Mental and substance use disorders affect people from all walks of life and all age groups. These illnesses are common, recurrent, and often serious, but they are treatable and many people do recover.
National Recovery Month is a national observance held every September to raise awareness about how substance use treatment and mental health services can enable those with a mental and/or substance use disorder to live a healthy and rewarding life. It is also a way to commemorate the progress that so many have made in their recovery. Recovery Month reinforces the positive message that behavioral health is essential to overall health, that prevention works, and that treatment is effective.
Mental disorders involve changes in thinking, mood, and/or behavior. These disorders can affect how we relate to others and make choices. Mental disorders take many different forms, with some rooted in deep levels of anxiety, extreme changes in mood, or reduced ability to focus or behave appropriately. Others involve unwanted, intrusive thoughts and some may result in auditory and visual hallucinations or false beliefs about basic aspects of reality. Reaching a level that can be formally diagnosed often depends on a reduction in a person’s ability to function as a result of the disorder.
- Anxiety disorders are the most common type of mental disorders, followed by depressive disorders. Different mental disorders are more likely to begin and occur at different stages in life and are thus more prevalent in certain age groups.
- Anxiety disorders are characterized by excessive fear or anxiety that is difficult to control and negatively and substantially impacts daily functioning. Fear refers to the emotional response to a real or perceived threat while anxiety is the anticipation of a future threat. These disorders can range from specific fears (called phobias), such as the fear of flying or public speaking, to more generalized feelings of worry and tension. Anxiety disorders typically develop in childhood and persist to adulthood.
- Anxiety disorders may be caused by a combination of genetics, biology, and environmental factors. Adverse childhood experiences may also contribute to risk for developing anxiety disorders.
Substance use disorders occur when the recurrent use of alcohol and/or drugs causes clinically significant impairment, including health problems, disability, and failure to meet major responsibilities at work, school, or home.
- Did you know that slightly more than half of Americans aged 12 or older report being current drinkers of alcohol?
- According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), alcohol use causes 88,000 deaths a year.
- Prescription drug misuse and abuse is the intentional or unintentional use of medication without a prescription, in a way other than prescribed, or for the experience or feeling it causes. This issue is a growing national problem in the United States. Prescription drugs are misused and abused more often than any other drug, except marijuana and alcohol. This growth is fueled by misperceptions about prescription drug safety, and increasing availability.
- Prescription drug abuse-related emergency department visits and treatment admissions have risen significantly in recent years. Other negative outcomes that may result from prescription drug misuse and abuse include overdose and death, falls and fractures in older adults, and, for some, initiating injection drug use with resulting risk for infections such as hepatitis C and HIV.
Too often it seems that the negative side of recovery is exposed, but there are millions of Americans whose lives have been transformed through recovery. Since these successes often go unnoticed by the broader population, Recovery Month provides a vehicle for everyone to celebrate these accomplishments. Each September, tens of thousands of prevention, treatment, and recovery programs and facilities around the country celebrate National Recovery Month. This is accomplished by sharing success stories with neighbors, friends, and colleagues. In doing so, everyone helps to increase awareness and furthers a greater understanding about the diseases of mental and substance use disorders.
This year marks the 27th annual National Recovery Month and focuses on the achievements of individuals who have reclaimed their lives in long-term recovery and honors the treatment and recovery service providers who make recovery possible. The Recovery Month theme is carefully developed each year to invite individuals in recovery and their support systems to spread the message and share the successes of recovery.
Recovery is never the same for any two individuals, but what is always the same is that the individual decides he or she needs to take those first steps to recovery by choosing to tell someone and ask for help! Any recovery takes personal dedication as well a support system.
There are many programs and networks that range from inpatient residential treatment programs or rehabilitation, to therapy/consultation with counselors or clergy members. Medical professionals and support groups can help in developing positive, healthy methods of coping and can help an individual live a happy, addiction-free life.
Go here for more information about Recovery Month, as well as for resources and treatment center locations.