Dedicating yourself to the challenging inner work of sobriety doesn’t have to be a solitary effort. Being united in sobriety and finding the right support are core tenets of National Recovery Month, a public awareness initiative to highlight opportunities for recovery and celebrate individuals and professionals who can help.
What Does National Recovery Month Do?
In 1989, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) created this campaign to “remind people in recovery and those who support them that wellness in recovery encompasses a person’s whole life, not just their mental health or substance use condition.” National Recovery Month also highlights “the importance of peer support in engaging people in recovery with a vital sense of belonging, support, and hope.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention note that the goals of National Recovery Month each September are to “promote and support new treatment and recovery practices, the nation’s strong and proud recovery community, and the dedication of service providers and communities who make recovery in all its forms possible.”
There are many events, educational panels, social media outreach efforts, and observances marking the tremendous shift from the myths and stigmas that have long stifled the realities of alcohol use disorder (AUD), substance use disorder (SUD), and mental illnesses. This transformation of not only understanding the scientific basis for brain diseases but also treating each individual with dignity helps move us closer to wellness.
Topics vary widely throughout National Recovery Month, touching on essential community-focused topics such as:
- American Indian and Alaska Native defining their unique principles for recovery and ways to advance health equity.
- Suicide prevention in underserved and under-resourced communities of color.
- Treating SUD in older adults. SAMHSA estimates that approximately “two million older adults are in need of SUD treatment.”
- Providing more adequate training to reduce the stigma surrounding and barriers to behavioral health treatment.
- The power of family and peer support in the recovery process.
- Exploring the concept of whole-person wellness: addressing physical, mental, emotional, social, and spiritual aspects of well-being.
- Strengthening recovery community support organizations and peer recovery support services.
Because of long-standing bias, addiction and mental health issues are often presented as insurmountable challenges. But here’s a critical point: in the past year, about one in three adults had SUD or any mental illness (AMI), while 13 percent of young adults 18–25 had both SUD and AMI—yet only 10 percent received treatment. An annual mobilized effort like National Recovery Month strives to encourage everyone to take a closer look at the people they know and others in their community and work toward more acceptance, healing, and wellness.
How Community Supports Recovery
Struggling with SUD, AUD, or a mental health condition is often quite isolating for most people. For example, Tulane University notes that social isolation creates multiple adverse health conditions, and “issues such as anxiety, depression, and low self-esteem often result from social isolation—but they can also cause it.”
Communities play a crucial role in supporting individuals in addiction and mental health recovery. Here are a few reasons why.
They provide social support
Community members can offer individuals understanding and nonjudgmental attitudes, which reduce the stigma associated with addiction and mental health issues. Having a network of friends, family, and peers who provide encouragement and empathy makes a significant difference in an individual’s recovery journey. These supportive relationships provide a sense of belonging and reduce the isolation often felt by those in recovery.
There’s increased access to resources
Sometimes a recovery barrier seems immovable simply because someone isn’t aware of local treatment facilities, support groups, counseling services, and other resources available to them. You can try SAMHSA’s Find Support portal to search for resources near you. Community-based organizations and initiatives may also offer educational programs and workshops to help individuals develop life skills, coping strategies, and resilience.
Investment in a recovery-friendly environment
A recovery-friendly community is one where individuals in recovery feel safe and encouraged to lead healthy lives. Communities can actively work to reduce environmental stressors and triggers that may contribute to relapse. This can involve policies and programs that support affordable housing, employment opportunities, and access to healthcare. Additionally, engaged people can organize events and activities—like participating in National Recovery Month—that promote sober, healthy lifestyles, providing alternatives to substance use, and fostering a sense of purpose and fulfillment.
Find United Support at Fair Oaks
The board-certified professionals at Fair Oaks Recovery Center in Sacramento follow a whole-person treatment philosophy: we believe in treating the mind, body, and spirit to allow you to begin a fresh chapter in your life. We offer kind, compassionate, and evidence-based services for individuals suffering from substance abuse as well as dual diagnosed mental health disorders such as anxiety, bipolar disorder, depression, or PTSD. You’ll always have a solid community of support with us—call today to see how we can help you.