September is officially Recovery Month! It’s a great opportunity to celebrate everything you have accomplished throughout your recovery journey and show some extra appreciation to everyone who supported you along the way. Designed to create awareness and reduce stigma surrounding mental and substance abuse disorders, Recovery Month is recognized nationwide and sponsored by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).
You may have heard that the opioid epidemic sweeping the nation spiked alcohol abuse nationwide, and you may wonder: can one individual really make a difference? Definitely! Now, more than ever, we need people to advocate for those who are still struggling with addiction. You can start by writing, calling, and emailing your local representatives and state legislators, letting them know the importance of making addiction treatment accessible to everyone. The more people speak up, the harder it will be for them to ignore the problem.
Want to get even more involved? Join an advocacy group in your area and start working on changing perceptions, policies, and laws that affect your community. Sharing your story with the world can be intimidating, but it can also inspire others to seek the help that they desperately need. You can start by sharing your story and what you have learned about addiction with your extended family and friends. You never know who is struggling with substance abuse, and your message might resonate with them. If you are feeling up for it, share your story with a wider audience ─ share it on social media, start a blog, write an article, contact your local newspaper, or make a video. Talk about your struggles, your successes, and those who supported you. Highlighting the integral role that loved ones can play in recovery might just inspire someone’s mother, brother, or friend to reach out to their loved one battling addiction.
You may think that it doesn’t matter that your coworker thinks that addiction is nothing more than a “moral failure” and that “addicts could stop if they wanted to,” but it does. The shame and stigma that accompanies addiction prevents many from seeking out help. Educating people about addiction is crucial to reducing stigma, and you can do your part. Start by sharing what you have learned with those around you. If you are comfortable sharing with others, then seek out volunteering opportunities, or speak at schools and community programs.
There are many misconceptions about addiction that you can help breakdown. Talk about causes, prevention measures, recovery tools, and the importance of support. Remember, education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world. Because Recovery Month is celebrated nationwide, there are plenty of exciting events for you, your family, and friends to join. You can visit SAMHSA’s website for a list of all Recovery Month events in your area. If there are no events in your community and you are feeling up for the task, you can also organize your own recovery event. Overcoming addiction is an incredible accomplishment and one that you should proudly celebrate. Take Recovery Month to treat yourself for all the hard work that you have put into reclaiming your life. Grab your friends and loved ones and enjoy some sober fun ─ go camping, take a trip to the beach, sign up for a cooking class, or try something new. Remember – the best way to celebrate your recovery is by living a happy, fulfilling life.