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Remembering 25 Years of National Recovery Month

Author: Justin Mckibben

As the month of September comes to a close for the year 2014 it is awesome to be able to take a look at the good being done and the efforts to effectively raise awareness about addiction, after all September is National Recovery Month. In its 25th year, National Recovery Month promotes the benefits of prevention, treatment, and recovery for mental and substance abuse disorders across the board. 2014’s theme has been “Join the Voices for Recovery: Speak Up, Reach Out” which was to encouraged people to stand strong and speak up about mental health and substance abuse disorders, addiction and the reality of recovery.

A History of Recovery

National Recovery Month began in 1989, originally entitled “TreatmentWorks!Month” which was initially created to honor the work of professionals in the treatment and recovery field. The annual observance evolved in 1998 to “National Alcohol and Drug Addiction Recovery Month” when the scope of the focus extended to include celebrating the accomplishments of individuals who are actively in recovery from substance use disorders. Later in 2011 this celebration evolved even further to National Recovery Month (Recovery Month) to include all facets of behavioral health.

This month also promotes new growth for individuals to use to recognize behavioral health issues and reach out for help. National Recovery Month spreads the message that behavioral health is a crucial piece of the overall health issue. Over the past 25 years National Recovery Month has inspired millions of people across the nation facing both mental health disorders and substance abuse to raise awareness about addiction. It has inspired millions more to share their stories of recovery, and to contribute to educating and helping others who are still struggling with these important issues.

Every year since its inception, National Recovery Month has made a tremendous impact. Through activities and events at both the national and local level, the resulting media exposure, and the growing support from elected officials, policymakers, education leaders, judges, health providers, the faith community, and many other sectors, efforts in raising public awareness have soared beyond expectation. Every individual and entity involved has taken a position to take a stand in nurturing the survival and growth of quality treatment services. These sectors and officials have invested time to work together to carry the message that substance abuse is a treatable disease, and that recovery is possible.

Jeffersonville Rally for Recovery

Overcoming substance abuse is possible was the underlying theme of a fun-spirited event held in Jeffersonville Saturday afternoon to fuel support and raise awareness in honor of September being National Recovery Month. The Rally for Recovery event had a guest list including  some of the United States advocates spear-heading the fight against drug addiction.

Michael Botticelli, the acting director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy and national drug czar, told those in attendance that he knows recovery can work, as he personally overcame substance abuse 25 years ago. Director Botticelli went on explain that those fighting addiction often need community organizations to be successful in their battles against drug abuse, and stressed the great deal of importance there is to him that people at every phase of recovery have a voice in the fight against addiction.

“Our office promotes policies and practices that make sure that people are getting access to treatment, that we know when people recover they become productive members of their communities, and we can restore them to life and to love. We know that community problems require community solutions. One of the most important things is to bring communities together to help support people in recovery [and] to make sure we are not arresting and incarcerating people who have a substance-abuse disorder. The importance of events like this is it brings out all parts of a community. That is what we experienced today. We have treatment providers, prosecutors, community advocates and families.”

Botticelli addressed crowds at the events held in Jeffersonville alongside Tom Coderre, who happens to be the senior advisor for The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. While the event praised those who have overcome substance abuse, it also reached out to those who continue to struggle with addiction.

NCADD Recovery Rally

The National Council on Alcohol and Drug Dependence (NCADD) was one of the original founding sponsors of National Recovery Month 25 years ago and has been an actively involved in National Recovery Month as a Planning Partner ever since. Local NCADD Affiliates across the country hold hundreds of local community events in celebration of recovery month including events at baseball games, picnics, rallies, walks, luncheons and dinners.

For several consecutive years NCADD has worked hand in hand with A&E and its Recovery Project in planning and sponsoring a National Recovery Rally. The first two years of the National Recovery Rally were held in New York City and then three years in Philadelphia. Back in 2009, the NYC Recovery Rally attracted a crowd of 10,000!

In 2012 the Recovery Walks Rally, sponsored by NCADD Affiliate, the Council of Southeast Pennsylvania/PRO-ACT, drew an astonishing crowd of over than 15,000!

Similar programs and rallies have been organized and conducted yearly nationwide, with the California Association of Addiction Recovery Resources (CAARR) being responsible for the organization of Recovery Happens and the annual California Recovery Happens Month Kick-Off Rally at the Capitol.

Millions of American lives are transformed and elevated through recovery from drugs and alcohol. These successes stories often go unnoticed by the broader population, and many unsung heroes have amazing and compelling stories to tell. Therefore, National Recovery Month has been put in motion for 2 and a half decades now to facilitate sharing and rejoicing in these victories. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction there is hope to become one of these incredible success stories, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135

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