September is National Recovery Month. Today, there are more than 23 million Americans who are recovering from a substance use disorder. These are our parents, children, siblings, neighbors, friends, and co-workers who are dealing with alcohol and drug addiction. Recovery month celebrates all who have been on the journey of recovery. Fortunately, we live in a time where more attention and recognition are being given to those who struggle with alcohol and substance use, and more resources for those who need help is becoming a priority. In my own daily work in the field of public health, I manage a large grant that focuses on opioid use disorder along with alcohol as a secondary substance. These issues are not specific to the service area that my grant covers, but to every community and state in this nation. While the problem is wide-spread and great, so is the ability to make a difference.
Below is a video with a message from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA) Assistant Secretary for Mental Health and Substance Use, Dr. Miriam Delphin-Rittmon, who shares the importance of recovery support and highlights resources that encourage engagement in mental health and substance use treatment.
Do you need help?
Resources and help ARE available. If you, or someone you know, needs help to stop using substances, call
SAMHSA’s National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357) or TTY: 1-800-487-4889, or text your zip code to 435748 (HELP4U), or use the SAMHSA’s Behavioral Health Treatment Services Locator to get help.
If you are feeling alone and having thoughts of suicide—whether or not you are in crisis—or know someone who is, don’t remain silent. Talk to someone you can trust through the. Call or text 988 or chat 988lifeline.org.
Faces and Voices of Recovery is the hub for National Recovery month and provides a wealth of recovery resources. We introduced this to our readers last year and it’s worth sharing again. People share their personal stories on this site, creating an opportunity to reduce the stigma associated with substance use and addiction. When we reduce stigma, we can make a difference not only in the lives of those impacted by substance use, but of entire communities. Read some of the shared stories and one can see that recovery is indeed possible.
Here’s a story from Victoria, who despite many challenges, is a great example of how recovery really is possible. Please visit the website for more stories and share your own. You never know who you might inspire!
“I started drinking when I was 13. By 17, I had overdosed, had been sexually assaulted twice, had moved out of my family home, had developed an eating disorder and had tried to commit suicide. My saving grace was that I’m really smart. Even though I was in and out of the hospital, I was going to class, doing well on the SAT and taking AP classes. I had compartmentalized my life. But as I got older, it got harder to compartmentalize the lives.
My addiction did not stop me from getting into Emory University. While there, I continued to struggle with addiction and depression and on the advice of an on-campus therapist agreed to treatment and sober living in Mississippi. The experience proved transformative. I returned to Emory and helped start the university’s collegiate recovery community. I graduated in 2016 and I am now enrolled in social work school at the University of Southern California. I credit a solid group of friends for helping me maintain my sobriety at Emory. Plus, I didn’t think I was missing out on anything. I had already seen or done everything from the time I was 13. Now, I don’t need to be drunk to be at a bar or to go dancing. Being drunk or high robs me of the presence of the moment. I don’t need substances to have a good time. I found my good time among friends, both those I had before recovery and those I made after. I also pursued interests I had let lapse, such as dance, writing and acting, by making those apart of my time on the Emory campus. Because the Atlanta-based university is small, I relied on my friends and my sorority sisters for support. I needed that core group of people who really understood, not just what it meant to be sober, but to be a sober Emory college student. We came from similar socioeconomic backgrounds and academic rigor. We shared aspirations, drive and motivation. These friendships made the difference, enabling me to be more than a student in recovery. I’m more than a label. I got sober so I can be a functioning member of society and create a lasting impact on the world.”
Faces and Voices of Recovery: https://facesandvoicesofrecovery.org/
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA): https://www.samhsa.gov/recovery-month