September marks a special time in the recovery community. It’s National Recovery Month, and while we’re on the heels of International Overdose Awareness Day, Recovery Month gives us something to be grateful for. For years, people who struggle with addiction, as well as people who live in recovery, have spent their lives in the closet. They haven’t felt like they can share their pain or their triumph because of the stigma attached to it.
That’s where Recovery Month comes in. Recovery Month is a national observance that is now in its 27th year. It aims to celebrate the accomplishments of people who have reclaimed their lives in long-term recovery and honors treatment and recovery service providers who help make recovery possible. Thanks to Recovery Month, many of us feel comfortable talking about what we’ve been through and where we’re going.
Here are 5 ways you can celebrate Recovery Month.
1. Find a local event near you
SAMHSA has a comprehensive list of Recovery Month events located on their website, where you can search and find one near you. If there aren’t any Recovery Month events near you, there is information on how you can start your own. These events can teach you and your community about local recovery efforts, what else you can do to make your community recovery ready, and actively promote the benefits of recovery in real time.
2. Share your personal story
I cannot stress this one enough! Sharing my personal story of recovery has transformed my life in every way. Recovery Month is the perfect time to do this if you haven’t before. Fortunately, there are many different blogs and websites that collect personal stories of recovery. Our stories have power. By just sharing our personal narratives, we have the chance to connect with others on a human level. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve related to other people’s stories and they’ve related to mine. When people who struggle read or listen to our stories, they can identify and picture recovery for themselves.
3. Write an op-ed or talk to the media
Another good way to get the word out about Recovery Month is to talk to your local media or write an op-ed for a newspaper or other media outlet. These talks or op-eds can be your story, or it could just be why you’re supporting and celebrating Recovery Month. Media outreach can increase awareness of Recovery Month events, clarify the importance of recovery in communities, and the local impact everyone can have by offering help. When communities are recovery ready, people are healthier and happier.
4. Start a conversation
People tend to underestimate the power of a simple conversation. Yes, we live in a digital world and sharing our stories and having conversations on social media are also important. But it’s in speaking with our neighbors, the people at our gym, and other people who we interact with in our daily lives that can really create an immediate impact. Not everyone will be understanding or open-minded, but it’s having these hard conversations that help us grow as people, and help educate the world about Recovery Month and all it has to offer.
5. Educate yourself and others
There is no better way to celebrate Recovery Month than to continue learning about what recovery is, how it’s changing, and what you can do to help this movement. There is a Recovery Month toolkit available on the Recovery Month website that you can download that has statistics, facts, a media guide, an event, and frequently asked questions about this month. It’s also a great time to research any other questions you might have about addiction and recovery, read the latest studies, and take your new knowledge with you as you go out into the world and celebrate.
Recovery Month is a time for us to reflect on the importance of recovery, how it changes lives, the many pathways that people take to get here, and the village it takes to sustain it. Recovery isn’t easy, but it’s an achievement. It saves lives, it makes our world a better place, and it should be celebrated any time of the year, but especially in September.