September is National Recovery Month! Every year, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services (SAMHSA) sponsors Recovery Month with the goal of increasing understanding and raising awareness of mental health and substance use disorders, as well as celebrating those in recovery.
Recovery Month aims to spread the message that prevention works, treatment is effective, and people recover. This time of the year also reminds those suffering from addiction that they are not alone–in fact, according to SAMHSA, 21.5 million people aged 12 or older were classified with substance dependence or abuse in the past year, and as many as 1 in 10 Americans in that age range used an illicit drug in the past 30 days. With such a vast amount of people facing substance use disorders, it is important we give this issue the attention it deserves by increasing awareness and providing those in need with the right tools and education.
Millions of Americas suffering from addiction experience positive life-changing transformations through recovery. SAMHSA defines recovery from mental health or substance use disorders as, “a process of change through which individuals improve their health and wellness, live a self-directed life, and strive to reach their full potential.” This comprehensive definition points to the fact that recovery is different for everyone, and there is no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to treating these disorders. However, no matter which path is taken on the road to recovery, one thing is for sure–recovery from substance addiction brings endless benefits and life improvements. Below are just some of the ways in which recovery can enhance your life.
There are countless physical and mental health benefits brought on by addiction recovery, as substance abuse is linked to many medical issues. Alcohol consumption, for example, can damage the brain as well as most body organs, and is linked to an increased risk of several types of cancer. Heroin is associated with increased risk of infectious diseases, and cocaine use can negatively affect the heart as well as the respiratory, nervous and digestive systems. Other drugs, such as prescription medications, amphetamines, steroids and inhalants, also negatively impact physical health. People suffering from addiction often neglect their overall health. Those in recovery, on the other hand, increasingly engage in healthy behaviors such as regular exercise, healthy eating and even regular dental checkups.
In addition, drug and alcohol addictions often go hand-in-hand with mental health issues. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, nearly one-third of individuals with a mental health disorder abuse drugs and/or alcohol. However, recovery from addiction to these substances can greatly improve a person’s mental health. As a matter of fact, the Life in Recovery Survey reports that recovery reduces untreated mental health problems by 400%.
Professional endeavors are another important life aspect that can be majorly improved by addiction recovery. Alcohol and drugs greatly impact their users’ professional lives with issues such as decreased productivity, employee morale and increased absences. Workplace injuries and even fatalities are also increased by substance use. According to the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, breathalyzer tests found that 16% of emergency room patients with on-the-job injuries had consumed alcohol, and 11% of workplace fatality victims had been drinking.
In addition, recovery can improve employment stability. Workers who have had three or more jobs in the last five years are about twice as likely to be users of illegal substances as those who have only had one or two jobs. According to the Life in Recovery Survey, steady employment in recovery is increased by more than 50%. As the duration of recovery increases, the rates of steady employment increase. The Survey also shows that as recovery duration increases, more people go back to school or obtain other types of job training, and more people even start their own business.
Family and Personal Life Improvement
As many of us have heard before, addiction is a family disease. Whether it is parents desperately trying to heal their child, spouses doing their best to help their partners, or children dealing with the consequences of their parents’ troubles, families are deeply impacted by the perils of addiction. However, recovery helps those whose family lives have been damaged by addiction. Addiction recovery is associated with a 50% increase in family-activity participation, and involvement in domestic violence decreases dramatically.
Those in recovery can also experience significant improvements in their personal lives. Volunteering in the community and/or a civic group increases more and more as recovery progresses, and voting rates rise as well. Also, people in recovery are more likely to pay taxes, have good credit, pay back debts and make financial plans for the future. In addition, more people report having their own place to live, having a bank account and paying their bills on time as recovery progresses.
Life in Recovery is Better
The numbers prove just how much recovery can improve lives, but the most valuable evidence comes from the people who live in recovery every day. Here is what they have to say:
“Today, I have a whole different outlook on life. My life is positive, it’s happy, and I’m able to help other people who are just like me.” – Heather
“Now, I am not scared to face life and life problems that are thrown at me, I have great relationships with my family and I’m no longer controlled by drugs and alcohol.” – Jordan
“When I was using and I was in my addiction, I didn’t even know a life like this was possible. Now, I have my family back in my life who I have a great relationship with and they trust me again. I have friends in my life who actually care about me and my wellbeing.” – Mark
Life in recovery is better in countless ways. Join us in the observance of Recovery Month–visit us on Facebook to see and share recovery facts and stories. You can even find a Recovery Month event in your area, such as Art of Recovery, an open mic and art exhibit in Lake Worth, FL featuring a performance by recovery singer/songwriter, Elizabeth Edwards. Most importantly, if you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, don’t hesitate to reach out for help and get started on the road to recovery.