Every September for the past 30 years has been set aside as National Recovery Month, sponsored by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).
It is a time to recognize the millions of Americans who took that first difficult step into treatment and are now recovering from mental health substance use disorders.
The theme for this year’s observance is “Join the Voices for Recovery: Together We are Stronger.” It is a reminder that mental health issues, including substance abuse and addiction, are conditions that affect every community and that we are all part of the solution.
Unfortunately, effective mental health and substance addiction treatment is not always accessible to everyone who needs it or, in other cases, people are not aware of the treatment and recovery resources available to them.
How Many People Struggle With Mental Health or Substance Use Disorders?
SAMHSA’s 2017 National Survey on Drug Use and Health found some of the statistics about mental health and substance use disorders:
- Nearly 20 million people battled a substance use disorder
- More than 8 million people struggled with both a mental health issue and substance addiction, requiring dual-diagnosis treatment for successful recovery
- Only about 4 million people received treatment for these issues, a fraction of those who needed it
Why Don’t More People Seek Treatment for Mental Health or Addiction?
There are a number of factors that keep people from seeking treatment for mental health conditions like depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, addiction and others.
One of the biggest problems is the social stigma attached to these illnesses, despite the fact that they are incredibly common across every demographic in the general population.
With mental illnesses and the disease of addiction, there is often the idea that people suffering from these issues simply lack willpower or are too mentally weak to overcome depression, anxiety or past trauma. This idea is simply not true.
What most people either ignore or don’t understand is that these diseases can be caused by physical drivers, such as a chemical imbalance in the brain that requires treatment with medications.
Like asthma, diabetes and other chronic diseases, mental health and substance use disorders can be treated and managed, and victims of these illnesses can go on to lead normal, productive lives in recovery.
National Recovery Month Awareness Campaigns
Public awareness campaigns like National Recovery Month are so important for the people affected, as well as their family and friends.
SAMHSA’s toolkit, which is available to anyone, provides some of the following educational resources:
- Data on behavioral health conditions
- Information about prevention, treatment and recovery resources
- Tips for event planning and community outreach
- Media outreach templates
Mental health and substance use disorders not only disrupt the lives of those suffering from the conditions, but they can also damage or destroy relationships with family, friends and colleagues.
In addition, these illnesses have a profound impact on community resources, specifically healthcare and law enforcement who are all too often the first to come into contact with those in distress.
In September, take the opportunity to learn about mental health and addiction recovery.
Knowing what resources are available to those in need of treatment and sharing that information may just be a turning point in the life of someone struggling with these painful and complicated issues.
Like this year’s theme suggests, join the voices for recovery: together we are all stronger.