The increasing news coverage of drug overdoses, or personally being affected by someone dying of a drug overdose, is raising the public’s awareness that mental health and substance use disorders are medical conditions, much like diabetes and heart disease. Plain and simple, mental/behavioral health IS health. Despite the prevalence of these conditions, recovery from mental and substance use disorders is possible. Communities must remain vigilant and dedicated to the recovery process by helping people address these preventable and treatable conditions, and support individuals in recovery, as well as their family members.

September is National Recovery Month, a time dedicated to celebrate recovery and encourage individuals with a mental and/or substance use disorder to seek treatment and achieve a healthy, happy life. Mental and substance use disorders can affect anyone. Most people know someone who is battling mental health, substance use issues or both. Not everyone knows how to access the support need for that person or themselves to get better. The Area Substance Abuse Council (ASAC) wants to change that.

The goals of Recovery Month are to increase awareness and understanding of mental and substance use disorders, and promote the message that behavioral health is essential to overall health, prevention works, treatment is effective, and people recover. This year’s theme: “Join the Voices for Recovery: Strengthen Families and Communities,” highlights the value of peer support by educating, mentoring, and helping others. It invites individuals in recovery and their support systems to be change agents in communities and in civic and advocacy engagements.

Recovery Month also acknowledges those who provide prevention, treatment, and recovery support services and empowers those in need of help to seek treatment throughout the year. All counties in ASAC’s coverage area (Benton, Clinton, Jackson, Jones, and Linn) have prevention staff and substance abuse prevention coalitions working on a myriad of initiatives to prevent and reduce substance abuse. Those in recovery, and others, are encouraged to reach out to prevention staff and join coalition members in the best practice work of substance abuse prevention, as well as to assist those in need with the recovery process. Together, safe and healthy lives should be possible for all.

To emphasize Recovery during this month, ASAC is hosting a viewing and discussion of the documentary, Anonymous People, on Thursday, September 21, 5:30-7 p.m. at the Cedar Rapids Public Library, Whipple Auditorium. Doors will open at 5 p.m. with refreshments. ASAC would especially like to invite those in recovery and the families of individuals in recovery or in need of recovery.

Anytime of the year, if you or someone you know needs help, call ASAC at 319-390-4611 and speak with a counselor. There is no charge for this call and any information shared is strictly confidential. To learn more visit www.asac.us/treatment/gethelp for more information about the many ASAC offices in the area and what to expect when speaking to a counselor and what usually are the next steps.