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US Proclaims National Recovery Month

Hundreds of organizations and events all over the country seek to make addiction more visible and less stigmatized this month.

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By Will Godfrey

09/01/11

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Hot on the heels of yesterday's International Overdose Awareness Day comes the first day of September, AKA National Recovery Month—an observance instigated by the government's Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). It's now in its 22nd year of trying to educate Americans on how treatment and mental health services can turn lives around. But it's fair to say that the disease of addiction, despite killing many thousands of Americans annually, still lags behind conditions such as breast cancer or Parkinson's when it comes to visibility and awareness. This year's efforts to change that involve 140 government entities at state, federal and local levels, as well as hundreds more non-governmental organizations. Over 600 community events are officially listed so far, covering every state but New Hampshire and South Dakota. Mass events include Hands Across the Bridge on Labor Day, when hundreds will join hands over the Columbia River between Washington and Oregon states, and the Philadelphia Walk for Recovery on September 24, a day when many more gatherings are being organized by the advocacy group Faces and Voices of Recovery. Meanwhile, one determined recovering addict named Sandra Huffman is currently undertaking a 1300 mile trek from Florida to Philadelphia to raise money and awareness.

Numerous rehab facilities are getting in on the act. The large Hazelden network, for example, is holding multiple events. Howard Meitiner, the President and CEO of Phoenix House, which runs over 120 treatment programs, told The Fix, "We hope that National Recovery Month will inspire the millions of people who are in recovery to speak out." He added, "The more we increase the public visibility of recovery, the more we can reduce the stigma associated with substance abuse treatment." Phoenix House and The Fix will co-host a Twitter chat about the different paths to recovery on September 21. Media outlets involved in promoting National Recovery Month include Talk Therapy Television and a campaign is urging people to pledge support on Facebook. SAMHSA also offers treatment information and referral online. One of the main aims of all this is to put millions of Americans who have overcome addictions and mental disorders on the map—demonstrating that recovery can and does happen.

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