September is National Recovery Month!
Americans have never let little things like calendars stand in the way of their plans. That’s why we traditionally wait till the end of Labor Day Weekend before marking the start of September. And since this is just the beginning of our September, we’re right on time to recognize the wonder that is National Recovery Month.
Put into play by the great good folks at the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) long before recovery was a thing and carried through by a bevy of formidable government entities, National Recovery Month has become the be-all to end-all addiction. Everyone gets in on the action. From local treatment centers, meeting houses and sober homes, to national heavyweights like the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the White House. In fact, President Biden issued a Proclamation honoring the participants and detailing the many ways his Administration has shown support for the effort.
National Recovery Month needs such stellar support of course, especially if we’re ever going to stop drug overdoses from breaking into annual six figures. One look at the incalculable amount of organizations involved in the monthlong event, and you’ll see it deserves all the support and more.
But first a little history:
The History of National Recovery Month
In a September 7, 2018 post on the Recovery Research Institute’s Recovery Answers we learned that National Recovery Month began way back in 1989 under the banner Treatment Works! Month. The goal was initially “to honor the hard work of addiction professionals.” And that’s the way it stood for nearly a decade.
“Then in 1998, it was decided to rename the event National Alcohol and Drug Addiction Recovery Month… [and] also draw attention to the work of individuals suffering from substance use disorder.”
A decade and change later (2011) the event was transformed into what we now know as National Recovery Month. “This most recent change,” writes the RRI, “was done in an effort to not only include healthcare professionals and individual patients, but to also include segments of behavioral health.”
“Prevention works, treatment is effective, and people can and do recover.” SAMHSA
What is National Recovery Month?
National Recovery Month is pretty much just what you’d expect it to be. The only difference, perhaps, is in where some organizations place their emphasis. Since everyone on the same team though, it really doesn’t matter what aspect gets most emphasized. In fact, the variety of definitions only reveals the scope of the effort.
And boy, does National Recovery Day boast some serious scope. SAMHSA, which has been in on the action from the get, says they use the month-long observance “to promote and support new evidence-based treatment and recovery practices, the nation’s strong and proud recovery community, and the dedication of service providers and communities who make recovery in all its forms possible.” While the CDC says National Recovery Month is the perfect time “to promote and support new treatment and recovery practices, the nation’s strong and proud recovery community, and the dedication of service providers and communities who make recovery in all its forms possible.” Both SAMHSA and the CDC also provide rather extensive partner tool-kits.
Meanwhile HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra issued a statement claiming that “National Recovery Month represents an opportunity to recognize the strength and resilience of individuals who have triumphed over addiction and mental health challenges.” The good Secretary’s statement didn’t stop there though. It was anchored with testaments from well over a dozen federal agency heads and principals, including FDA Commissioner Robert M. Califf, M.D. and U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy.
A Presidential Proclamation
Speaking of statements, President Biden’s Proclamation came down squarely on the side of recovery support, both in word and in action.
The American Rescue Plan is perhaps chief among the recovery-friendly actions cited by the president. Then again, any effort that’s “delivered more than $5 billion to expand mental health and substance use disorder services” is probably going to rank high. But the Biden Administration has established a climate in which all of its agencies can get in on the action. As proof the statement cited both SAMHSA’s Suicide and Crisis Lifeline (9-8-8) and the Department of Labor’s Recovery-Ready Workplace Resource Hub. The president also mentioned the FDA’s “approval of two Naloxone products for over-the-counter use.”
Healing Properties is wholeheartedly behind the Biden Administration’s life-affirming efforts. In fact, we even said so; citing the 988 Lifeline and the recovery-friendly workplace initiative, as well as OTC Narcan.
As for words, well, here’s how President Biden led off his Proclamation:
During National Recovery Month, we celebrate the more than 20 million Americans who have had the courage to seek help for substance use disorder, showing millions of others that recovery is possible. We honor their resilience and recommit to making sure that every American has access to the services and support they need to rebuild lives of purpose and hope.
Recovery Month Events
Every town, city, village, borough boasts a small slew of National Recovery Month events. Some of those activities are hosted by local treatment centers, sober homes or AA/NA chapters; others are organized either by local nonprofits or state and local agencies. Whoever the host though, the event is generally tied to one of the many national efforts.
National Recovery Month Kickoff Luncheon
Before the proceedings can truly begin however, SAMHSA is co-hosting a Recovery Month Kickoff Luncheon. The festivities take place on September 7, from Noon to 2pm in the Columbus Club at Union Station, Washington, DC. If by chance you can’t make it, fret not. According to co-hosts Faces & Voices of Recovery, who’ve partnered with SAMHSA and now handle much of Recovery Month’s heavy lifting, the luncheon will be live-streamed on Facebook, YouTube and LinkedIn.
And from the looks of the luncheon’s list of distinguished speakers, streaming does indeed seem to be in order.
- Dr. Rahul Gupta, Director, Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP)
- Dr. Miriam E. Delphin-Rittmon, Assistant Secretary for Mental Health and Substance Use in the U.S Department of Health and Human Services, Administrator of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)
- Dr. Arthur Evans, Jr., CEO and Executive Vice President, American Psychological Association (APA)
Walk for Recovery
Immediately following the Kickoff Luncheon, SAMHSA Assistant Secretary Delphin-Rittmon will lead a cavalcade of like-minded federal agencies, recovery organizations and allies in the first ever Walk for Recovery. Again, Faces & Voices of Recovery are partnering with SAMHSA. And the two are being supported by All Rise (aka the National Association of Drug Court Professionals) and Fors Marsh consultants (both Gold Sponsors), CADCA (Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America), the National Council for Mental Wellbeing, Recovery Cafe Network, Recovery Research Institute, Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School Teaching Hospital (Silver Sponsors), Unity Recovery, American Society for Addiction Medicine (ASAM) and the Legal Action Center (Bronze).
That’s not all, of course. Not even close. Heck, SAMHSA alone cites another 30+ events throughout the Recovery Month. Add those in your town and, well, we’ve more than enough to support the cause.
With Great Gratitude
Healing Properties wishes to express our wholehearted thanks to SAMHSA for founding National Recovery Month, as well as for being the impetus that’s allowed it to spread from sea to shining sea. Sure, the CDC, the HHS and the White House, are formidable friends, with formidable strengths of their own. Yet even they will admit that they’re even stronger in an alliance. It heartens us to see that alliance united on behalf of recovery.
We’d also like to express a hale and wholehearted thanks to Faces & Voices in Recovery. The recovery advocates have been directly aiding and abetting SAMHSA since 2020. And we all benefit from the organization’s energy, empathy and zeal.
Thanks too to all the Luncheon and Walk sponsors, as well as the distinguished list of speakers. Mostly though, we thank each and every American who’s become a part of the recovery movement. With over 20 million engaged in some form of recovery, chances are better than good that one of those people is you. If it isn’t, then it’s someone you know. Whichever the case, we owe it to our neighbors, as well as our loved ones, to support recovery in every way, shape or form. And as heart-beating members of humanity, we also owe it ourselves.
If you or someone you love has substance abuse issues, please give us a ring. We’ve been helping men find recovery since 2002; we’d be honored to help you too.
Image courtesy CDC.