September is National Recovery Month

National Recovery Month is an annual campaign held every September to promote and support new evidence-based treatment and recovery practices, the nation’s strong and proud recovery community, and the dedication of health care providers and communities who make recovery in all its forms possible.

Alcohol and drug dependence and addiction, known as substance use disorders, are complex medical problems. Although addiction is considered by most medical researchers to be a chronic illness that can be successfully managed, like diabetes or high blood pressure, social stigma still prevents many people from getting the help that they need. However, recovery from substance use disorders is possible and many people can and do get better.

Treatment is the first step to recovery. Depending upon a thorough assessment of the person’s needs, treatment may involve:

  • Detoxification. Medically supervised withdrawal uses medication to help people withdraw safely from alcohol or drugs.
  • Outpatient or intensive outpatient programs
  • Partial hospitalization or day treatment
  • Inpatient treatment
  • Residential programs
  • Medication-assisted treatment (MAT)

Recovery from alcohol and drug problems is a process of change. Besides abstaining from the substance, the person learns how to manage relapse triggers and achieve better health and wellness, and improved quality of life. Sometimes there is a co-occurring mental health disorder that also needs to be treated.

About half of people who complete treatment for the first time continue their recovery, but others may relapse and need additional treatment or follow-up. Relapse is often a part of the recovery process and does not mean that treatment has failed, but that treatment needs to be adjusted or reinstated, or that another treatment should be tried.