Blog Post

National Recovery Month

Every September, SAMHSA sponsors Recovery Month to increase awareness and understanding of mental and substance use disorders and celebrate the people who recover.

National Recovery Month

Every September, SAMHSA sponsors Recovery Month to increase awareness and understanding of mental and substance use disorders and celebrate the people who recover. In addition, to celebrating those that recovery, it’s time to analyze why some are successful yet the relapse rate continues to be 85% in the year following treatment.

My daughter Laura struggled with addiction for 15 years, committed herself to many different treatment programs and rehabs over those years, and unfortunately, had her journey to attain recovery often end in relapse soon after treatment and ultimately in an overdose death in December 2017. Now that I have had the privilege of being able to look back on her journey, here are some thoughts about why people relapse and how they can maintain recovery.

Recognize that addiction is a chronic not an acute disease. Laura went to rehab, stayed 30-45 days each time and looked great when she came out. Treatment detoxed her, got her physically healthy and started the recovery process, but planning to manage and maintain her disease long-term was not a big enough part of the plan and process.

Stay connected to treatment longer. Statistics show that an individual that stays connected for 6 consecutive months to the treatment program that offered them rehab will be 20% less likely to relapse. The treatment program was the one that built a strong bond with the individual and would likely be in the best position to continue to treat them, even though they are no longer in acute care.

Deal with the co-existing disorders. Addiction is a brain disorder and often exists in tandem with other brain disorders such as depression, bipolar disease or anxiety. If you don’t deal with the other issues that contribute to a lack of emotional well-being, then the chances of you not being able to manage addiction goes way up.

Implement health and wellness strategies. Although addiction is a brain disease, the way you manage your physical health contributes to either long-term recovery or accelerates relapse. There is a lot an individual can do to manage their disease through good nutrition, exercise, and meditation and mindfulness techniques.

Extend yourself to others who have the disease. Connections to community are critical in staying healthy and in recovery. Those that are willing to help others, sponsor them, and extend themselves are much more likely to stay healthy because they become responsible not only for themselves but for others.

My Takeaways

It’s long past time that we reframe the disease of addiction for what it is, a chronic condition that will be present for a lifetime, but also one that can be managed with the right treatment, health and wellness plan. An 85% relapse rate following treatment indicates that there is a strategic disconnect in how we are managing people that come to programs for help. It’s time we look at all of the tools we have to promote long-term recovery such as extended connection to treatment, diet, exercise, meditation, mindfulness and for some a medication strategy.

The 2019 theme for Recovery Month is: Join the Voices for Recovery: Together We Are Stronger. Together to me means that the individual is supported by the right treatment approach, by family and friends that understand addiction is not a moral failing, but a disease, and a community that is committed to wellness and recovery.

  • Keywords:
  • Recovery month
  • September
  • Treatment