September is National Recovery Month. Do you have a loved one who is in recovery? Many of us do. I have a few in my personal circle who are. And the journey for each – from what they have been willing to share – is different. Those journeys should be celebrated and recognized, and others need to know that there is help and there is hope. Just like the health observances for so many health conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, and others, mental and behavioral health deserves its own special day or month as well and it deserves to be talked about without stigma. Recovery month, celebrated every September, celebrates those in recovery. It reinforces a positive message that behavioral health is part of overall health, that prevention works, treatment is effective, and that people can be successful with recovery. The 2021 National Recovery Month theme is “Recovery is For Everyone: Every Person, Every Family, Every Community.” This theme reminds people in recovery and those who support them that no one is alone in his or her recovery journey.
Faces and Voices of Recovery is the hub for this year’s National Recovery month and provides a wealth of recovery resources. There is even a toolkit for those who are ready to make a difference in their local communities through education, awareness, and organizing celebrations for both those in recovery as well as the many professionals who treat them.
If you are in recovery and want to share your story, consider sharing on the Faces and Voices of Recovery website. Or if you’re struggling, read some of the shared stories and be inspired. People everywhere are celebrating their successes and sharing with others which is inspiring empowering, and helps to eliminate stigma that is so prevalent and oftentimes encountered by those in recovery. Read a story, share a story, and send the website link to a friend. I have a few people in mind with whom I need to share this, and I encourage our readers to do the same.
Here’s a story from Amanda Cook, someone who, “didn’t look like a person with a substance use disorder, whatever that means.” Many have an image of what someone with a substance use disorder looks like and oftentimes it is a far cry from reality. I am not a professional in this area, but I do know what this brave lady speaks is this truth and that there are many out there who don’t fit “the look” but who are battling addiction, getting help, and succeeding. “I only share this so that other people with substance use disorder and loved ones know there is a way out.” I am so glad she did. There are countless Amanda’s out there and while the chapters may be different, some of the pages of the stories are the same. There is help, there is hope. Please visit the website for more stories and share your own. We ARE in this together!
Amanda Cook’s Story
“Recovery means my life has meaning and I get a daily reprieve from the misery of addiction. I was given every opportunity to succeed in life. I’m a classically trained musician. However, I remember living in constant fear from an early age. I witnessed and was subject to physical violence in my own home. Cops were called on multiple occasions however my mother was too fearful, to be honest, leave, or get us help. I started using and drinking around the age of 13. It was all I could think about, it became my main motivation in life. While at the same time I held very good grades, member of the national honor society, volunteered at the veteran’s hospital, and practiced piano every single day. I went to a competitive university and graduated with honors in 4 years. Then went on to get my masters. All while partying as much as I could. I moved to a rural ski town to begin teaching at a university at the age of 28. I then got married and had kids at 30. At this point, I was able to regularly get opioid prescriptions from local doctors. It was easy, I didn’t look like a person with a substance use disorder, whatever that means. After having 2 children, at the age of 34, it spiraled out of control. I discovered poppy seed tea and quickly became addicted, both mentally and physically. I simply couldn’t stop. I didn’t want people to know my secret. I ended up also getting addicted to cocaine at this time. After 4 brutal years, I was able to find a doctor to prescribe me suboxone. I had to drive 2 hours each way for my appointments. It was a massive stretch on our finances. I became willing and ready to die. It was at that time my husband at the time and my therapist intervened and essentially forced me into inpatient. It was over, I surrendered to save my life for my children. I was oh so resistant but was so grateful to be given the opportunity. I got off suboxone, got healthy. I am now a “card-carrying member” of my local AA home group and am now the treasurer. I help others, I’m now a single mother and recovery is just a part of my everyday life. I thank God for giving me my life back. I’m now helping to fight opiate addiction in my rural community with the help of our public health services. I suffer from bipolar so that remains a struggle however I’d never be as stable as I am now if I wasn’t sober. Thanks for reading. I only share this so that other people with substance use disorder and loved ones know there is a way out.”
Recovery is for everyone.
Faces and Voices of Recovery: https://facesandvoicesofrecovery.org/
National Association of Addiction and Drug Abuse Counselors (NAAADC): https://www.naadac.org/national-recovery-month
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA): https://www.samhsa.gov/recovery-month