By BethAnn Cameron U.S. Army Public Health Command
National Recovery Month is observed in September to raise awareness and educate communities about the prevention, treatment and recovery resources available for mental and substance abuse.
According to the 2012 National Survey on Drug Use and Health by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, more than 22 million people over the age of 12 were addicted to alcohol or drugs; 2.8 million people abused both alcohol and illegal drugs; and 14.9 million people abused alcohol.
Some military service members also have problems with alcohol and drugs. The 2011 Health-Related Behaviors Survey of Active Duty Military Personnel indicated that 8.4 percent of those surveyed drank five or more drinks on the same occasion. Ten percent of service members reported drinking at work and 11.3 percent indicated having problems because of drinking. Misuse of prescription drugs was reported by 1.3 percent of active duty personnel. The negative consequences of excessive alcohol and drug use take a toll on military service members’ lives. It affects work performance, morale and mission. Physical and mental health, as well as families, are affected.
Each day, millions of Americans take steps toward recovery from alcohol and drug addiction. During National Recovery Month, people are encouraged to speak up about addiction and celebrate those in recovery.
According to SAMSHA, recovery is a process of change. Individuals work to improve their own health and live a meaningful life to achieve their full potential. Recovery from an addiction to alcohol or drugs is a complex and active process that involves others. The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence estimates that as many as 20 million people are living in recovery.
Recovery from addiction requires a personal commitment to change. Just like other chronic diseases, such as diabetes, the earlier a person gets help the better. The longer alcohol or drugs are abused, the more important it is to intervene. It involves a process of healing. It involves participating in an intervention to overcome dependence.
SAMHSA states four major domains that are needed to support recovery:
- Health: Managing one’s disease leading to healthier physical and emotional lives.
- Home: Having a stable and safe place to live
- Purpose: Having meaningful daily activities, such as a job, school, volunteer activities and contributing to society.
- Community: Having relationships and social networks that provide support, friendship, love and hope.
Recovery is not just for the person who abuses alcohol or drugs. It is also involves participation of family and friends.
Be part of the solution. Understand the addiction process of alcohol and drugs. A person’s addiction can affect family members and friends. They can see the negative effects and damage caused by a person who is actively drinking or using drugs. They can recognize the signs of alcohol or drug abuse, which can lead a person into needed treatment. It is important that family and friends recognize their own feelings and reactions when dealing with a loved one who is abusing alcohol or drugs, so as not to enable their behavior.
Be supportive. Resilience is important for recovery. Physical, social, emotional and educational supports lead to and build resilience. Support and encouragement from friends and family can be critical in leading people to get help and/or treatment. Stigma, such as, being viewed as weak, prevents individuals from seeking help. Recognize and challenge stigmas that stand as barriers to recovery.
Alcohol and drug addiction remains a serious challenge in our country. With support, people who are seeking help make steady progress each day. Join the voices for recovery.
Promote National Recovery Month activities within your community. Speak Up. Reach out. Give hope to those still struggling with this disease. Resources for treatment and support are available.
The SAMHSA National Helpline, 1-800-662-HELP offers 24-hour free and confidential information on alcohol and substance abuse and referrals for treatment. The Army Substance Abuse Program at your installation offers support for recovery. TRICARE also offers programs and resources for alcohol and drug abuse.
To learn more about National Recovery Month, go to http:// recoverymonth.gov/.