September is National Recovery Month, a time to “promote and support evidence-based treatment and recovery practices.” The theme this year is, “Recovery is for Everyone: Every Person, Every Family, Every Community.” National Recovery Month was started by SAMHSA, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, in 1989 as a way to combat addiction and mental health crises by promoting treatments, celebrating sobriety, and inspiring those still struggling. According to SAMHSA, 2022 will be a year to “address the nation’s growing crisis of substance misuse and overdose deaths.”
According to the National Center of Drug Abuse Statistics, more than 70,000 overdose deaths occur annually in the U.S., and that number increases by 4% each year. 3.8% of adults have both a mental illness and a substance abuse disorder. Annually, there are also 95,000 alcohol related deaths that occur, or about 260 per day. The goal of SAMHSA and National Recovery Month is to bring down the statistics, and help those affected by mental illness and substance abuse get on the road to recovery through treatment and support.
SAMHSA has a recovery plan, and consists of four “dimensions of recovery,” which include health, home, purpose, and community. Each represents an important part of one’s life that must be worked on when on the road to recovery. Health includes physical and emotional, such as managing symptoms, eating well, and taking care of mental health—including dedicating time to self care. Home means having a safe place to call home, a basic shelter is essential for everyone, especially those recovering from addiction. Purpose would include having something to dedicate time to, such as a job, a volunteering opportunity, or taking on a new hobby. Finally, community means having a supportive network by one’s side to help with the recovery process, such as friends and family.
What Factors Lead to Substance Abuse?
According to the National Center for Drug Abuse Statistics, substance abuse disorder (SAD) is most likely to affect young men. 22% of people with SAD are male, while 17% are female. Geographically, 5% of people living in rural areas use illegal drugs versus 20% of those living in large cities.
According to Alpine Recovery Lodge, the groups of people who are most vulnerable to drug abuse are young Caucasian males, those suffering from mental illness, people with high IQs, and children of addicts. Things that may lead to substance abuse include:
Stress and Pressure
Stress can be caused by many factors in life, especially work or school. Many people tend to be introduced to drugs during school years, while feeling the stress and anxiety brought on by the school environment, due dates, and grades. Pressure can be put on by peers or even oneself to fit in, or to use drugs as a coping mechanism.
Modeling From Family Members
Modeling is powerful. If a child sees a parent struggling with alcohol or drug abuse, chances are the child will be influenced by the parent’s actions. Children of addicts are 45-79% more prone to substance abuse than other children.
Those Suffering With Mental Illness
Many people who struggle with illnesses such as ADHD, bipolar disorder, and depression are likely to attempt to self-medicate and use drugs or alcohol to cope with their disorder.
What You Can Do
This month, there are several events that SAMHSA has to offer for those seeking support, or those who are supporting someone. On September 7th, there will be a Recovery Rally in Sacramento, CA. The rally has been ongoing since 1992, and each year it brings people together to show support of those recovering. September 13th is National Opioid and Substance Awareness Day, and there will be a virtual town hall. The event is co-hosted by the Brigham Health Program and Pain Innovation, and will include presentations and feature stories told by addiction survivors.
On September 30th, there will be a livestream of Mobilize Recovery’s Young Adults in Recovery Panel. These are just a few of the events taking place this month. On social media, SAMHSA is highlighting Young Adults in Recovery by creating and sharing posts surrounding the recovery of young people with substance abuse disorders. They have a page full of graphics along with captions to be copied for anyone to post on their socials to show support this month.
What the Government is Doing
On August 31st, the White House released “A Proclamation on National Recovery Month.”
The statement noted the challenges of those trying to recover from addiction, the factors involved such as housing and employment, and the special disadvantages of Tribal and Black communities when it comes to substance abuse. Biden highlighted the importance of tackling the issue head-on, and that the government has produced funding specifically for recovery support. “This year, we secured nearly $22 billion from the Congress to support drug prevention, treatment, harm reduction, and recovery support services, with a focus on underserved communities.”
Also noted in the statement is the additional $4 billion investment from the American Rescue Plan which will provide more support in communities including high schools and colleges, helping those who need it most. They plan to further expand support into the workplace through “recovery ready workplace policies” which will promote more “inclusive hiring,” bringing employers into the recovery process. Toward the end of the statement, Biden expressed his support for those in recovery and his admiration for those who overcome substance abuse disorders.
This September, the road to recovery will be further paved with support, resources, and inspiration from people all over the U.S. in an attempt to stop substance abuse in its tracks. National Recovery Month is more than just an opportunity to share a graphic on social media. It’s an opportunity to support and educate people, and to ultimately save lives.