September is alcohol, drug addiction recovery month

by Gina DeMent, Public Information Officer
Five County Mental Health Authority

Addiction affects millions of people every year, with 69 percent of Americans reporting that they know someone who struggles with alcohol or drugs.

In 2006, more than twenty million people in this country were classified with substance dependence or abuse (making it more common than coronary heart disease), yet only four million received treatment. For those suffering from substance use disorders, asking for help and finding treatment is essential to getting back to a healthy, fulfilling life through recovery.

In conjunction with the 19th National Alcohol and Drug Addiction Recovery Month, the County Commissioners in Franklin, Granville, Halifax, Vance and Warren Counties proclaimed September as Recovery Month in North Carolina.. The theme of this year’s observance is “Join the Voices for Recovery: Real People, Real Recovery.”

Carol Evans is a real person and an example of real recovery. She started drinking alcohol at the age of twelve. By the age of thirteen, she was using illegal drugs ranging from marijuana to methamphetamine. In and out of jail from ages fifteen through 28, she came to the realization that while she wanted to be free of her addiction, she didn’t know how.

In 2000, a judge ordered Carol into outpatient treatment, and her life changed.

“In treatment, I learned what recovery is and that without this recovery process, abstinence is short-lived,” said Carol. “The most important thing I learned was ‘if nothing changes, nothing changes.’ I left treatment with the idea that everything has to be different in my life, if I hope to have different results.”

In 2003, Carol graduated from college with honors and obtained certification as an alcohol and drug counselor. “Recovery has given me a new perception of what living is,” said Carol. “Recovery is a shot at real life…finally!”

Nationally, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reports 22.6 million people age twelve or older in the U.S. have faced a substance abuse disorder in the past year. Substance use disorder means that a person is dependent on or abuses alcohol or drugs, including the non-medical use of prescription drugs. According to the North Carolina Department of Public Health, alcohol is the substance most abused by North Carolinians. It is important for all people to understand that substance abuse disorders are a serious, but treatable, health care problem and treating substance abuse like other chronic diseases, we can improve the quality of life for the entire state.

In our own community people suffer from substance use disorders, and countless numbers of them do not receive the same access to health care options they would if they had other chronic disorders, such as diabetes. These people are all around you — your neighbors, colleagues, and others. Substance use disorders take an enormous toll on our community and it is time that we support those who need our help. By assisting those in need of treatment onto a path of recovery, we not only aid them in regaining their lives, but can also help their families on a path of their own recovery from addiction’s impact, which will benefit the entire community.`

There are a range of treatment and recovery programs in the Five County area. The following substance abuse treatment opportunities are available in the Five County area:

  • DWI Assessment and Treatment, Substance Abuse Individual and Group Therapy for adults and children/adolescents
  • Court ordered substance abuse assessments and treatment for children and adolescents (MAJORS program)
  • Intensive Outpatient Treatment for adults needing a more in-depth and intensive level of treatment
  • Family counseling and education for coping with a family member with a substance abuse problem
  • Residential half-way houses for men and women coming out of inpatient or residential substance abuse treatment who need the security of a stable environment (these houses are available for those in outpatient treatment as well)
  • Oxford type or three-quarter houses for adults who are advanced in their recovery but who need housing and assistance in obtaining employment, housing and greater independence in daily living
  • Outpatient treatment for those who have both a substance abuse and mental health diagnosis.
  • Recovery programs include:

    Alcoholics Anonymous

    AA is a voluntary, worldwide fellowship of men and women (and teens) from all walks of life, aiming to recover from alcoholism, by sharing their experiences, strength and hope, following a twelve-step program. AA meetings are held at various locations throughout the five counties.

    Narcotics Anonymous (NA)

    NA is a nonprofit fellowship or society of men and women for whom drugs had become a major problem. The members are recovering addicts who meet regularly to help each other stay clean. There is only one requirement for membership, the desire to stop using.

    Celebrate Recovery, and other faith-based recovery groups.

    Celebrate Recovery’s focus is to fellowship and celebrate God’s healing power in our lives through Eight Recovery Principles and the Christ Centered Twelve Steps.

    Family and friends of people with alcohol and substance abuse problems also need support and services to help them cope with their loved ones’ illness, understand and deal with the recovery process, and have a place to share concerns and gain strength. That is one of the many reasons why the AlAnon and AlAteen 12-step support programs were created.

    AlAnon is a support group which helps friends and families of alcoholics recover from the effects of living with the problem drinking of a friend or relative.

    AlAteen is a support group which helps teens aged 12-20 recover from the effects of living with the problem drinking of a friend or relative.

    Understanding recovery and its importance in our society is key to helping those who need or have undergone treatment for addiction. Recovery occurs as a person begins to make better choices about his or her physical, mental and spiritual health. Recovery begins with a decision to deal with the addiction, but continues far beyond treatment and reaching abstinence. When doors are open to recovery, more people will seek treatment, reclaim their lives and health, and empower others to change. Learning about these issues will make it easier to break down the barriers to treatment, and you will be investing in the best interests of those in our community.

    Throughout September, events nationwide encourage communities, civic leaders, employers, treatment and prevention organizations, faith-based organizations, and the recovery community to address the continued need for treatment, overcome the barriers that prevent people from seeking help, and ensure access to local treatment facilities.

    To promote the healing message of recovery, Five County Mental Health Authority is participating in the 19th annual observance of National Alcohol and Drug Addiction Recovery Month, a nationwide initiative every September supported by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Five County Mental Health is holding a variety of educational events this month to coincide with this years Recovery Month theme, “Join the Voices for Recovery: Real people, Real Recovery.”

    The events include:

  • Proclamation : National Alcohol and Drug Addiction Recovery Month
  • Recovery Picnic: October 11th, 2008 -Topic: Support Group Development Roundtable
  • Sober Saturday: Challenging people to abstain from the use of alcohol on Saturday, Sept 20th.
  • Alcohol Screenings: VGCC, Kittrell Job Corps, Louisburg College and Ducky Derby Day in Halifax County.
  • Mental Health Association-Wellness to Recovery Presentations
  • By celebrating Recovery Month, you are supporting those already in recovery and encouraging those in need of help to seek treatment.

    To learn more about Five County Mental Health Authority’s Recovery efforts call 252-320-3077 or 252-430-3031 or if you or someone you know needs help or has questions about treatment and recovery services, please call our Helpline number at 1-877-619-3761

    Do you want to learn more about addiction and recovery?

    The Doctor’s Opinion with Dr. Al, (an educational program for anyone who wants to learn more about addiction and recovery) Wednesdays, 4:00 – 5:30 pm, Wake Forest Alano Club, 502 S. White St. This class will be led by Dr. Al Mooney, M.D., who practices addiction medicine and is clinical director of Five County Mental Health Authority; author of The Recovery Book.