President Obama Declares September ‘National Alcohol and Drug Addiction Recovery Month’
Issues of addition do not just affect the single individual, but also do harm to a society as a whole. However, the reverse is also true – that recovery from addiction is not only personal, but brings hopeful change to many different aspects of a society.
In recognition of this, for 15 years, the White House has issued a proclamation designating September as “National Alcohol and Drug Addiction Recovery Month,” as a way of bringing greater awareness to the issues of recovery, how they affect our society, and how we can best support loved ones in the process of recovery.
The President’s Proclamation
On August 29, 2014, President Obama issued an official proclamation declaring our intent as a nation to “celebrate those who are seeking treatment, and those who have found pathways to healthy, rewarding lives” and “stand with families, friends, and professionals who support them.” This year’s theme is “Speak Up, Reach Out.”
The theme urges people with addictions to not hide in shame, but rather, declare and embrace the truth that recovery is possible. To that end, the proclamation itself draws attention to resources addicts seeking help can turn to –
1-800-662-HELP and www.samhsa.gov However, Obama was not content with mere words, but also made commitments to how he, as someone who can influence public policy, can work to make access to recovery easier and more affordable.
The need, And The Response
Recovery month gives recovery communities opportunities to celebrate their successes, and above all share them with family, friends, and neighbors so that people don’t have to know they are without support. According to the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, 17.6 million Americans struggle with alcohol dependence, 20 million have used an illicit drug in the past 30 days, and 48 million are using prescription drugs for a nonmedical purpose. Not all of these people are in treatment or recovery. While there could be many reasons for this, part of the problem is a lack of awareness of what is available. People may not realize what the risks of their substance abuse behavior are, or they may not realize that hope is possible.
National Recovery Awareness Month generates publicity, and allows more people to receive education about both the need and the possibilities of recovery. It can thus be a very important time for people interested in recovery. The website http://www.recoverymonth.gov/ draws attention to these resources, as does the 865 scheduled community events, all dedicated to education and outreach of recovery possibilities.
The recovery month website can offer help if you want to get involved, on offering resources related to fundraising and planning an event that can draw attention to issues of recovery, or work together to meet people’s and communities’ need for recovery. Another option is to celebrate your own personal Month of Recovery, by sharing your own story, sensitively telling about your journey with recovery, and offering to listen to someone else.
We still have a long way to go in building a culture that can communicate openly about the possibility of hope, and how people with addictions are not moral failures, but rather, people with an illness who deserve whatever it takes to get sober. This huge government response and awareness campaign is an important step in the right direction. However, an impersonal ad or community event is not going to have the same impact with a friend or loved one as much as sharing your own story, and letting them know that options of help are available for them as well. This is how we can all join in the important work to "Speak Up" and "Reach Out."