GUEST BLOG: National Recovery Month Is a Time to Celebrate Our Shared Successes

By: Acting Secretary Jennifer Smith, Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs

August 29, 2017

One in four individuals in the commonwealth is impacted by substance use disorder (SUD). You, or one of your family members or friends, could be struggling with addiction to alcohol, opioids, or other drugs.

In Pennsylvania, you have access to immediate help. If you or someone you know is suffering and need treatment for a drug or alcohol problem, please call 1-800-662-HELP (4357). You will be connected to a person who can assist you in finding help nearby. This toll-free 24/7 helpline, started by Governor Tom Wolf’s administration in November 2016, has received 15,000 calls, and connected many callers to detox beds and treatment providers.

The disease of addiction is devastating – and people can easily lose hope. Last year, we lost 13 Pennsylvanians a day to drug overdoses, an astounding 37 percent increase in drug-related deaths from 2015, according to a recent report by the Drug Enforcement Administration’s Philadelphia Field office.

But there is good news to share – treatment is effective and recovery is possible. September is National Recovery Month and Pennsylvania is celebrating progress.

People successfully complete treatment and live in recovery. It may be the first, second or subsequent treatment episode that works – everyone is different and different treatment methods work for different individuals – but people do recover. An estimated 1.2 million people live in recovery in Pennsylvania with an estimated 23.5 million living in recovery nationwide.

If you or someone you know is living in recovery, we’d like to hear your story. I encourage you to submit your personal recovery story to the Pennsylvania Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs. We will include some of these stories of recovery from drug and alcohol addictions on the department website and on our social media accounts. Your story may include information and advice that would be helpful to others in their recovery journeys. You can also include photos or other images.

National Recovery Month, in its seventeenth year as noted by the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), is a celebration of the accomplishments of people whose lives have been transformed through recovery. The 2017 theme is Join the Voices for Recovery: Strengthen Families and Communities, recognizing the key role that family members and local communities play in the recovery journey.

Many local recovery events and celebrations are scheduled throughout the month of September, and I hope you are able to attend one or more. At a time when the opioid epidemic is still gripping our state and nation, it’s important to recognize and support the efforts of those trying to recover and the people who help them in their recovery journey.

Please join us for the Pennsylvania kick-off of National Recovery Month on Wednesday, Sept. 6, at 10 a.m. at the Capitol Rotunda, 501 N. 3rd St., Harrisburg. Let’s show our fellow Pennsylvanians that we believe in treatment, support people living in recovery, and together we can celebrate our shared successes.


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