Recovery from addiction is more than sobriety

September is the month of national recovery. An estimated 19.7 million Americans aged 12 and older battled a substance use disorder in 2017, according to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health. It is also estimated that 22.35 million, or 9.1%, of Americans are recovering from a substance use disorder.

31 years ago, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration designated September as Recovery Month in an effort to change the public face of recovery by educating Americans that treatment services for related disorders addiction and recovery support help individuals live healthy and fulfilling lives in their communities. Recovery Month celebrates the millions of people who are recovering from addiction and mental health issues, reminding us that behavioral health is an essential component of overall health, that prevention works, treatment works and people can and do recover.

Sobriety isn’t always fun, and recovery is more complex than not using substances. Recovery is a process of change where people find purpose and learn to live healthily. Many people struggle because of how deeply their lives have been affected.

It helps to remember that drug addiction is a chronic disease of the brain, just as heart disease is a chronic disease of the heart. Having a substance use disorder is not a moral failure, and the person who uses substances is not a bad or flawed person. The reality of most illnesses, including substance use disorders, is that they require ongoing care to be managed. Recovering is a lifelong commitment to taking care of your illness, which won’t always be easy.

Recovery from a substance use disorder is a long term condition and preventing relapses is an ongoing challenge, even after many years of recovery. The sooner treatment is started or restarted after a relapse, the faster a person can regain their health and recover.

Most people who are successful with treatment embark on a lifelong recovery process by getting more treatment as needed, living a healthy lifestyle, and relying on family, friends and other recovering people to help you. get support.

Recovery requires actions rather than intentions. Positive thoughts won’t get you far. Affirmations and positive intentions can be helpful, but recovery from substance use disorders requires action. Taking small daily actions to improve your lifestyle and work towards your goals, like walking for 15 minutes, or signing up for a new class to occupy yourself is the only way forward.

There are people in our community who are ready and willing to help people of all ages begin or maintain their recovery. At the Human Service Agency, we have licensed addiction counselors on staff who conduct individual assessments as well as group opportunities. You can call 605-886-0123 to be directed to someone who can help you. You can also use the 211 Helpline Center information center by calling 211, texting 898-211, or visiting to find additional resources in your area.

Meghan Brink is a Registered Addiction Counselor at the Human Service Agency.Licensed addiction counselor

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