National Recovery Month, which started in 1989, is held every September to promote new evidence-based treatment and recovery practices and to support the proud recovery community and those dedicated to making recovery possible. Recovery is possible for anyone, and healthcare professionals are often responsible for determining how to best support individuals in the recovery process.
For those in recovery, support is not only beneficial, but a vital part of a successful journey to recovery.
Community can make all the difference in recovery and sober living. This means having the support from friends, family members, colleagues and professionals as well. As healthcare professionals, we know that addiction can happen to anyone. In fact, one in 7 Americans reports experiencing a substance use disorder. The recovery journey isn’t just for the person with the substance use or mental health issue—it includes everyone who cares about them, including those working in the behavioral health profession.
Unfortunately, addiction’s effects are widespread, not only affecting the person who abuses drugs and/or alcohol, but also those around them. It’s incredibly difficult to watch a loved one — be it a friend, family member, partner, or even colleague — struggle with alcohol or substance use disorder. There are many ways that we as healthcare professionals can support the recovery process, and we can arm those affected by addiction with the same methods during National Recovery Month and beyond.
- Help those in recovery determine who is in their support network. Making the powerful decision to begin the journey to recovery from drug and/or alcohol addiction can be life-changing for one’s future. This enormous life change can feel isolating, which is why it’s more important than ever to identify and lean on one’s support system. Personal support systems can include family members, friends, coworkers, members of a support group and anyone else supporting the recovery process.
- Check in often, from a place of support and care. Having calm, well-thought out conversations while casually checking in on the person in recovery shows genuine care. It’s important to be mindful of where the person is in the process, and follow up along the way, not just during the beginning stages. This also helps support people to keep track of how those in recovery are coping.
- Help those in recovery recognize that recovery is a process — a marathon, not a sprint. Continuing care during the recovery process is key, as there is no “quick fix.” Be patient with the process. Like any journey in life, recovery is not always easy. It’s typically not a straightforward path. Recovery comes in stages — there will be challenging times, and may even be some setbacks along the way. Resilience is not only key to someone in recovery, but to the loved ones in their lives as well. The listening ear of someone with compassion, empathy and a lack of judgment can help restore hope. This small gesture goes a long way.
- Don’t offer advice, but do offer resources that can help. Finding out what help is available is a great way to connect and show care. Arming yourself with the tools to start conversations about prevention, treatment and recovery is important. Learn more about how you can support someone through recovery at www.samhsa.gov/find-help/recovery. Remember, even if you think you know best, don’t offer advice — but do find out about the different treatment options and programs in your area.
- Remain positive and hopeful. There’s power in positive thinking, and expressing those positive thoughts to someone who is deep in the trenches of recovery can really help them see the light at the end of a potentially long and difficult struggle. Change is possible, and taking the path to recovery means changing the course of the future. Staying positive and sharing hope as the person in recovery faces the challenges ahead can help them stay the course.
Interested in becoming an alcohol and drug abuse counselor? Addictions professionals not only provide hope to individuals and families, but they also save lives. If you want to help those on the road to recovery, Addictions Training Institute can help give you the tools you need to change the world. Alcohol and drug counselors are in high demand, and can truly help improve the lives of those suffering from this disease. Learn more about our program here.
We all have to work together to help prevent substance use disorder, support those who are still struggling, and help people in recovery find the resources they need to live full and healthy lives.