September is Recovery Month—dedicated to everyone whose life has been affected by addiction and/or mental disorders. It isn't a holiday, per se, but people who are recovering from severe addiction problems still have lots to celebrate.
Below are some testimonials by people who were afflicted with mental health disorders but who are now in recovery, in which they explain how pivotal Recovery Month is for them. They'd like to share with everyone—drug users, alcoholics, family members, and anyone else touched by the specter of addiction—just what Recovery Month means to them:
I learned, in recovery, that personal healing begins by sharing.
At recovery meetings, I was impacted significantly by others’ words. And every time I share my story, it helps me stay sober. Sharing, when you’re ready, will help you, too. This is what is most valuable about Recovery Month, from my vantage point – apart from pointing those who are suffering from addiction to the range of recovery resources available to them.
At recoverymonth.gov, you can email or fax your personal recovery story to the website or read others’ stories. People with addictions need to read as many recovery stories as possible, as this makes recovery seem like a real possibility and not an impossible dream. And if you’ve been sitting on your own story, write it now. Hundreds, if not thousands of people, may be inspired to quit drinking alcohol as a result of your thoughts. And you will be more committed than ever to your own sobriety.
For those who have been sober for a short period of time—six months or less—are at a critical juncture in their recovery. They need to hear, or read, your stories NOW. I came into recovery in February of 2013, but I relapsed five times. It’s a fact that relapse happens before long-term sobriety can take hold. In fact, relapse doesn’t mean failure – and it didn’t for me. Because I was in the company of alcoholics, they understood how easy it was to relapse. They welcomed me back and were patient with me. I have been sober since July 28, 2013.
For those who have been sober for longer periods of time, sharing becomes important because it reinforces one’s desire to continue to stay sober. And reading how others have beaten their alcoholism inspires one to continue to work – and I mean work – to stay on the right path.
National Recovery Month is a great way to raise awareness for people who are in recovery, their families and anyone touched by addiction. It's a reminder that YOU ARE NOT ALONE! When we band together with hundreds of thousands of other people through social platforms and in our own communities, we don't feel like such misfits or rejects. We realize that, "Hey, there ARE other people like me." And personally, I think there is no better feeling in the world than being in the comfort of people who understand you completely without you having to say a word. That's what recovery is.
This type of awareness is also a good reminder for people in long-term recovery. I never want to forget my last drunk, the feelings of shame, the guilt, regret, and the buckets of self-loathing I had. I don't want to live in them anymore. Being reminded of them is like an emotional gauge. I hear stories of people new to recovery and I get a chill up my spine or a sick feeling in my stomach, kind of like a mini-hangover, and I say, "Oh my God, dear God, I am so very grateful I'm not living that life today." It kind of kicks my resolve up a little and kicks my program into overdrive.
For me personally, National Recovery Month is another platform for me to share my experience, strength and hope. I've got kind of a big mouth and I write about recovery, mental illness and faith a lot because they are so closely intertwined for me. Having a larger audience gets me excited. I love knowing that I might be able to reach just one more person with a message of hope. Because I remember what hopeless feels like. And if I can help one person overcome that feeling, I will be one happy camper.
Recognizing the act of staying sober is the single greatest thing you can do for your recovery. We need to be reminded of how far we have come to realize that for an addict, staying sober is an incredibly difficult ordeal. Because of the stereotypes and perceptions most people have of addicts, it is not ingrained in our nature to be proud of what we have accomplished. In a subconscious way, we think that staying sober is not accomplishment because we are just adhering to social expectations. We need to remember that we are addicts. Our natural state of being is to be drunk, high, or otherwise incapacitated. For those who are sober, the month of September reminds us that every day we stay sober we are taking a stand against our disease and that our lives are a miracle. For those actively using, this positive attention to sobriety and recovery does two things: it destigmatizes the condition by raising awareness of its prevalence, and it gives them hope for changing their own lives. When we honor recovery in the month of September, we encourage positive change.
September is in fact a great month for recovering individuals suffering from mental disorders, addictions and co-occurring disorders. It is a month of celebration and a month to remember that each and every one of us can recover. It’s the time when everybody gathers in one place to show support and love for anyone who was touched by addiction in any way. It is a reminder, a grand and month-long one at that.
But we must remember that it’s not just the month of September that we can celebrate recovery. We can all celebrate recovery every day, even in little ways like treating yourself to a big breakfast, or having a cheat day where you can eat as much as you want. Little things like that can make a difference in a person’s life.
It’s not too late to begin. You can start by sharing this post to your network and start by being active in the lives of your beloved ones.