September is National Recovery Month

Webinar set for Sept. 17

Isabell Rivera ow contributor | 9/10/2020, midnight

For 31 years, September has been celebrated as National Recovery Month, and is sponsored by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). This year, the month coordinates with the new MTV documentary called “16 and Recovering,” which focuses on teenagers and their journey of recovery.

National Recovery Month is being honored to remind individuals struggling with mental health issues and addiction that there are help and recovery options.

But what does it mean to be in “recovery?” 

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), “Recovery is a process of change through which people improve their health and wellness, live self-directed lives, and strive to reach their full potential.” It is a life-long process, and many individuals oftentimes relapse before they get better and stay completely sober.

Recovery is especially tough for teenagers.

The new MTV documentary shadows nine teenagers who are enrolled at the Northshore Recovery High School in Beverly, Mass. to get their diplomas as they recover from substance abuse. Although it’s a public high school, it’s a bit different.

Founder and principal Michelle Lipinski established Northshore Recovery High School to address the alarming rate in teenage addiction and to provide a safe environment, needed support system, tools for a proper education, and accountability, which is a crucial aspect in recovery.

“When I opened Recovery High, my goal was to create a community for students to safely recover from addiction,” Lipinski said. “I’m grateful to partner with MTV in order to tell this story of resilience and showcase that recovery is possible with the right community. I hope we can be a model for other schools and communities who are addressing this issue.”

According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), in 2018, an estimated 70,000 died from some sort of drug overdose -- the main cause of death that year. The CDC also reports that two out of three individuals died from a prescription opioid overdose, or from street heroin, or synthetic opioids such as fentanyl.

To break it down even further, 4,633 adolescents, ages 15 - 24, died of an overdose in 2018, according to the NIDA.

“As this generation comes of age into a society facing an opioid epidemic, we believe the power of storytelling – and collaboration with experts like NIDA and Michelle – will be a wake-up call for audiences, parents, and community to break the stigma, foster empathy and expand access to treatment for young people,” President of ViacomCBS Entertainment & Youth Group Chris McCarthy said.

SAMHSA is hosting webinars throughout September. The next available webinar is on Thursday, Sep. 17, which will focus on how communities handle recovery and the support they offer to those in need. The webinar will also feature individuals who are in recovery and who benefit from support services provided by grantees of the Recovery Community Services Program (RCSP) and SAMHSA Building Communities of Recovery (BCOR).

For more information go to https://www.recoverymonth.gov/