National Recovery Month: Every Person, Every Family, Every Community

National Recovery Month

September marks Recovery Month, which is jam-packed with events designed to shine a spotlight on—and highlight resources for—addiction recovery

By Alison Jones Webb

Every September, thousands of people around the U.S. gather at rallies, recovery walks, road races and other social events in recognition of National Recovery Month and to celebrate the lives of people in recovery from substance use disorder. Some events are large, with hundreds of people, live bands, speakers, food trucks, outdoor activities, HIV testing and tables for organizations to showcase their treatment and recovery support services. Others are smaller, with 10 or 20 neighbors coming together in solidarity and fellowship.

Recovery community centers and other organizations sponsor community events such as neighborhood cleanups, fundraisers for local nonprofits that serve people seeking recovery, dances, campouts and screenings of films like Tipping the Pain Scale, a new movie that features individuals seeking innovative solutions to the problem of addiction in our communities, or The Anonymous People, which introduced viewers to the world of recovery nearly 10 years ago. Stage lineups at rallies include locals telling their stories of recovery, bands and music celebrating recovery, decision-makers seeking support for policy initiatives, and recovery celebrities. Some feature a recovery countdown, where people in recovery are invited to share the stage sequentially based on their years of sobriety.

All through September, advocates ask government officials to sign proclamations in support of Recovery Month, reminding them that this gesture demonstrates a commitment to improving access to recovery, and that it means the world to people in recovery.

Recovery Month: A Forum for Advocacy

Recovery Month events also include educational webinars and workshops on new findings in recovery research that promote evidence-based treatment and recovery practices.

As with other national health observances—such as Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month in June and National HIV Testing Day on June 27—Recovery Month is supported by a federal government agency and addresses either a Healthy People 2030 topic area or a recommendation from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. In this case, Recovery Week is supported by the  Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and addresses Healthy People 2030 topics related to substance use disorder.

According to Faces & Voices of Recovery, a leading national recovery advocacy organization, the point of all these activities is to celebrate “the gains made by those in recovery from substance use and mental health.”

This year, one of the largest events will take place at the California State Capitol on Sept. 7, as Recovery Happens celebrates its 30th year. Folks from treatment centers, recovery residences and recovery community organizations will gather for a recovery banner contest and other events. Recovery Happens is partnering with Mobilize Recovery, which is going big this year for Recovery Month, taking a cross-country bus tour to highlight the different recovery experiences in regions throughout the country. The monthlong tour will travel from West Coast to East—and back—from Sept. 5 to Oct. 6 and will also include online opportunities to learn and participate.

According to Faces & Voices of Recovery, a leading national recovery advocacy organization, the point of all these activities is to celebrate “the gains made by those in recovery from substance use and mental health, just as we celebrate improvements made by those who are managing other health conditions such as hypertension, diabetes, asthma, and heart disease.” For the past 32 years, Recovery Month events have played a role in the emergence of the New Recovery Advocacy Movement as well.

For more information about an event near you, contact your local recovery community center.

Photo: Joel Mott