Recovery Month 2018 is in full swing! According to the official website, this year’s theme is “Join the Voices for Recovery: Invest in Health, Home, Purpose, and Community. The 2018 theme explores how integrated care, a strong community, sense of purpose, and leadership contribute to effective treatments that sustain the recovery of persons with mental and substance use disorders”. It’s going to be a busy month for the Process community, and we’re passionate about getting you involved, too!
Your Guide to Celebrating Recovery Month:
1. Attend a Recovery Month Event – We can’t speak for the rest of the country, but we are inarticulably blessed in the Southern New Hampshire region. Our recovery community is thriving, and the availably of events reflect this vitality. Recovery will be represented at rallies, fundraisers, art jams, and sporting events. Hope for New Hampshire Recovery will host a Rally4Recovery on the 15th, and the organization was also represented at WZID’s Art Jam Riverside on September 8th. On September 10th, Revive Recovery in Nashua will be hosting a golf fundraiser, and on September 8th, in Medford, Massachusetts, competitors gathered for a Kicking Addiction kickball tournament. Ready for a road trip? On September 29th, Macklemore and Fitz and the Tantrums will headline Recovery Fest in Pawtucket, Rhode Island. While it may be too late to catch some of the aforementioned events, they tend to reoccur on a yearly basis – and there’s still time to get involved! If you’re interested in finding Recovery Month events near you, the Recovery Month website features a convenient event locator.
2. Plan a Recovery Month Event – Do you live in an area suffering from a distinct lack of recovery advocacy and celebration? If so, your community needs you! Recovery Month events can take many forms; don’t be afraid to think outside the box. What type of gathering would appeal to your community? Could you host an open mic poetry night, art gallery, softball game, recovery movie screening, or community barbecue? What about a harvest themed festival or craft fair featuring the workmanship of people in recovery? The possibilities are endless. SAHMSA, the Department of Health and Human Services division responsible for sponsoring Recovery Month, has provided a toolkit for promoting your event.
3. Share Your Recovery Story – The era of speaking about recovery in a hushed tone is over. Why is it essential to “recover out loud”? Well, the media tends to focus on and sensationalize the negative. It’s vital to highlight that recovery is possible and showcase hope rather than despair. It’s equally vital to humanize people suffering from substance use disorder; stigma and marginalization are primary contributors to the tragically high mortality rate. If you’re looking for a platform from which to tell your story, you can submit to Ryan Hampton’s Voices Project or, alternately, request an interview with Human Too. If you’re not in recovery yourself, you can pass on a story from one of these platforms or start your own project.
4. Advocate and Educate – Stigma breeds in the darkness of ignorance. Without an understanding of the biological, psychological, developmental, and social mechanisms at play in substance use disorder, society at large will stay stuck in outdated and inaccurate schools of thought and, therefore, continue to lack compassion. There are many ways to advocate and educate. You can share an article on social media or pass on a book recommendation to your friends or coworkers. You can also host a training at your local community center or write a letter to your local newspaper. Voting is another wonderful way to advocate; research candidates who support recovery initiatives. Learn more about voting at recoveryvoicesvote.org.
5. Donate to a Recovery Organization…Particularly One That Increases Access to Treatment – Recovery Month is all about demonstrating that recovery is possible but, unfortunately, some of our neighbors can’t access treatment due to being under or uninsured. Recovery resource centers provide peer support to community help seekers who may be at their wit’s end. Nashua and Manchester – both cities in New Hampshire – also have Safe Stations contingent on community donations. Anyone seeking treatment can walk into a Safe Station at any time. The S.T.A.R program – an organization providing scholarships to individuals in recovery – also accepts donations. Before donating to any non-profit, be sure to thoroughly research the legitimacy, transparency, and effectiveness of its operations.
6. Create Art Celebrating Recovery – Maybe you want to dedicate part of your Recovery Month to championing the cause, but you don’t know how. Creative expression is one of the best advocacy tools out there. The most effective way to change the human heart is to elicit emotion and empathy – and art is arguably one of the best vehicles by which to inspire action. Whether you’re a photographer, sculptor, painter, filmmaker, illustrator, musician, or writer, your skills are needed to raise awareness and soften hardened hearts.
7. Volunteer – You don’t have to be a licensed alcohol and drug counselor to facilitate recovery in your community. Check with your local recovery center to see how you can help. Can you man the phone line or provide a ride to someone looking for transportation to treatment? If you don’t have a recovery center in your community, do you have the skillset to start your own initiative? Sometimes the most meaningful thing you can do during Recovery Month (and year round!) is to be available to another person. Holding space – i.e. listening to someone without judgement or agenda – is perhaps the most valuable gift of all. Listening is a fundamental part of building connection, and connection is essential to a thriving, recovery-centered community.
8. Be a Positive Role Model – Prevention is a complex and multi-faceted issue, but one way to help is to be part of a cultural shift in attitude toward both recovery and alcohol/drugs. Not only does this entail modeling an attitude of inclusivity and compassion toward people with substance use disorder, it also means evaluating your own relationship with substances and how you represent consumption to young people. Do you use alcohol as a coping mechanism? Do you share social media content depicting and glorifying alcohol/ drug use as a means of stress reduction? Part of being a positive role model is the ability to self-evaluate and implement healthier practices in your own life. Alcohol is a beverage – not a magic elixir. Remember, children don’t do as we say… they do as we do. Taking a moment to self-reflect is a simple, highly powerful way to honor Recovery Month.
We love hearing from you! You can reach us by calling (888) 649-1149 or contacting us here.
Autumn Khavari is the Process Recovery Center’s in-house writer. She received an education in Substance Use Counseling from Beal College in Bangor, Maine.