Breaking Free of Addiction Starts with Breaking the Silence

September has been National Alcohol and Drug Addiction Recovery Month, with the theme, “Join the Voices for Recovery: Visible, Vocal, Valuable!”

A 2013 study by the American Psychiatric Association found an estimated 22.7 million Americans, starting at the age of 12, were in need of treatment for a drug or alcohol problem that had occurred within that year. Yet, a mere 2.5 million people actually received the professional help needed to gain recovery.

There is a reason why phrases like “road to” and “journey through” are used to describe recovering from addiction. Just as with most other diseases, rarely is treatment and recovery from an illness a quick or easy solution. By comparison, conquering drug and alcohol dependency requires even more sustained professional and emotional support than many other illnesses.

 The need for supportive services AND environments is why this year’s National Recovery Month has focused on encouraging those who are at any stage of the addiction cycle to reach out, raise their voice and make the connections needed to heal.

Start the road to recovery

Getting on the road to recovery can be sparked by everything from taking simple steps, to making hard choices for addressing the problem.

 Be visible in your recovery

  • Seek treatment for any diagnosed and undiagnosed mental illness, which is often at the root of drug and alcohol abuse.
  • Make attending treatment facilities and appointments a priority in your life.

Become vocal – speak up and speak out about your addiction

  • Do not remain silent about past or current traumatic life experiences that may cause you to “self-medicate” and mask the pain through substances. Address the issue with the help and support of treatment professionals and those you feel safe confiding in.
  • Be open-minded to reaching out, and to discussing your addiction with others who have taken the same road to recovery. Family, friends, peers, spiritual guides and recovery groups can be great resources for finding those who can identify wity empathize with your challenge ahead.
  • Use your “positive voice” in your approach to recovery. Recovery is not about pain and loss, but healing and gain.

Guard the valuable asset that is your recovery

  • Take personal ownership for getting help and keeping your sobriety.
  • Understanding the recovery process will require attention to your body, mind, and spirit, and the environments in which you live and associate.
  • Become involved in supportive relationships, and remove yourself from those that will jeopardize your recovery.
  • Find and maintain a positive, hopeful mindset about getting into and staying in recovery.

Get help with your journey

  • Self-determination is a valuable tool for conquering substance abuse; however, recovery is most likely to be successful when people seek professional support.
  • The Recovery Month website provides many resources to find professional help. The site helps you find treatment by location, specific addiction and military status. It also provides hotline numbers for immediate help.
  • Check with your health insurance provider for a list of authorized behavioral health specialists and treatment centers.
  • has a free nationwide directory of behavioral health specialists, which you can search by location, ethnicity, language, gender and more. They also provide listings for in-person and online support groups and resources.
  • The National Institute on Drug Abuse can help you prepare for treatment. They have developed a guide with five simple questions you should ask when seeking treatment.

 Continue to be Visible, Vocal, Valuable!

On October 4, those affected by addiction, celebrities, political figures and 600 organizations from around the world will gather at the Washington Monument in Washington, DC for The Day of Silence Ends. This historical concert event will bring people of all walks of life together to call for a change in how addiction is viewed and treated. With a unified voice, we can work to save the lives of the 350 people who die from addiction every day.

Lend your voice to recovery. Share your story, hear from others and find more information on recovering from addiction by using the Twitter hashtag #RecoveryMonth and on the Recovery Month Facebook page.

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