In 1989, The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMSHA) launched National Recovery Month to increase awareness surrounding mental health and substance abuse. At the same time, it wanted to celebrate the success stories to illustrate that living in recovery is possible. National Recovery Month is a national observance held every September to educate Americans that treatment and support services can enable recoverees to live healthy and rewarding lives. Now in its 31st year, National Recovery Month celebrates the gains made by those living in recovery.
Public Advocates for Community Re-Entry (PACE), a vital part of the Martindale-Brightwood neighborhood in Indianapolis, opened the doors to its Recovery Resource Center (RRC) three years ago, offering recovery support services and resourcing. This is a priority initiative of the Quality of Life Plan developed by this community. Since its start, PACE RRC offers partners and the community an opportunity to gather annually to celebrate recovery. PACE has welcomed some 200 persons annually to learn more about pathways of recovery, stigma reduction and community supports. In 2019, state Rep. Robin Shackleford added her support with the addition of a 5-kilometer fun walk bearing her name and showcasing the streets of Martindale-Brightwood.
After 30 years of sponsoring National Recovery Month, SAMHSA is handing reigns over to the recovery community. PACE and its partners consider it a priority to celebrate recovery in 2020, even at this intersection with COVID-19. Large group celebrations have been reassessed in consideration of overall community health, but PACE and partners wish to share reasons and ways to Celebrate Recovery safely in 2020.
“COVID-19 is exacerbating the overdose epidemic in the United States and Indiana. Now, more than ever, Americans need to know that recovery is a unique journey that everyone is welcome to start and many have been successful at. But please remember, life is a necessary but not sufficient part of the recovery process. So until that recovery journey starts, our focus needs to be on keeping people alive.” -Dr. Brad Ray, Wayne State University
“It is so vitally important for everyone to celebrate National Recovery Month. It comes around once a year in September, but more importantly it is an opportunity to recognize people who have overcome substance abuse and related issues. So many of our children and families who find themselves involved with the Juvenile Court system wrestle with these challenges on a daily basis. We celebrate and embrace those persons who can claim victory.” -Marion County Juvenile Magistrate Judge Geoffrey Gaither
“The media and stories around substance use only show one side. By putting a face on recovery, we provide hope and optimism that positive change is possible for anyone. We allow ourselves the ability to be known by who we are now, not who we were previously.” -Justin Beatty, Director-MHAI Training Institute, Deputy Director-ICAADA, Director-IAPRSS
“Throughout the year, most of the focus is on individual recovery. A national recovery month celebration provides a space for the community to come together and celebrate individual achievements, as well as bring focus to policy and system issues impacting treatment and resource access issues that impact recovery.” -Dennis Watson, Ph.D. Senior Research Scientist, Chestnut Health Systems
“Celebrating National Recovery Month is important as former members of the military and persons with past justice involvement battle alcohol and/or substance abuse. They need to know that (1) becoming addicted to substances after traumatic experiences is not out of the ordinary, (2) that admitting you have an addiction is okay and (3) that seeking out help is what they should do. There is no shame for falling into the "trap" of addiction. Many Famous Historical figures battled with addictions including at least one of the U.S. founding fathers and at least one of the Big 3 World War II heroes.” -Charles Tony Knight, President, Martindale Brightwood One Voice Neighborhood Association
“In my line of work, most of my cases have something to do with addiction. Active users commit crimes of theft, robbery, battery, domestic battery, attempting to get funds to support the addiction. In 35% of workplace violent crimes, the offender is believed to be under the influence of alcohol or drugs. National Recovery Month is important because while using, one has little or no idea of their behavior, the hurt or suffering caused and don’t approach the idea of recovery until they have exhausted all other avenues. Once the recovery process begins, they begin to see past the fog, to realize a better sense of LIFE. How heroic is that? From being lost to being awakened. We need to celebrate this. A new and better life to live and enjoy.” -Donna Hayes, Marion County Sheriff’s Department
“Being a part of the Martindale Brightwood community for over 20 years working to help families, youth and seniors; it becomes imperative to celebrate recovery from every type of trauma that has affected the Black community. During this COVID 19 period, families may have a tendency to focus on the lack in a quality of life. However, miracles and recoveries are happening every day. We stop and celebrate the victories along the way so that every event or experience will not seem like a destination but part of sustaining journey.” -Gina Lewis-Alexander, ED, Oasis Christian CDC
Other Celebration Ideas
• SAMSHA Webinar on September 17: Communities Supporting Recovery
• The Indianapolis Reorder and PACE present a virtual town hall, “Voices of Recovery,” at 10 a.m. Sept. 19 on the Recorder’s and PACE’s Facebook pages.
• Indiana State Museum offers “FIX: Heartbreak and Hope Inside Our Opioid Crisis”
• Find Indiana Recovery Network events here.