In my last blog I discussed the prevailing stigma against female addicts. As National Recovery Month approaches, now in its 24th year, I am struck by the importance of its goal and the ways it can contribute to breaking down that stigma.
Recovery Month began in 1989, then known as “Treatment Works! Month,” to honor the accomplishments of treatment professionals in the addiction field. Eventually it grew to also recognize the accomplishments of folks in recovery. In 2011, after a previous name change, its title was shortened to “National Recovery Month” and its focus expanded to recognize recovery in all forms of behavioral and mental health, not just substance use disorders.
This month aims to promote the message that “recovery in all its forms is possible” and to recognize and appreciate the gains made by those with substance use issues as we do those who face other diseases and medical conditions. As treatment professionals, as recovering addicts and alcoholics, and as friends and loved ones of those who are still struggling, Recovery Month serves as a celebration of how far we’ve come in understanding addiction and a reminder that there’s still much work to be done. As general perceptions of substance use disorder and chemical dependency are slowly changing for the better, we should see Recovery Month as an invitation to proactively contribute to the fight for an accurate representation of this disease. Even more importantly, it’s an opportunity to reach out to the community at large and create a dialogue with folks, particularly those who may currently feel hopeless and alone in their own struggle against drugs and alcohol.
Here are some ideas for how you or your organization can get involved for Recovery Month: