Embracing National Recovery Month in September

Did you know that September is National Recovery Month?

When you think about recovery from alcohol or drugs, your initial thoughts may be of millions of people and their families struggling with addiction’s physical and mental effects. Most conversations revolve around the signs, symptoms, treatment, and prevention.

The Recovery Research Institute states there are tens of millions of people in recovery. They used results from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMSHA) National Survey on Drug Use and Health results to determine the exact numbers. What they found is remarkable.

The representative sample who reported having a substance use disorder at some point in their lifetime was 11% or more than 27 million people. Nearly 75% or 20.5 million reported being in recovery during the survey. Another 30% of people with a substance use disorder were in recovery from a mental health disorder.

What is the Meaning of Recovery?

Debates about the definition of recovery have been going on for decades. One person may feel in recovery the minute they enter treatment and stop misusing drugs or alcohol. Another person may think they are in recovery after being sober for ninety days.

In the medical industry, recovery refers to a time of healing and returning to an overall well-being state. This definition also applies to mental health and substance use disorders, but the length of time you spend in recovery goes well beyond the physical healing period.

You control your recovery, including the definition, process, and duration. The only requirement is that in recovery, you do whatever it takes to maintain positive mental and physical health away from harmful substances.

Guiding Principles of Recovery

SAMSHA explains that recovery success is more likely when you focus on making positive changes in at least four areas, including health, living in a stable environment, finding purpose, and building a network of social supports. They claim you should follow ten principles of recovery:

  • Hope
  • Person-driven
  • Multiple pathways
  • Whole person
  • Peers in recovery
  • Cultures
  • Social connections
  • Respect
  • Individual, family, and community strengths
  • Addressing trauma

Recovery also means recognizing and celebrating your success. You can start celebrating by participating in National Recovery Month.

National Recovery Month

September is National Recovery Month. The entire month is dedicated to those who entered recovery, made efforts to change, and succeeded. The now-permanent theme of National Recovery Month accurately reflects the scope of addiction. It is “Every Person. Every Family. Every Community.”

In most studies on mental health and substance use disorders, the number of individuals receiving recovery treatment is much lower than it should be. Month-long events like National Recovery Month can help more people get the treatment they need.

Below are the events you can incorporate into your celebration on a local level.

Recovery Rally

The National recovery rally occurs in Sacramento, California, at the State Capitol. On September 7th. From 11:00 am to 11:15 am, individuals, family, and community members join in celebrating recovery success. Locally, you can create a small event with a huge impact. The key is to bring awareness that recovery treatment is available and accessible and works.

National Opioid and Substance Awareness Day

Join the virtual town hall event to embrace National Recovery Month on September 13th. You can watch it alone, with family and colleagues, or on a larger scale with the whole community. From noon to 3:00 pm, leaders in the mental health and substance use disorder fields, along with congress members and representatives from the Center for Disease Control and SAMSHA, will speak. You will also hear testimonials from people in recovery.

More National Recovery Month Events From SAMSHA

Multiple virtual and in-person events are being held throughout the month, and you can be a part of them. Events include virtual youth panel discussions, leadership summits, and recovery bus tours. The National Recovery Month website lists all events and gives easy instructions for joining the celebration.

Create Your Own National Recovery Month Event

Don’t feel limited to these preplanned national events. Get creative and develop your own local or regional activities that help individuals, families, and communities embrace recovery. Below are a few suggestions:

  • Create daily social media posts about recovery
  • Share personal stories of recovery success online or at local agencies
  • Attend a meeting or take someone else to a meeting
  • Buy lunch for an addiction therapist on September 20th, National Addiction Professional Day
  • Make a video about recovery with a local treatment center
  • Throw a community party, get sponsors from local treatment agencies
  • Talk to students at the local schools about prevention
  • Host an art show, concert, or film festival about sobriety and recovery success
  • Participate in or host a 5k walk/run
  • Work with local television and radio stations to promote recovery
  • Volunteer at a local recovery center

If you are more of a sensation seeker, tackle something on your bucket list in honor of National Recovery Month, like:

  • Skydiving
  • Rafting
  • Paragliding
  • Mountain biking

If you don’t need so much sensation but want to do something different, take a road trip and attend meetings in other cities. Or treat yourself to a spa day, challenge yourself at an escape room, or release your artistic side by creating art, writing, or music celebrating recovery.

Recovery Specialists Embrace National Recovery Month

If you are a mental health or substance abuse professional, September is a time you can dedicate specifically to promoting the good things that come from treatment at all levels. You can share success stories in the community and find creative ways to bring about awareness.

Don’t miss this opportunity to join professionals nationwide in teaching others about prevention, treatment, and recovery. Celebrate the people you know who are successful in recovery. Encourage them to get involved and give back this month. Simply sharing their stories can encourage others to enter treatment.


Millions of people have proven recovery is possible. You can have a healthy, happy life without alcohol or drugs. Individuals, families, and communities can work together to spread the word that treatment is available and works. Start by embracing National Recovery Month.

Questions or thinking about getting help for addiction treatment? Reach out to us for more information. The Mental Health Center will be glad to get you started on your sobriety journey.