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Healing, Strengthening, and Advancing the Lives of LGBTQ People Seeking Recovery

National Recovery Month Reason to celebrate

Recovery Month is 25, and that’s a Miracle Blackblue_21-150x150Recently, I sat at Union Station in Chicago waiting for my train to Southern Illinois. As I chatted with the lady beside me, I learned she was celebrating her fifth year of being cancer free. I congratulated her on this milestone of recovery from a terrible disease, and then we boarded the train and went our separate ways. While waiting for the train to pull out, I thought how we share health news related to other diseases, but we hide our recovery from mental and substance use disorders. September is the 25th anniversary of officially recognizing and celebrating recovery from mental and substance use disorders. Sponsored by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, the theme this year is Join the Voices for Recovery: Speak up, Reach Out. Recovery is defined as “a process of change through which individuals improve their health and wellness, live a self-directed life and strive to reach their full potential.” Recovery from any disease is a journey that impacts the entire family. This is especially true for recovery from substance abuse and mental illness. While each road to recovery might be individual, there are specifically identified components of the recovery process that are vital to success. Hope, the belief that recovery is possible, that a person can get better, is vital: Early in the recovery process, that hope might need to be provided by a treatment professional, a family member or a loved one. Support comes in many different ways but is a key component to sustaining recovery: A person in recovery needs support and encouragement from others who have been successful in changing their lives. They need encouragement, and they need to be able to talk to someone positive when they are struggling. Relationships and social networks are vital because humans are social creatures. Being a part of a meaningful community helps bolster self-esteem, imparts a feeling of belonging, and supports a belief that our life has value and worth. Whether that connection comes from a self-help community, a faith based organization or volunteering to help others, it is important for the person to have a healthy connection to the community. Spirituality, education, addressing past trauma and meaningful activities: These are pieces of the recovery process. As it is with a doctor identifying the type and dosage of medicine to treat an illness, a person in recovery must find the correct “dose” of these components to assist them in the recovery process. Many of the same interventions described as a part of the recovery process are also needed by the family and friends of the person living with a substance use disorder or mental illness. A family needs to have hope for the future, needs support to help them identify solutions and find strength to move forward, needs to have their own meaningful activities to stay connected to society. This month look around, acknowledge the many people living a positive life, speak up, show support, reach out, provide a helping hand. Recovery month highlights the fact people can and do recover.

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