The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) sponsors National Recovery Month every September “to increase awareness and understanding of mental and substance use disorders and celebrate the people who recover.” This year’s theme is Join the Voices for Recovery: Invest in Health, Home, Purpose, and Community, which explores how “integrated care, a strong community, sense of purpose, and leadership” combine to create effective treatments that sustain recovery. In essence, this year’s efforts target urban communities, health care providers, the media, and policymakers, and how these entities can work together to support recovery efforts.
Past themes include Our Families, Our Stories, Our Recovery; Visible, Vocal, Valuable; and Speak Up, Reach Out.
The goal of Recovery Month— in its 29th year this year— is to educate Americans on the importance of good behavioral health and how it can enable healthy, rewarding lives for those with mental and/or substance use disorders. National Recovery Month also gives those in long-term recovery the opportunity to celebrate their successes, share their stories, and break down stigmas surrounding mental health and addiction.
Recovery is possible, and National Recovery Month events and objectives aim to show the public and others in recovery that people can and do recover. Other objectives include encouraging the community to advocate for expanded and improved availability of effective prevention, treatment, and recovery services.
Hundreds of events celebrating National Recovery Month are held in September and throughout the year and encourage a wide range of individuals and groups to participate.
Who is affected by mental illness and addiction?
The short answer? Everyone. As of 2016, over 20 million Americans aged 12 and older had a substance use disorder, according to data from the 2016 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH). The same study found that nearly 60 percent of adults (18-plus) with a mental illness did not receive needed treatment and that one in five adults with a mental illness reported a lack of access to needed treatment. An estimated 2.6 million adults had co-occurring serious mental illness(es) (SMI) and substance use disorder(s) (SUDs) in 2016 (SAMHSA).
Young adults (18-25) seem to be disproportionately affected by mental and substance use disorders, particularly when it comes to a lack of treatment or lack of access to treatment. Of the 2 million young adults with a serious mental illness, only about half received treatment; the NSDUH found that over 5 million young adults had a substance use disorder. The survey also found that 2.1 million people in this demographic had co-occurring mental illness and substance use disorder.
What are some of the stigmas to focus on breaking down?
There are, unfortunately, many stigmas associated with mental illness and substance use disorders, which can not only result in ineffective legislation and improper solutions, but also discourage people from seeking the treatment that they need. A few common stigmas include:
- The idea that addiction is a choice
- That people with mental illnesses and/or SUDs are violent or dangerous
- Addiction and mental illness are forever
Stigmas just perpetuate feelings of disillusionment among those who need help, those who love them, and those trying to effect change, and educating the public is an important part of dismantling these assumptions.
How can you promote National Recovery Month?
- SAMHSA offers several free tools, graphics, and resources, including posters, PSAs, and a kit to help you host your own event, on their website
- Post a recovery month event or find one near you
- Link to the main event page
- Follow and share on social media
Are you ready to begin recovery?
Our addiction specialists at Royal Life Centers well understand substance use disorders and their co-occurring mental health disorders and work closely with guests to treat a wide range of substance and mental issues. We are a network of full-service drug and alcohol detox and treatment facilities offering care from medical detox through sober living. Our centers treat dependence on alcohol, benzodiazepines, cocaine, methamphetamine, and opioids.
If you or a loved one has a substance use disorder, please reach out to us at (877)-RECOVERY. Our admissions team is available 24/7 to provide support and answer any questions that you may have.