September is National Recovery Month. We celebrate the millions of Americans who are living their lives in recovery from mental and substance use disorders and honor those who work to make recovery possible. We also take time to remember the people who have lost their lives and those who still need help.
We are in the midst of a public health emergency. An average of 115 people die each day from an overdose of heroin or opioid-based pain medication, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Mental illness, particularly serious mental illness, also presents an urgent need for treatment. People with serious mental illness constitute approximately 20 percent of people incarcerated every year, one-third experience homelessness, and have a suicide rate 25 times that of the general public. Tragically, these and other factors result in people with serious mental illness dying anywhere from 10 to 25 years earlier than the general population.
Even those who don’t face the worst outcomes from having a mental illness or an addiction still feel significant effects. Mental and substance use disorders affect people in every community in the U.S. so we must provide effective treatment and recovery services to all those in need. The National Survey on Drug Use and Health reported that in 2016, approximately 20 million people aged 12 or older had a substance use disorder and about 44.7 million Americans aged 18 and older experienced a mental disorder. In addition, an estimated 2.6 million adults aged 18 or older had co-occurring serious mental illness and substance use disorder.
To help the millions of people with a mental and substance use disorders, Recovery Month serves to educate Americans about the benefits of treatment and recovery services. It also promotes three key messages:
• Prevention works.
• Treatment is effective.
• People can and do recover.
Communities across the country celebrate Recovery Month by hosting events that provide understanding, hope and help to people living their lives in recovery.
The 2018 Recovery Month theme is “Join the Voices for Recovery: Invest in Health, Home, Purpose, and Community”. It highlights how a full range of treatment and support services are important to supporting recovery for people with mental and substance use disorders. Examples of such services include healthcare, housing, employment, education, and social supports. This theme represents the efforts of people working toward recovery, their families and friends, peers in long-term recovery and those who provide care to make recovery possible.
SAMHSA will host the 29th Annual National Recovery Month Kick-off on September 6, 2018. The event will highlight SAMHSA’s treatment and recovery activities as well as share perspectives from the field and people living in recovery. I invite you to watch this special observance via webcast at https://www.hhs.gov/live/live-2/index.html#9156.
Finally, I encourage everyone to get involved. Visit the Recovery Month website to see the available material and products, such as the Recovery Month Toolkit, public service announcements, logos, banners, flyers, posters and more. You can also find out what is happening in your state or local community through the Recovery Month event listing.