer from substance abuse disorders by facilitating access to treatment, fighting stigma that often accompanies these disorders, and celebrating the accomplishments of people who have embarked on recovery.

Advocating for Recovery

One of the most important activities of National Recovery Month is advocating for recovery. For people who struggle with substance abuse disorders, it is crucial that they have access to effective rehabilitation programs, but statistics paint a disturbing picture. According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), only 10.8 percent of adults over the age of eighteen who needed treatment for substance abuse disorders in 2016 actually went into rehab and got help. If people with addiction disorders do not get help, they place their lives at significant risk. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that in 2016, there were 63,600 deaths by drug overdose in the United States. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholismreports that around 88,000 adults die each year in the United States because of alcohol and that 31 percent of traffic fatalities are linked to driving while intoxicated.

Combating Stigma

The unfortunate phenomenon of stigma works to prevent people who suffer from substance abuse disorders from getting help. A study by the National Institutes of Health found that stigma carries a negative psychological impact. People who feel stigmatized can suffer from feelings of worthlessness that prevent them from entering treatment programs. They often fear being rejected by family and friends, fired from their jobs, or ostracized from their communities. National Recovery Month works to fight stigma by educating people about the realities of substance abuse disorders and what it means to be in recovery. SAMHSA offers a toolkit for dissemination to media outlets for community outreach to help shatter prejudice and correct harmful misconceptions.

Celebrating Sobriety

National Recovery Month also celebrates people who have placed their feet on the path of recovery, thereby getting the word out that recovery works. People who struggle with substance abuse disorders need to see that they have ample reason for hope, and they are encouraged by stories and examples of others who struggle with addiction but who have found workable solutions for maintaining sobriety in their day-to-day lives.

National Recovery Month offers a wide variety of resources to work toward these important goals. Everyone, including community leaders, healthcare workers, family members and friends of people who have addictions, and caring community members, is encouraged to get involved and do their part to create an environment where people with addiction challenges are free to seek and receive the help they need.

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