National Recovery Month – Still Running Strong

Since 1989, the Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has turned every September into National Recovery Month. All across the country, events are held that promote substance addiction recovery, as well as a sober and healthy lifestyle. Events include but are not limited to walks, runs, concerts, plays, movie nights, athletic challenges, conferences, and even 3,000 people joining hands across a bridge. The events are created by Planning Partners, who “help promote and plan National Recovery Month, disseminate materials, and sponsor events across the country.” These materials, including banners, flyers, and logos, are available free from the Recovery Month website.


Aside from events, National Recovery Month offers treatment support services, a TV and radio show called The Road to Recovery, awards for the best events, and a chance to share personal recovery stories. They are on Facebook, on Twitter as @RecoveryMonth, and even have a YouTube channel. While all of these things help promote and celebrate recovery, and help make it fun, National Recovery Month is really all about the events.

Events all over America

As we near the end of September 2016, the numbers are in for SAMHSA’s 27th annual National Recovery Month: 1,074 events, 23 published proclamations of support, and 2 more personal stories shared, adding to the several that already exist. These events are spread throughout the country, from Maine to California, with some even occurring in Puerto Rico. Every year, National Recovery Month has a different theme as well, this year’s being “Join the Voices for Recovery: Our Families, Our Stories, Our Recovery!”

National Recovery Month events are engaging, community-based, and maintain the spirit of sobriety. Events like the following can be critical steps in recovery. “Coloring the Canal” brought citizens of Indianapolis, Indiana together to color the downtown canal purple on September 1st. “Celebrate Recovery Movie Night” brought approximately 300 people together in various cities in Iowa to watch a movie and celebrate sobriety on September 8th. “Simposio la Recuperacion es Posible” gathered nearly 400 people in Trujillo Alto, Puerto Rico last week for a conference on responding to drug emergencies.

Tomorrow there is free Narcan training in Amityville, New York, and the say after there is Yoga for Recovery in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Click here for a complete event list.

Making a Difference

Well over 10,000 recovery programs and/or facilities actively participate in National Recovery Month. Since 1989, the program has made a major difference in the world of substance abuse recovery. Suzanne Somers used the program in 1991 to share with America her story of recovery. A study was conducted in 1996 by SAMHSA as part of National Recovery Month that focused on the level of impact drug and alcohol treatment has. This study was released by the White House. The list goes on.

In 1999, the TV and radio show was born, providing education on drug addiction and recovery from experts. Throughout all this time, internet activity had been increasing for National Recovery Month, and in 2003 they established their own website. Seven Major League Baseball games sponsored Recovery Month events in 2004, and the next year, Times Square in NYC aired a Recovery Month PSA. The number of national events went from 767 in 2007 to currently over 1,000.

The impact of National Recovery Month is best summed up by their mission statement:

Recovery Month promotes the societal benefits of prevention, treatment, and recovery for mental and substance use disorders, celebrates people in recovery, lauds the contributions of treatment and service providers, and promotes the message that recovery in all its forms is possible. Recovery Month spreads the positive message that behavioral health is essential to overall health, that prevention works, treatment is effective and people can and do recover.”


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