Author: Justin Mckibben
Today marks the beginning of National Recovery Month, a few weeks we can all take to promote the benefits of prevention, treatment, and recovery for mental health and substance abuse disorders across the board. As a recap of the history:
- 1989- National Recovery Month began as “TreatmentWorks!Month” established to honor the work of professionals in the treatment and recovery field.
- 1998- The annual observance grew into “National Alcohol and Drug Addiction Recovery Month” to include rejoicing in the accomplishments of individuals who are actively in recovery from substance use disorders.
- 2011- this celebration evolved even further to National Recovery Month AKA “Recovery Month” to include all facets of behavioral and mental health recovery.
Last year in 2014 National Recovery Month celebrated its 25th year with the theme “Join the Voices for Recovery: Speak Up, Reach Out”, and this year we keep up the tradition with annual events all over the country.
Back in 1992 Congress established the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) to help in making substance use and mental disorder information, services, and research more accessible to those in need of assistance.
SAMHSA Strategic Initiatives have been designed for various purposes, including:
- Providing treatment and services for people with mental and substance use disorders
- Supporting the families of people with mental and substance use disorders
- Helping build strong and supportive communities
- Promoting prevention of costly behavioral health problems
- Promote better health for all Americans
Recovery Month Annual Award Program
Each year SAMHSA proudly sponsors an awards program that acknowledges the efforts of those who planned and organized events for Recovery Month the prior year, including events that fall in three award categories:
Rally and Walk/Run Events
Includes events like:
- Walks and/or runs
- Motorcycle/bicycle rides
- Town hall meetings
- Health fairs
- Movie or video discussion groups
- Provider or treatment center open houses with educational components
- Faith-based lectures or trainings
Includes events such as:
- Art shows
- Awards programs
- Open houses
- Entertainment events
- Communication/media events
- Sporting events
- Poetry jams
One winner from each category will be selected the following year, and travel arrangements and expenses will be paid for one representative from each of the winning organizations to attend a luncheon the following year to accept the Recovery Month Annual Community Events Award.
To find out how to register an event and apply for this program, you can visit the SAMSHA website.
Themes in 2015
The theme for the 2015 National Recovery Month is:
“Join the Voices for Recovery: Visible, Vocal, Valuable!”
All over the nation events are being organized to bring people together to share real life experiences of the influence of recovery from mental and/or substance use disorders on their lives, and to stand out against stigma of addiction and recovery to show the value of life in recovery.
Dedicating this month to honoring those in recovery, while speaking up and spreading the message of recovery to those still feeling trapped by their addictions, has become a huge influence on the recovery community. An outstanding number of organizations in every state have already stepped up to become part of this observation, and many more are developing and getting involved.
While not everyone is here in the Sunshine State, I’d like to highlight a few events in the area to help inspire more involvement from our own local recovery community.
Jacksonville, Florida hosts an Art Walk on the first Wednesday of every month in downtown Jacksonville attracting over 5,00 residents of the city, and in September there is a table featured for National Recovery Month . This year they will be setup in front of Magnificat Café in honor of National Recovery Month.
Then on September 25th Jacksonville has already posted another chance to come together to celebrate recovery with a block party. There is advertised free food, along with a raffle for a chance to win a few great prizes.
For the past 8 years a committee in Daytona Beach, Florida has organized a celebration for individuals who have overcome all kinds of addictions and mental health an emotional issues, as well as recognize those who have helped and supported them.
This event is also designed to provide a message of prevention to young people in the area and encourage the community to learn more about what services are available.
Port St. Lucie
In Port St. Lucie, Florida there is an employment workshop on September 19th put together to address some of the barriers facing the recovery community. Recovering addicts and alcoholics face a lot of stigma and adversity when seeking employment. Fear of some factors tends to hinder people in recovery from pursuing the careers they desire such as:
- Criminal records
- Lack of confidence
- Lapses in employment
- Educational requirements
This workshop is interactive and loaded with:
- Special guests and speakers
- Resume writing assistance
- Mock interview process
- Workshops on how to start your own business
It is a 100% FREE event and participation from all areas of the recovery community is encouraged.
So far these are just a few of the events that have been posted on the SAMSHA website, and surely through the month more will be added to the schedule for Florida.
In any state you can easily search for events in your area, but the real challenge beyond getting involved is to organize an event in your own community. Either way getting involved in this annual celebration is an excellent way of promoting the truth of recovery to your own community.
So this September seek out more information on how to volunteer or get involved. You can even use online forums and social media to help raise awareness and spread your own message. Each individual has an awesome and unique contribution they can make, not just to honor themselves, but to help show the world what it truly means to recovery from something like drug addiction or a mental health disorder.
Last month we remembered overdose and raising awareness, now let us celebrate recovery. Thousands of men and women everywhere are growing and changing their lives through programs of recovery, and a lot of those stories began with reaching out and asking for the help that taught them how to escape drugs and alcohol. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135