Hop online or turn on a cable news show and there’s a good chance you will see a breathless, sensational headline about a celebrity’s wild drunken antics or drug abuse drama. But for the millions of people in recovery from substance abuse and addiction, the headlines aren’t entertaining. They have an intimate understanding of the pain addiction causes and the havoc it wreaks on lives. They have an intimate understanding of how hard it can be to stop.
For the past 23 years, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), has set September aside as Recovery Month in celebration of the millions of Americans in recovery. This year’s theme is “Join the Voices for Recovery: It’s Worth It.”
It’s hard to find a person who hasn’t been touched by substance abuse: Danya has worked on a variety of projects related to substance abuse; our founder and CEO, Dr. Jeff Hoffman, is trained as a clinical psychologist and researcher with specialized experience in addiction treatment, tobacco control, HIV prevention, and family relationships; and even I can attribute my very existence to substance abuse.
To be exact, I can attribute it to an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting, where my grandparents met. But that wasn’t the meeting that led them to recovery; it took them each several tries before it stuck.
My grandparents embodied the message that SAMHSA is promoting with their recovery month observance: while the road to recovery may be difficult, “the benefits of preventing and overcoming mental and/or substance use disorders are significant and valuable to individuals, families, and communities.” In other words, getting better is hard, but it is worth it.
By the time I came into the world, my grandmother was clean and sober, and my grandfather had long since passed away (due to factors other than alcohol abuse). I never even knew about her issues with addiction until I was a teenager. All I knew was my grandmother had so much empathy for anyone suffering. Now I realize that empathy was hard won. It came from the years she spent suffering.
My grandmother was one of many. According to recent data released by SAMHSA, in 2010, 2.6 million people (aged 12 or older) who needed treatment for an illicit drug or alcohol use problem received treatment at a specialty facility in the past year. Just imagine how many people there were – that there are – who need treatment but haven’t sought it yet? How can we best reach these people?
Providing vital public health messages to the people we need to reach has been a driving force for Danya International as a company since its inception in 1996. It’s why we have social impact goals that include promoting mental health education. It’s why, as a company, we have gone for and worked on government contracts that reach a variety of types of people and educate about a variety of types of sensitive health issues, including HIV/AIDS, reproductive health, and, yes, substance abuse. And it’s why we continually educate ourselves about and immerse ourselves in the latest technologies so we can help our clients provide the highest level of service possible to those who need it.
People struggling with substance abuse problems need to hear that there is a way forward. Maybe those are the very people Recovery Month is for. Celebrate those who are in recovery, but it is also important to have empathy for and encourage those who are still working toward it – even the people we see the headlines about online and on the cable news shows. It’s worth it.
To learn more about Recovery Month, visit http://www.recoverymonth.gov/.