If addiction is a disease of isolation, recovery is about coming together in fellowship and community. This year, the theme for September’s national recovery month is “Join the Voices of Recovery.” Whether you have experienced addiction yourself, work in the treatment industries, or love someone in recovery, speaking out helps raise awareness and reduce stigma around substance use disorder.
Share your story.
If your life has been touched by substance abuse, your story is one among millions. However, each time a personal story is shared, it creates an opportunity for more people to understand addiction and relate to people who are dedicated to living their lives in recovery.
Sharing your story can be as simple as telling friends or family members that you’re sober. If you’re comfortable answering their questions, there is an opportunity for more education, but just sharing your sobriety is a great start.
If you’re at ease with pubic speaking, you can share your story at National Recovery Month events and rallies, town hall meetings or by speaking to school children. Sharing your story with your wider community is a way to encourage action on a local level and could even save a life.
Support fundraising efforts.
Some people aren’t comfortable sharing their personal stories publicly and that’s entirely fine. A great way to silently support treatment for substance use disorders is by donating to causes that support recovery. National organizations like the or support access to treatment and research to better understand substance use disorders. If you prefer to keep your impact local, find treatment centers that have scholarship funds that help people in your immediate community access treatment.
If you would like to volunteer for causes that support healthy communities, your options are virtually endless. The number of children in foster care has increased exponentially during the opioid epidemic, so mentoring at-risk children or even becoming a respite carer for foster kids is a great volunteer opportunity for people who like children.
You can also help support people in early recovery, by sponsoring someone at your local 12-step meeting or talking with people in treatment. For example, , a treatment center in Miami, has a program where you can speak with and encourage people in rehab (email for more information).
Advocate to government.
While the treatment of addiction has made many advances, there are still government policies that are outdated, such as the medicare exclusion, which prohibits federal funds from being used at treatment centers with more than 16 beds. Let your lawmakers know what issue is important to you, whether it is universal healthcare, more access to medication-assisted treatment, or clean needle exchanges. When writing or calling your lawmaker, keep your message short and polite. Scared to get on the phone? Signing and sharing recovery-related petitions is another great way to make a difference.
Be visible on social media.
People spend hours on social media, so sharing your support for National Recovery Month on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram is an effective, low-key way to show that you support people who are in recovery from substance use disorder. “Like” the and other recovery-related pages and share posts. Consider changing your profile picture to show your support for recovery, and share your sobriety story if you are comfortable.
For years, addiction was wrapped in shame and secrecy. Now, there is a whole month dedicated to dispelling the shame around substance abuse and ensuring a brighter future for anyone who strives to live a sober life.