A week or so ago I received an email that provided some startling statistics. In 2017, we lost over 70,000 individuals to overdoses. There was a three and a half-fold increase in cocaine overdoses since 2010. And opiates were responsible for almost 30,000 deaths.
While these numbers are sobering, I also know that there are millions of individuals who are in treatment right now, and millions more who are now in recovery and living full and hectic lives. And that’s where the focus of this month’s column is about.
Oftentimes, individuals who experience a mental or substance use disorder feel isolated and alone. Yet, every year, millions of Americans experience these conditions. It’s important that we offer support to individuals facing mental and substance use disorders. In fact, we need to create environments and relationships that promote acceptance.
Support from families is essential to recovery, so it’s important that family members have the tools to start conversations about prevention, treatment, and recovery. Too many people are still unaware that prevention works and that mental and substance use disorders can be treated, just like other health problems.
Having worked in the substance use prevention and recovery Field for over 12 years, I have personally witnessed the positive reality of recovery. Individuals who embrace recovery achieve improved mental and physical health and form stronger relationships with their neighbors, family members, and peers. We need to make more people feel as though recovery is possible.
Mental and substance use disorders affect people of all ethnicities, ages, genders, geographic regions, and socioeconomic levels. They need to know that help is available. These individuals can get better, both physically and emotionally, with the support of a welcoming community.
Families and communities can find hope and spread the message that recovery works by celebrating the annual National Recovery Month (Recovery Month), an initiative sponsored by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
Wellspring Center for Prevention is one of several area organizations who will be celebrating Recovery Month by holding a variety of educational events. These events are designed to honor individuals and families who are in long-term recovery. To find these events, go here.
If you can attend any of these events, you should know that your attendance will demonstrate the support of the recovery community, including those who provide prevention, treatment, and recovery support services.
I urge all community members to join the celebration and help stem the incidence of mental and substance use disorders. Let people know that free, confidential help is available through Wellspring’s phone and web-based help lines. To reach us by phone just call 732-254-3344 between 8AM and 9PM. Our online self-help tool is available at https://wellspringprevention.org/help-tool.
Offering support to those experiencing mental and substance use disorders can make a huge difference. Together we can help others realize the promise of recovery and give families the right support to help their loved ones.