National Recovery Month: What We’ve Learned

With another National Recovery Month in the books, recovery and addiction prevention advocates all over the country are left empowered, mobilized and indelibly changed. The fact remains, however, that there is more work than ever left to be done in combating drug and alcohol addiction in our communities, families and our institutions. With over 72,000 people succumbing to fatal drug overdose in 2017, millions more living with addiction every day and three million people across the globe dying from alcohol in 2016, efforts like National Recovery Month and the message with which they leave us are more important than they have ever been.

More than Just an Empty Sentiment

One of the challenges of events like National Recovery Month is that skeptics often doubt that they can lead to real action.  It’s roughly the same line of thinking that consistently yields low rates of voter turn-out: “What am I going to do?” “How can I POSSIBLY make a difference?” and similar questions.

The reality is that the truth dies in darkness, and the more light we shine on the toxic and pervasive substance abuse epidemic that has become this country’s leading public health issue, as well as the amazing and humbling people who are able to overcome drugs and alcohol, the more the country and the world at large start to take notice: researchers are more inspired to explore new treatment methods and medications; mothers are more empowered to help their addicted children; users feel less and less of the stigma that prevents them from getting help; insurance companies and treatment facilities redouble their efforts to make care more accessible.

What Happens Now?

Events like National Recovery Month have rippling effects of responsiveness among stakeholders in all areas of the addiction conversation, from victims and their loved ones, clinicians, law enforcement, prevention advocates, legislators and all others. The mission, going forward, is to keep the energy, momentum and messaging of this event, and others like it, all year long to affect change and help more and more people find their way toward recovery and lasting independence from drugs and alcohol. Get involved however you can. Start educating yourself independently, go to more seminars and rallies or simply talk to your loved one about their problematic substance use and see if they need help. One by one, we can do this…and it’s imperative that we try.