International Overdose Awareness Day was yesterday. Despite its name, this commemorative day is about more than just raising awareness for overdose. It’s a day for families to grieve the loss of their loved ones, a day to encourage recovery and a day to discuss the hard truths of addiction so that in the future, we might find a solution. With an estimated 60,000 Americans who died in 2016 due to drug overdose, working to break the silence and stigma that surrounds overdose is starting to feel urgently important. Recognizing International Overdose Awareness Day, which falls on August 31st every year, is just one of the ways we can do this. While so many people are suffering from overdose and its aftermath, it’s important to acknowledge it as one possible outcome of addiction. However, it’s just as important to recognize that there is another possible outcome to addiction – recovery. What is National Recovery Month? This September will mark the 28th National Recovery Month. This national observance, held every year in September, reminds Americans that treatment can enable those suffering from a substance addiction to live a healthy and fulfilling life. Spreading the message with unrelenting positivity, Recovery Month promotes the message that addiction prevention, treatment and recovery can and does work. Recognizing Recovery Month provides an open platform for those living in recovery to share their stories with the broader public. Sharing these recovery journeys with the community further emphasizes the value of addiction treatment. Recovery Month isn’t just about educating the nation on the benefits of treatment. It’s also a time to celebrate the achievements of the millions of Americans currently living in recovery. The path of recovery is not always an easy one, and those walking it every day deserve to be recognized for their daily victories over addiction. Each year, a new theme for Recovery Month is carefully developed by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) to resonate with everyone, not just those in recovery. This year’s theme of Joining the Voices of Recovery: Strengthen Families and Communities, focuses on bringing people from all walks of life together to share their personal addiction success stories and encourage others currently struggling with addiction to find their own successes in long-term recovery. Is there a need to recognize addiction treatment and recovery? Addiction is a disease that burdens millions of families throughout the country. According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, approximately 21.5 million people aged 12 or older have suffered from a substance use disorder – making up roughly 8 percent of the population. Opioids, including prescription painkillers and heroin, are now the leading cause of unintentional death in the U.S. While the opioid epidemic is on the verge of being declared a national emergency, an estimated 4.3 million people aged 12 or older are currently using prescription painkillers for nonmedical reasons. In fact, if you are under the age of 50 in America you are more likely to die from an overdose than any other cause including a car accident or cancer. Unfortunately, these are just some of the distressing statistics regarding addiction that have come out in recent years and they’re only getting worse. Recovery Month encourages the public to talk about addiction openly. It recognizes recovery as an attainable goal for someone currently in the midst of an addiction battle. But most importantly, Recovery Month reinforces the idea that recovery is possible through treatment and a battle with addiction does not need to end in tragedy. Why does National Recovery Month matter? The negative stigmas surrounding this disease can often discourage those afflicted with addiction from seeking help. We now know that labels such as “addict” and “junkie” are more than just hurtful, they can actually drive people away from pursuing treatment and ultimately, the path towards their recovery. Throw in mental illnesses, such as depression or anxiety, and a general lack of understanding of the disease and its treatment options and the roadblocks that addiction presents can often times make recovery feel out of reach. However, these obstacles do not mean that recovery has to be just a pipe dream. In order to turn recovery into a reality, we must first be able to talk publicly about addiction, treatment, and recovery within our communities and families. This September is the perfect time to unpack the stigmas surrounding addiction with your family, with your friends, with your colleagues, with your social media followers, and anyone else who will listen. Begin the conversation without prejudice and encourage those suffering from an addiction to come forward and seek help. The message of Recovery Month doesn’t end after September. Through education, SAMHSA hopes to arm the country with an arsenal of knowledge that can be used to increase awareness and help change the conversation surrounding addiction and treatment 365 days a year. At Vertava Health, seeing our clients and their families celebrating Recovery Month means the world to us. Their stories can be a sad reminder of just how devastating addiction can be, but they also serve as powerful examples of the healing that addiction treatment and recovery can lead to. Due to this, many of our graduates willingly share their journeys of recovery with others. We have to change the conversations surrounding addiction, treatment and recovery if we want to end the revolving door of addiction. This Recovery Month, take the time to celebrate you and your loved one’s triumphs over addiction. Educate yourself on the realities of the disease and the benefits of treatment. Invite those living in recovery to talk about their experiences with addiction. It’s time to start breaking down the stigmas surrounding this disease, increasing awareness and talking openly about addiction- you never know who might be listening. If you are currently living in recovery, Vertava Health wants to be the first to welcome you to Recovery Month. We’re so glad you’re here. If you’re currently struggling with addiction, we want to lend a helping hand. Our treatment specialists are here to take your phone call 24/7 at 888-601-8693.
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