National Recovery Month is held every September and is promoted by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. This month-long event began as a celebration of the effectiveness of addiction treatment, but it evolved into a celebration of those in recovery from addiction and mental health issues. 2014 is National Recovery Month’s 25th celebration, and each month focuses on certain aspects of health and wellness: this year’s focus is on speaking up about addiction and recovery.
Addiction and mental health have long been wreathed in silence, which has contributed to the stigmas and misunderstandings surrounding addiction, which results in more silence. This cycle of secrecy and shame needs to end so that everyone feels able either to ask for help or to speak up about their recoveries and the benefits of treatment. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) explains that stigmas keep people from treatment, and they have long contributed to poor treatment by medical professionals and pharmaceutical companies. NIDA emphasizes that stigmas can change, and that “the sense of stigma is most likely to diminish as a result of public education and broader acceptance of addiction as a treatable disease” (“Stigma of Drug Abuse”). Information can reverse stigmas, but that information has to reach the general public first.
National Recovery Month recognizes the benefits that speaking up can have in the fight against stigmas, and it knows that the more voices there are, the better access people will have for quality addiction and mental health care. It spreads positive messages about addiction recovery by showing that treatment is possible and effective; it highlights successful recoveries and asks the public to share stories of addiction and mental health struggles.
Addiction is a disease, and it can affect anyone. Allowing it to remain stigmatized allows the public to maintain misguided views of addicts, like believing they and their families are safe from addiction. National Recovery Month encourages addiction prevention as much as treatment, so it asks individuals from all walks of life to speak up about their struggles with drugs. Addicts may be the stereotypical junkies on the street, but they can also be parents, children, professionals and friends.
Do not let yourself or someone you love struggle in silence with addiction or mental health issues. National Recovery Month shows that attitudes toward addiction and treatment have and are changing, so step forward to get the help you need. Call our helpline to learn about the many treatment options available to you. Find the resources that will meet your unique needs and that offer the best treatment for your individual recovery. Our admissions coordinators are available 24 hours a day, and all calls are toll free and confidential. Help break the stigma by speaking up and reaching out.