National Recovery Month 2019
Today is the kickoff of National Recovery Month. It’s not really a big deal to me, as addiction recovery is part of my day-to-day existence.
That’s not to say that I don’t comprehend the reason for dedicating a month to “increase the awareness and understanding of mental, and substance use, disorders.” I think that Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), a part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, intended well with this monthly designation.
However, to me, the month falls short of reaching me. It seems to lack the complex understanding and compassion of the true meaning of recovery.
September is National Recovery Month. What does it mean to you?
Recovery Month Starts Now:
Alcohol and Substance Abusers Are Not All Alike
Visit the SAMHSA website, Facebook, or Twitter accounts, and you will find tons of broad generalizations. Articles entitled “Here are the Facts About Alcohol,” or “Learn Resources to Prevent Addiction” dominate their site.
One reference even cites, “SAMHSA supports individuals with serious mental illness and serious emotional disturbance.”
To me, it seems like SAMHSA is systematically dropping all addicts and alcoholics into incorrect general categories. From their site, it seems that we are all criminals, we’re all emotionally disturbed, and we all need caretakers because we are incompetent.
These messages seem very wrong to me. The tone, delivery, and terms offend me. This website is not targeted at alcoholics or substance users, per se, but it still irks me.
If we are to truly celebrate a National Recovery Month (which is so unnecessary), it should come from those of us who are living the life of recovery. We are the ones who experience the struggle every day, better our mental health through dual diagnosis treatment, and are trying to reintegrate ourselves into our communities. Those of us in recovery should be encouraging others who are still struggling. This is one area in which SAMHSA falls short.
I want to hear stories of success stories from my fellows. I want to share my pain and struggle with them.
Then again, I want to jump up with joy, cry, and celebrate small victories during recovery. This road is hard for all of us who travel down it.
In a tiny way, this Twitter site for Recovery Month begins to address my struggles.
One major failing point of SAMHSA, in my humble opinion, is that they fail to acknowledge that every person’s path to recovery varies. We all have different definitions of rock bottom, and some of us have had to work harder to climb back out. Each of us has created different memories that cause us shame. We’ve broken laws or hearts of both.
Don’t dump us into a category and count up your data. It’s appalling.
Start Your Recovery Today:
Shared Experiences Unite Us
Suffering itself isn’t unique. But that’s what unites us. We take comfort from knowing that our suffering is not unique, it’s a human universal. Even those who haven’t abused alcohol or drugs face suffering and pain.
Only after we accept that suffering is simply part of life can we achieve success in recovery. The bad times will pass in time and make way for the good. This is human to the core. This is the solidarity that allows me to wake up each day pledging to stay sober another day.
One Day at a Time
One day at a time. It is the motto of the recovering addict. It’s the reason we don’t need a government agency to offer up a month to talk about recovery. We are already hyper-focused on our recovery every single day.
How can the government really help? Instead of designating a meaningless month, look into the current policies. Examine the current failing programming that it funds and the culture they create. Explore why the opioid problem still explodes every year. Create awareness of why alcohol remains so crippling for so many people.
Instead of funding a “month” through clever marketing, spend that money on productive programs.
No Thanks, SAMHSA
So, SAMHSA, thanks for the kind thoughts. You do some great work. But, maybe it’s time to push aside National Recovery Month and help addicts and alcoholics make it through every day. Empower them to recover in a meaningful manner, every day of the year, not just those 30 measly days of September.
Remember that recovery is one day at a time.