The month of September is known as Recovery Month with various events that commemorate and promote the treatment of and recovery from substance abuseand mental health disorders. The goal of Recovery Month is to impact the general discourse about mental health and substance abuse, advocate for more services for these disorders and to celebrate recovery and addiction treatment professionals.
In the past, the influence of popular media on general public perception has stigmatized mental health and substance abuse disorders a negative and shameful. This was recognized 23 years ago by addiction treatment professionals who started Recovery Month as a way to honor those who worked in the field of addiction treatment. Recovery Month then evolved in 1998 to celebrate those in recovery and it evolved last year to include those with mental health disorders.
Since Recovery Month began, public awareness and understanding substance abuse and mental health disorders has grown. One way this has been effective is equating the disease of addiction with cancer. From this perspective, people realize they wouldn’t shame someone who had cancer, discourage them for seeking treatment or caution them from telling their loved ones or peers about their ailments. In this light, if people are going to great lengths to face one of the most difficult diseases to recover from, their efforts should be celebrated rather than stigmatized.
Because mainstream media can impact public discourse on addiction, it is important to have visible events throughout Recovery Month that re-shape the negative perception of substance abuse and mental health disorders. Recovery Month celebrations are routinely done by sharing stories with others such as neighbors, friends and colleagues as a way to educate the public about living with and recovering from a substance abuse or mental health disorder. Their shared stories and celebrations show that addiction does not discriminate, that it can impact the rich and poor alike, regardless of race, gender, age or sexual orientation. The stories of treatment professionals and those in recovery reveal how and why recovery works, as SAMSHA explains, “There are millions of Americans whose lives have been transformed through recovery. These successes often go unnoticed by the broader population; therefore, Recovery Month provides a vehicle to celebrate these accomplishments.”
Those in recovery should rightfully be depicted as triumphant heroes walking through one of life’s most difficult encounters. Their investment in their own recovery is positive essential to their general health and well-being and that of those around them. They are living testaments that treatment does indeed work and enables them to lead amazing lives, as the best versions of themselves. By shifting the discourse, Recovery Month is a tribute to those in recovery and treatment service providers and spreads the message that recovery is common and possible. If you are a loved one is interested in recovery from a substance abuse or mental health disorder, Harmony Colorado has effective treatment programs that can help you begin your journey.