You’ve probably seen them on Facebook – even Twitter or Instagram. Memes, photos or posts about a random “holiday” you’ve never mentioned before: National Dog Day, anyone? Siblings Day?
How about the even more obscure days, weeks and months of celebrations: May 3rd is “Lumpy Rug Day”, the second week of March is “Crochet Week”, and November is “Peanut Butter Lovers Month.” It seems like there’s a day, month or week for everyone and everything. But as silly and strange as these celebrations and events may seem, in some strange way, they often bring people together.
The month September honors something neither silly nor strange, but something that certainly brings people from all walks of life together. September is National Recovery Month. Now over a quarter century in practice, Recovery Month is a national observance to increase awareness about addiction prevention, treatment, and recovery. Spreading the positive message that treatment is effective and people can and do recover, Recovery Month highlights the lives of individuals who have fought for their lives, reclaimed their health, and are living happily in long-term recovery. At our campuses, seeing our clients, graduates, and their families celebrate this month means everything.
You see, alcohol and drug addiction impact millions of families across the country. According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), an estimated 20 million Americans 12 years of age and older used an illegal drug in the past 30 days — representing roughly 8% of the U.S. population. In addition to that, an estimated 48 million people 12 years of age and older are using prescription drugs for nonmedical reasons — representing approximately 20% of the U.S. population, or 1 out of every 5 people. The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD) estimates 17.6 million people, or one in every 12 adults, suffer from alcohol abuse, while more than half of all adults have a family history of alcoholism or risky drinking patterns.
According to the Mayo Clinic, nearly 1,500 people addicted to drugs and alcohol die every week across the country — accounting for nearly 20,000 fatalities each year.
Addiction is a disease with many stigmas, internal barriers and external barriers that prevent people from seeking substance addiction treatment. For example, the labels of “addict” or “alcoholic”; denial; psychological distress such as anxiety and depression; lack of understanding of the disease and its treatment options.
Despite addiction being such a widespread disease, millions of lives have been transformed through mental health and addiction treatment. National Recovery Month reiterates the fact, that regardless of barriers and roadblocks – recovery is possible.
This September, celebrate your victories and your loved one’s victories over addiction. If you or a loved one are still in active addiction, talk about addiction openly. Break down the internal and external barriers, bury the stigmas and shed light on what’s really going on in our country. Recovery Month isn’t just another bizarre “holiday” – but it is worth talking about on with those we love, in group settings, and on social media. Recovery matters to millions of individuals and families, so why not recognize it?