September is National Recovery Month
More than 23 million people in the United States, roughly the size of the entire population of Texas, need treatment for an illicit drug or alcohol use problem. These numbers, taken from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA) National Survey on Drug Use and Health, are troubling especially because only a small fraction -3.8 million– of those 23.1 million people receive treatment.
Tammy Truett-Porter, a substance use professional on Monarch’s Mecklenburg Assertive Community Treatment Team (ACTT), explained that many people do not seek help because of the stigma and shame attached to substance use, as well as the unavailability of treatment in some areas.
But getting help is imperative, and during SAMHSA’s “September is National Recovery Month," Monarch is encouraging people to speak up about mental illness, substance use disorders and the possibility and reality of recovery. This year’s theme is “Visible. Vocal. Valuable!”
The national observance, now in its 26th year, educates Americans on addiction treatment and mental health services that enable those with a substance use disorder to live a healthy and rewarding life and change public perception of mental illness.
“Recovery month is a time to bring a societal problem to light so mainstream America can see what others are dealing with. People always think they don’t know anyone who has a problem, but this month raises awareness that substance use is a medical disorder,” Truett-Porter said.
She explained there is still a pervasive mentality in society that people who have an addiction can “just stop.”
“Addiction is not a decision. A person doesn’t have aspiration of being a crack addict. That is no one’s dream in life. But things happen. Addiction is a progressive disease that leads to death. People arrive there like any other progressive disease,” Truett-Porter explained.
“You see how addiction can decimate a family,” she said. “Addiction is not a solitary disease, its effect on family and friends are dire. I’ve seen the fallout of addiction; children in the system, marriages broken, people can’t keep a job — that’s why it’s important for people to address addictive disorders because of the orbital destruction they have .”
Truett-Porter noted that recovery requires easy access to quality treatment, support, resources and rehabilitation centers. Support is critical because it takes about two years for a person’s brain to reset after chemical misuse while going through post-acute withdrawal.
To achieve success, people also need to be connected to self-help groups where someone else knows what they are going through and can support them. Studies reveal when people went to long-term treatment with a long-term commitment to overcome their addictions, they were able to manage much better than people who simply attended a rehabilitation program.
Truett-Porter is quick to make this point, “rehab doesn’t make people well, rehab allows a person to make a decision whether they are going to embark upon wellness.”
But she believes it can be done. “I have hope for the human condition. You have to have hope for the human spirit. Every single human being has the ability to affect change in their life; I’ve seen it happen countless times.”
Click here for information on Recovery Month.