Breast Cancer Awareness Month is in October, the Great American Smokeout is in November and February is National Heart Month. However, did you know that September is National Recovery Month?
Just as we celebrate health improvements made by people managing other health conditions, Recovery Month celebrates the accomplishments of people in recovery from drugs and alcohol and those trying to get there.
Health-related issues can be complex and usually don’t have one simple cause or method of treatment. Most of us also aren’t successful at treating our diagnosed health conditions the first time we get advice from a doctor on what to do. For example, many of us have been told that quitting smoking, losing a few pounds, eating a healthy diet, getting regular physical activity or cutting down on alcohol consumption will improve many of our health conditions. Anyone who has ever attempted to change just one of these areas, let alone several of them, knows it can be difficult even for the most disciplined person.
Why is it that as a society we’re okay with giving multiple chances to treat their physical health conditions, but not their drug or alcohol-related conditions? Recovery Month reinforces the positive message that behavioral health is essential to overall health, that prevention works, that treatment is effective and that people can and do recover. There are millions of Americans whose lives have been transformed through recovery. Since these successes often go unnoticed by the broader population, Recovery Month provides a way for everyone to celebrate these accomplishments.
The U.S. is currently in the grips of an opioid epidemic that has affected millions of people and their families (and Canada is not far behind). At this point, we know that opioid addiction is not intentional and can happen to anyone. The problem is real, complex and it is not going away anytime soon. One aspect that is rarely discussed is where people can go for support and assistance – both the person with the substance use disorder as well as family and friends. Below are some of these resources.
In the U.S., dialing 911 is still the best way to get an immediate response from local resources 24 hours a day. If the situation is life threatening, dial 911 immediately.
National Poison Control Center
Offers free, confidential service 24 hours a day (800-222-1222) where you can speak to poisoning professionals (including cases involving drugs or alcohol).
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
Available 24 hours a day at 800-273-TALK (8255).
Crisis Text Line
Serves anyone, in any type of crisis, with free, 24/7 support and information via a medium people already use and trust. Text HOME to 741741 in the U.S.
Veterans Crisis Line
Get the support you’ve earned by calling 1-800-273-8255 and pressing 1 or text 838255. Veterans can also chat with an operator online by clicking here.
Finding help for an opioid addiction or support in general for you or a loved one can be challenging. Fortunately, one advantage to being a LIUNA member is that health care coverage, which often includes mental health and substance abuse treatment, is available (based on eligibility) through one of LIUNA’s ninety-five LIUNA health and welfare funds in the United States and Canada.
Health and welfare fund contact information can usually be found on the back of your insurance card or through your Local Union’s Business Manager. Some LIUNA health and welfare funds also provide access to member assistance programs (MAP). MAPs provide confidential crisis intervention, referral and information services. MAPs can help members cope with personal problems that interfere with job performance or home life.
This 24/7 information and treatment referral helpline (1-800-662-4357) also offers an online behavioral health treatment service locator.
Grief Recovery After a Substance Passing – GRASP
Founded to provide help, compassion and understanding for families or individuals who have had a loved one die as a result of substance abuse or addiction.
This 12-step fellowship program is for family and friends of individuals with drug, alcohol or related issues.
This 12-step group is specifically tailored to the family members and friends of people struggling with addiction.
This link lists substance abuse resources both nationally and by province for those living in Canada.
The LHSFNA’s Health Promotion Division is available to review or help create drug-free workplace policies and services for LIUNA signatory contractors and other LIUNA affiliates. The Fund’s It’s Your Choice When You Know the Facts About Drugs and Alcohol and Answering Your Questions on Opioid Abuse and Addiction pamphlets can help educate members about the risks of drugs and alcohol abuse.
[Jamie Becker is the LHSFNA’s Director of Health Promotion.]