National Recovery Month: Addressing the Opioid Overdose Crisis

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September 15, 2023

The Opioid Overdose Epidemic

The prevalence of mental illness and substance use disorder currently remains at an all-time high in America. One can’t ignore the increasing number of people turning to opioids, often initially for pain relief from severe pain.

Sadly, while these medications can provide temporary relief, they also come with the inherent risk of addiction and overdose. The misuse of these opioids, whether intentional or unintentional, further complicates the situation and worsens the current crisis.

The current overdose crisis rates shed light on the intense health challenges facing our nation and highlight the escalating risk associated with substance abuse. As opioid overdoses rise, there’s a pressing need for more attention and treatment to prevent further death.

Although we are frequently informed about the overdose epidemic through the media, the statistics paint a disturbing reality:

  • Approximately 51.5 million adults (20.6%) struggle with mental illness
  • About 13.1 (5.2%) have a severe mental illness condition
  • 15.3% of adults report having substance use disorder, with 6.82% using illicit substances.
  • 93.5% of adults with reported addiction or a substance use disorder have not received treatment, putting them at risk of death.
  • Overdose deaths rose to 109,940 between 2022 and 2023

While community leaders continue to search for ways to help the cities and small towns engulfed in the pain and turmoil of the fentanyl-driven overdose crisis, September stands out as a beacon of hope.

This month, recognized as National Recovery Month, is more than just a commemoration; it’s an urgent call to action. It underscores the importance of understanding the underlying pain—both physical and emotional—that often precipitates substance misuse. By acknowledging and addressing this pain, communities can work towards more holistic solutions.

It’s a month dedicated to spreading hope, raising awareness, promoting life-saving tools like naloxone and ensuring that everyone, regardless of their journey or the pain they’ve endured, knows there’s help available and recovery is possible.

Why is National Recovery Month Important?

Starting on September 1, the recovery community celebrates the giant gains made by those who have overcome addiction or substance use disorder, particularly opioid-related ones, and the daily life challenges amplified by mental health issues.

National Recovery Month not only acknowledges the progress of these individuals but also honors the dedicated professional in the recovery sector. These professionals work tirelessly, ensuring thousands of patients attend their appointments, receive life-saving treatment and medication, and continue their recovery journey.

A core aspect of National Recovery Month is its message of hope. It aims to remind individuals living with addiction or substance use disorders, including opioid use disorder, that help is just around the corner. Through the amalgamation of reinforced prevention measures, effective treatment protocols, and robust support systems, recovery is not just a possibility – it’s a reality.

Gray wall with a black sticker showing a face and the text 'Recovery Is Worth It' beneath.

However, National Recovery Month also addresses some significant challenges. One of the most formidable among these is the persistent stigma attached to mental health and addiction treatment.

Regrettably, a large segment of the population remains uninformed about the latest advancements in modern medicine. These advancements pertain particularly to pain management and addiction treatment. It’s essential for individuals to understand that they don’t have to suffer silently, especially when dealing with potent substances like fentanyl and other opioids.

Today, evidence-based treatment methods have evolved. They now include highly effective medications, making the recovery journey smoother. These methods are crucial, helping people overcome strong cravings and urges.

What does Recovery Mean?

Recovery, especially from challenges like opioid use disorder and addiction, can mean a lot of different things for many different people. For some, recovery from opioids might mean regaining control over their daily routines, while for others, it could signify reconnecting with loved ones or rediscovering personal passions and interests.

Yet, regardless of these personal nuances, National Recovery Month emphasizes certain foundational principles that resonate with nearly everyone on the recovery path:


  • Emerges from hope, which is fostered by friends, families, healthcare providers, colleagues, and others who have experienced recovery themselves
  • Occurs via many pathways, which may include professional clinical treatment, use of medications, support from families and in schools, faith-based approaches, peer support, and other approaches
  • Is holistic, meaning recovery encompasses a person’s whole life, including mind, body, spirit and community
  • Is supported by relationships with peers and allies and on social networks
  • Is culturally based and influenced
  • Is supported by addressing trauma, including physical or sexual abuse, domestic violence, war, disaster, or profound loss
  • Involves individual, family, and community strengths and responsibilities
  • Is fostered by respect for oneself and others

These principles of recovery can help people establish a blueprint for their own journey. Still, it’s also important for people living with these conditions to know they are not alone in their efforts. The right support system can help ensure that those in need acknowledge the following four key aspects of recovery.

  1. Health: The person learns to overcome or manage their conditions and symptoms and make informed, healthy choices that support physical and emotional well-being.
  2. Home: It’s also vital to have a stable, substance-free and safe place to live without threats of violence, abuse or coercion.
  3. Purpose: A person in recovery participates in meaningful daily activities, such as a job, school, volunteer opportunities, family caretaking, or creative endeavors, and has the independence, income and resources to participate in society.
  4. Community: Relationships and social networks should provide support, friendship, love and hope. They are built on shared experiences and common goals that inspire and motivate.
Friends with backs to the camera, looking over a wheat field, holding each other in unity.

Promoting Awareness During National Recovery Month

As part of erasing the stigma attached to mental health and addiction treatment, those in the recovery community are urged to show their support during National Recovery Month. Addiction, with its powerful grip, has kept many in the shadows, but this initiative aims to bring the issue and effective recovery practices to the forefront.

It’s a time for those in recovery to celebrate their achievements free from shame and worry of judgment from others. Using the right medications and treatments, countless individuals have managed to break free from the clutches of substance misuse. Their stories serve as a beacon of hope for many.

Amplifying this kind of positivity will help not only those who are just getting started on their paths but also those who have not yet started. The journey of recovery, while challenging, is aided by the numerous treatments and resources available today.

Many people are suffering in silence, still unsure whether they can take the first life-changing steps towards treatment. Yet, openly sharing success stories and resources can instill confidence in them, making them realize that a brighter future without the shadow of addiction is possible.

Easy ways to spread awareness include:

  • Posting infographics and badges on social media
  • Attending recovery community events
  • Participating in community outreach programs
  • Reaching out to those who are having difficulty
  • Sharing stories of personal struggle and success
  • Host an event with peers to celebrate
  • Educating peers on the recovery process
  • Showing gratitude to those who have demonstrated support

Many community events will be held throughout September from coast to coast, so finding ways to get involved will be easy. In tandem with these events, professionals are emphasizing the importance of naloxone, promoting its life-saving capabilities in reversing overdoses.

If there aren’t any events nearby, community members are encouraged to hold their own and can find helpful materials and toolkits from SAMHSA to help make flyers, event notices and much more.

For those who would prefer to participate from home, virtual events will also occur on various social media platforms and private forums where people can come together and celebrate recovery.

Fence by trees with 3 white signs: 'Don't Give Up', 'You Are Not Alone', and 'You Matter'.

If you are currently in the recovery process, you have undertaken a significant journey that many others have yet to embark on. The path to overcoming addiction or substance use disorders is not easy, and it’s crucial to celebrate the milestones you’ve reached, especially during National Recovery Month. Giving yourself the recognition you deserve this month is essential as every step towards recovery from addiction is an achievement.

If you’re considering treatment and haven’t yet embarked on your journey to overcome addiction, there’s no better moment than now. While addiction can feel daunting, the right support can bring a brighter future closer. Our team at AppleGate Recovery stands ready to help you navigate this path. Recovery is achievable for all. Reach out to us today and set out on your transformative journey away from addiction.