Celebrating 30 years: National recovery month

September 7, 2019 Providence Mental Health Team

September is a time to recognize that millions of Americans are using treatment services to overcome mental health challenges and substance use disorders. They can — and do — recover.


National Recovery Month is now in its 30th year.

It was created by the federal government’s Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) to make Americans aware that people with mental and substance use disorders can live healthy, rewarding lives. And that their recovery is in large part thanks to help from treatment and mental health services.

Every September millions of Americans are celebrated because they’re in recovery. Not only that, this observance focuses on how effective treatment is, and that people can — and do — recover.

Another goal of National Recovery Month: to remove the stigma the public has about mental and substance use disorders – typically a misguided stereotype bestowed on homeless populations. 

The numbers show why recovery is so vital

National Recovery Month also serves as a reminder that mental and substance use disorders affect us all. These are just a few recent stats from SAMHSA’s Behavioral Health Barometer, United States, Volume 5:

  • Among people aged 12 or older in the U.S. in 2017, 4.1 million had a marijuana addiction in the past year.
  • Among people aged 12 or older in the U.S. in 2017, 14.5 million abused alcohol in the past year.
  • Among people aged 12 or older in the U.S. in 2017, 2.1 million had and opioid addiction in the past year.

Thankfully, there are recovery-oriented care and support systems around the nation that can help people (and those who support them) with mental and substance abuse disorders successfully manage their conditions.

One of the foundations of all recovery programs is hope.

Recovery: the process of change

Through recovery, people are able to improve their health and wellness and feel supported to reach their full potential. According to SAMHSA, there are four major areas that recovery can aid:

  • Health: Learn about healthy choices that support well-being in body and mind.
  • Home: Have a stable and safe place to live.
  • Purpose: Engage in meaningful daily activities and have the independence and resources to join in society.
  • Community: Have relationships and social networks that provide support, love, hope and a sense of “me too.”

Two strong foundations of recovery

  • Hope. One of the foundations of all recovery programs is hope. That’s because it fuels the belief that life’s challenges can be overcome. Hope helps us see the chance for ongoing growth and better health and wellness, in spite of setbacks. In fact, because setbacks are always going to be part of life, so resilience — the ability to “bounce back” — can be vital.
  • Community. Relationships and social networks are key to the process of recovery. When friends, family members and others are champions of their loved one’s recovery, it can be even more successful. The other side of that is giving family members access to support that promotes their health and well-being. The give-and-take of support is crucial when it comes to engaging and supporting those who are in an active recovery process.

Recovery services and support must be flexible. For instance, when it comes to the opioid crisis, what may work to treat adults may be very different for young people or seniors. Successful recovery efforts, whether for opioids or alcohol abuse, need an approach that:

  • Is respectful of diverse groups based on age, race, religion and more.
  • Offers different ways to access support tools.
  • Addresses how to deliver services in the right way at the right time.
  • Provides ongoing support even after the initial disorder is overcome, to help avoid a relapse.

A time to reflect and plan

National Recovery Month offers a way for communities around the U.S. to reflect on how far they’ve come in helping people live meaningful, productive lives. The numbers show that there are millions of lives that still need help, but these lives are part of a larger community: their peers, loved ones and selfless volunteers and professionals. Community — and hope — make recovery possible.

Are you looking for recovery support for yourself or a loved one? You can start by talking with a doctor. You can find a Providence doctor using our provider directory. Or, you can search for a primary care doctor in your area.






Celebrate 30 years of #RecoveryMonth success. Then share your thoughts with other #womenshealth readers @psjh.



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Behavioral Health Barometer, United States, Volume 5

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How to choose a mental health professional

This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.

About the Author

Whether it's stress, anxiety, dementia, addiction or any number of life events that impede our ability to function, mental health is a topic that impacts nearly everyone. The Providence Mental Health Team is committed to offering every-day tips and clinical advice to help you and your loved ones navigate mental health conditions.

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