Editor’s note: “A Better Life” is a weekly column by the USU Extension – Tooele Office that focuses on a variety of topics intended to enhance quality of life.
September marks the 30th anniversary of National Recovery Month and this Saturday local residents will have a chance to celebrate those who are working toward recovery and to learn more about substance abuse and mental health treatment services.
The celebration will be held at Tooele City Aquatic Center Park and the festivities begin at 8 a.m. with the first annual 5K Recovery Day fun run followed by a resource fair at 10 a.m.
The fair will feature kids’ activities, food trucks, recovery information, games, and community booths. It is sponsored by Young People in Recovery – Tooele Chapter, Valley Behavioral Health, Tooele County Health Department and the USU Extension – Tooele Office.
The focus is to have a family-friendly event that promotes a recovery-ready community, and wellness and healing for all. When addiction has taken hold of a life it is easy to suffer in the shadows. Which is why the theme for this year’s National Recovery Month is “Together We Are Stronger.”
The theme underscores the need for community members and organizations to share resources and build networks to improve local recovery efforts for substance abuse. For many community members, this isn’t some distant, irrelevant problem that can be dismissed. Substance abuse and mental health disorders affect people we know.
Building awareness is deemed as vital to help reduce the stigma surrounding substance abuse and mental health disorders. Stigma is any damaging or demeaning beliefs — and such beliefs must be corrected by truth. For example, the person is not their addiction; calling them an addict undermines their power. Forgetting that addiction is a medical syndrome, and treating it as a personal failing, only gives power to misconceptions surrounding addiction.
Also, stigma can act as a deterrent to those seeking treatment. Addiction does not discriminate; it can affect all ages, races, sexual identities, and social statuses. National Recovery Month is about changing mindsets from “us against them” to “all of us together” against losing one more loved one to substance abuse and/or mental illness.
National Recovery Month is also a wonderful time to acknowledge the contributions of family members and service providers. Recovery is not a journey taken alone and every effort toward recovery should be celebrated. Take part and empower people who want to take the first steps toward recovery. Continuing to offer social support and information, while maintaining healthy boundaries, may prompt a person to accept help and begin the recovery process.
It may be the fifth time a person is revived with life-saving Naloxone, but giving them one more day of life may be the day that sets recovery in motion.
We all know someone who has had their life impacted by substance abuse and/or mental health disorders. Mental health disorders include depression, anxiety, and psychotic or personality disorders, all of which can lead to substance abuse to self-medicate.
For those living with substance abuse and mental illness, treating both are required for successful recovery efforts. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, the four most important aspects of recovery are:
• Health: Either overcoming the disease or managing symptoms to support physical and emotional well-being.
• Home: A safe and stable place to live.
• Purpose: Having meaningful daily activities, independence, income, and resources to participate in society.
• Community: Relationships and social networks to provide support, friendship, love and hope.
For more information about Saturday’s event, call the USU Extension – Tooele County Office at 435-277-2400. Aquatic Center Park is located at 55 N. 200 West in Tooele City.
Maren Wright Voss, ScD, is a professional practice extension assistant professor of health and wellness at the USU Extension – Tooele County Office, which is located inside the Tooele County Health Department Building, 151 N. Main, Tooele. She can be reached at 435-277-2409 and at firstname.lastname@example.org. Kira Swensen is a USU graduate in health education and promotion and is working on a masters of public health at USU. She is the Pain Education and Opioid Monitoring program coordinator for the USU Extension – Tooele County office.