September is National Recovery Month. We are celebrating the millions of Americans in recovery from mental health and/or substance use disorders. In 2014, there were 20.2 million adults in the U.S. who suffered from a substance use disorder. In addition, 7.9 million had both a substance use disorder and another mental health condition. With support, treatment, and strong community connections, people can and DO recover.
What is recovery? Recovery is an individual journey. Each person’s recovery from behavioral health challenges looks different. Recovery always centers around leading a healthy and rewarding life.
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Commission (SAMHSA) defines recovery as “a process of change through which individuals improve their health and wellness, live self-directed lives and strive to reach their full potential.” They outline four dimensions that support a life in recovery:
- Health: Overcoming or managing one’s conditions or symptoms.
- Home: A stable and safe place to live.
- Purpose: Meaningful daily activities like a job, school, family, or volunteering, and the independence, income, and resources to participate in society.
- Community: Relationships and social networks that provide support, friendship, love, and hope.
Learn about the 10 guiding principles of recovery.
How is Recovery Month celebrated? Each year, thousands of programs highlight the successes of those in recovery. People share hopeful stories with their neighbors, friends, and colleagues. Speaking out helps communities understand mental and substance use disorders. The 2020 theme is Join the Voices for Recovery: Celebrating Connections.
These days, we are facing extra life stressors because of COVID-19. It is more important than ever to find creative and safe ways to stay connected. The King County Recovery Coalition and the Washington Recovery Alliance are working to change how we think about recovery. Their work strengthens connections in the recovery community.
How can you get involved? King County Recovery Coalition is hosting a Recovery Month Scavenger Hunt. The event includes pro-recovery podcast, book, and movie recommendations. You can take part on your own or with friends and family - whatever COVID-friendly way works best for you. Sign up for the Scavenger Hunt. Access local resources about recovery. Find events and activities taking place across the country. Check out our National Recovery Month Reads list.
Written in collaboration with Ashley Fontaine, MSW, Strategy & Communications Advisor for WA Recovery Alliance.