Overcoming a drug or alcohol addiction is usually difficult and can be lonely. No one understands this better than someone who has been – or is – going through it.

This is why groups like Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous can be so useful and integral to the recovery process. They provide a support network and guidance that can assist in paving the way to recovery. In addition to in-person support groups, there are a multitude of online resources that can also provide support and assistance in the recovery process.

With this in mind, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has developed a website for Recovery Month, observed annually in September. According to the website, Recovery Month “highlights the societal benefits of substance abuse treatment, lauds the contributions of treatment providers and promotes the message that recovery from substance abuse in all its forms is possible. The observance also encourages citizens to take action to help expand and improve the availability of effective substance abuse treatment for those in need. Each year, a new theme or emphasis is selected for the observance.”

On the site there is a page called Voices for Recovery. This page allows individuals who are or have been fighting addictions to share their stories and allows others to read the accounts. Below is an excerpt from one such story by Jared Hamre, submitted June 30, 2009.

September 13, 2008, marked my third year of recovery. I am grateful for my recovery. That doesn’t mean life struggles have not come my way, but recovery has given me the tools to now cope with challenges.

It was residential treatment that started me on this life-learning process. With the help of the staff and residents, I’ve learned that practicing positive behavior changes has enabled me to become a good, dependable person – I’ve changed how I act and perceive myself.

About six months into my recovery I decided to start giving back by speaking at my former high school. Helping others, owning my history, and sharing the value of my experience have taken away the unnecessary shame of this disease. My drug addiction would have ruined my life, but in a matter of three years, recovery has brought me positive friendships, a house, a dog, and a loving girlfriend who is not ashamed of my past, but proud and interested in my recovery.

In the final analysis, it is only the alcoholics or drug users who can ultimately make the decision to give up their personal poisons and embrace the day-to-day struggle to stay clean. Family and friends can provide encouragement; they can even stage interventions to gain a victim’s attention.  The stories on this site can help everyone involved understand the difficulties at hand and be more successful in pursuing the path of recovery.

Additional recovery resources are available from the Recovery Month site. In addition, the LHSFNA publishes a variety of posters, brochures and manuals about substance abuse, alcoholism and recovery. These are available through the Fund’s online Publications Catalogue.

[Steve Clark]