So, September is National Recovery Month, and this year it’s more important than ever. Colorado has seen addiction rates skyrocket over the last few years, with overdoses becoming a daily tragedy. According to recent reports, alcohol, meth, and opioids are the most commonly abused substances in the state. National Recovery Month aims to raise awareness about mental health and substance use disorders and celebrate the people who recover.
This recovery awareness month is a chance for all of us to spread compassion for those struggling with addiction. We can observe by learning more about treatment options, supporting local recovery organizations, and sharing stories of hope on social media. Recovery is possible; let’s make this month count and create a community where people feel empowered to seek help. Together, we can overcome it.
The History of National Recovery Month
The history of National Recovery Month dates back to 1989, when the first observance, then called “Treatment Works! Month,” was held. It was initiated by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), which is a branch of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The goal was to promote the effectiveness of substance abuse treatment and mental health services.
In 1998, the observance was renamed “National Alcohol and Drug Addiction Recovery Month” to better reflect its focus on recovery. The name was later simplified to “National Recovery Month” to encompass a broader range of mental health and substance use challenges.
Over the years, National Recovery Month has grown in scope and impact. It has been supported by various organizations, community groups, and individuals who work in the field of addiction treatment and recovery. Presently, the management of the Recovery Month website, social media engagement, and coordination of central event venues are overseen by “Faces & Voices of Recovery.”
Why Is National Recovery Month Important?
National Recovery Month aims to promote the message that behavioral health is essential to health, prevention works, treatment is effective, and people can and do recover. It brings people and resources together to raise awareness about mental health and substance use disorders and celebrate people in recovery.
Recognizing National Recovery Month and raising awareness about substance abuse and addiction is crucial to promoting healing, hope, and recovery. Here are some reasons why recognition is important:
Substance abuse and addiction are often stigmatized in society. Many individuals facing addiction may feel ashamed, judged, or isolated. Raising awareness helps break down these stigmas by promoting understanding, empathy, and compassion. It encourages individuals to seek help without fear of judgment or discrimination.
Early recognition and intervention are key to preventing the progression of substance abuse and addiction. By raising awareness, individuals, families, and communities can learn to recognize the warning signs and symptoms of substance abuse. This knowledge enables them to intervene early and guide individuals toward appropriate treatment and support services.
Raising awareness about National Recovery Month also highlights the availability of resources and support services for individuals struggling with substance abuse. It helps individuals and their loved ones identify the various treatment options, counseling services, support groups, and helplines available in their communities. Increased awareness can lead to improved access to these vital resources.
Awareness campaigns bring communities together and create a network of support for individuals in recovery. By recognizing National Recovery Month, communities can organize events, workshops, and conferences that facilitate conversations around substance abuse, addiction, and recovery. These events provide opportunities for individuals to connect, share their stories, and find strength in knowing they are not alone.
Increasing public awareness about substance abuse and addiction can drive advocacy efforts and influence policy changes. By shedding light on the prevalence and impact of these issues, awareness campaigns can generate support for policy reforms related to addiction treatment, mental health services, and prevention programs. This, in turn, can contribute to creating a more comprehensive and effective approach to addressing substance abuse.
National Recovery Month celebrates individuals who have overcome addiction or are currently on the path to recovery. By recognizing their achievements and sharing success stories, awareness campaigns inspire hope in those who are still struggling. They serve as a reminder that recovery is possible and that support and resources are available for individuals to reclaim their lives.
Ways to Observe National Recovery Month
National Recovery Month provides an opportunity for individuals, communities, and organizations to come together and support those affected by substance abuse and addiction. Here are five meaningful ways to observe National Recovery Month:
Many communities organize events, workshops, and conferences during National Recovery Month. Check if any local events are happening in your area and actively participate in them. These events often include guest speakers, panel discussions, and personal testimonies that provide valuable insights and support. If there are no events planned, consider organizing one yourself, either virtually or in person, to bring your community together and foster conversations about recovery.
Sharing personal stories of addiction, recovery, and resilience can have a powerful impact. By sharing your own experiences or encouraging others to share theirs, you contribute to reducing the stigma surrounding substance abuse and addiction. This can inspire hope in those struggling and let them know that they are not alone. You can share your story through social media, blogs, support group meetings, or local media outlets.
National Recovery Month is an excellent time to show support for local organizations that provide resources, counseling, and treatment for individuals struggling with addiction. Consider volunteering your time, donating funds, or organizing fundraising events to support these organizations. Your support can make a significant difference in helping them continue their vital work.
Take the opportunity during National Recovery Month to educate yourself and others about addiction, recovery, and available resources. Attend webinars or workshops focused on addiction and recovery topics. Educate yourself about warning signs, prevention strategies, and treatment options so that you can support individuals in need. Share your knowledge with others, whether through social media, blog posts, or informal conversations.
National Recovery Month is also a time to advocate for policy changes and increased access to treatment and support services. Contact your local representatives and policymakers to voice your support for initiatives that address substance abuse and addiction. Join advocacy groups, expedition programs, or awareness campaigns that aim to influence public opinion and create positive changes in the community.
Remember, observing National Recovery Month is not just limited to September. It is an ongoing commitment to support individuals on their journey to recovery, raise awareness, and promote a more compassionate and understanding society. By taking part in any of these ways, you contribute to a collective effort to combat substance abuse and addiction and help individuals reclaim their lives.
Common Substances Abused in Colorado Today
Colorado has unfortunately seen a rise in substance abuse and overdose rates in recent years. Before the pandemic, a small percentage (0.8%) of individuals aged 12 or older engaged in opioid misuse or dependence. Additionally, many reported dependence on illegal substances and alcohol. Between 2015 and 2020, drug overdose deaths surged from 15.4 to 24.9 per 100,000 people, marking a 62% increase over five years. Notably, 65.3% of all drug overdose deaths (987 deaths) in 2020 were attributed to opioid overdoses.
According to a 2020 study, Colorado holds the seventh position among states grappling with significant substance misuse issues. The primary three substances commonly abused include:
Alcohol is the most commonly abused substance in Colorado. Nearly 1 in 4 Colorado adults binge drink, and 15.5% of adults have an alcohol use disorder. Excessive drinking, besides its immediate risks, also has long-term effects on the immune system. This has led to over 2,600 alcohol-related deaths in Colorado since 2017.
Meth is the most commonly abused hard drug in Colorado, with overdose deaths from meth increasing by over 185% from 2015 to 2019. In 2020, there were 314 meth-related overdose deaths in Colorado.
Opioid abuse has become an epidemic in Colorado, with prescription opioids and heroin being the most commonly misused. Tragically, over 900 Coloradans died from an opioid overdose in 2020, over a 30% increase from 2019. Fentanyl, an extremely potent synthetic opioid, has become the primary driver of overdose deaths.
Recovery is Possible at Jaywalker Lodge!
As Recovery Awareness Month comes closer, it reminds us about the journey to feeling better and how important it is to have support and kindness for people going through tough times. Getting better in Colorado is something that can happen; you can contact us to start. We’re here to help and give you hope.
As Chief Executive Officer Bill provides leadership and manage all day-to-day operations of Jaywalker Lodge, an extended care residential addiction treatment program for adult men.