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HARRISBURG, Pa. (Erie News Now) – September is National Recovery Month. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), Recovery Month is a national observance held each year “to promote and support new evidence-based treatment and recovery practices, the nation’s strong and proud recovery community, and the dedication of service providers and communities who make recovery in all its forms possible.”
In Pennsylvania, Recovery Month is an opportunity for advocates and officials to provide hope, and spread awareness about help that is available.
Based off data from 2021, an average of nearly 300 Americans are losing their battle to substance use each day.
“I call it a jetliner a day. The reason I call it a jetliner a day is to make the comparison. When we had two crashes of a similar jetliner, what did the world do? We grounded that plane. Everybody- partners, governmental partners, industry partners, families said ground the plane until we can find out what is going so horribly wrong,” said Congresswoman Madeleine Dean (PA-04).
The impact is far-reaching and the pain is felt regardless of race, class or creed.
“I grew up in a loving home but found myself struggling, and had been conditioned into this stigma and the shame that what I was doing was wrong,” said Harry Cunnane, the son of Congresswoman Dean.
Cunnane is one of the 20-million Americans living in recovery.
“I think that number is just as important, if not more important, to continue to highlight so that we can see that hope,” said Cunnane, who will celebrate ten years in recovery this October. “I want everyone who’s struggling to know that it can get better,” he added.
Recovery Month is a reminder that even though the road to recovery is sometimes a years-long or even life-long journey, there is still hope.
“I think it’s important for people to know, first of all, there’s hope and there’s help,” said Scott Silverman, a treatment professional, crisis coach and subject matter expert.
Silverman has been in recovery for over three decades and has devoted his life to helping others find treatment. He says there are many keys to recovery, but patience, education and recognition are especially important.
“The three hardest words in the English language is, ‘I need help.’ Don’t be afraid to ask for help. You’d be amazed how much help is really out there,” said Silverman, who is also the author of The Opioid Epidemic.
Silverman has devoted decades to fighting the cycle of substance abuse, unemployment, poverty, and homelessness for thousands of at-risk teens and adults going through the incarceration system. He currently leads the team at Confidential Recovery, an outpatient substance abuse recovery program in San Diego.
He says educating the next generation about the potency and availability of illicit and recreational drugs is critically important. He warns that a lack of awareness, as well as a continued influx of stronger illicit drugs, like fentanyl, could send the nation into further distress.
“I mean, we have a real problem now. It’s catastrophic,” said Silverman. “What I really encourage families to do is to get informed,” he added.
Silverman says the crisis is too often overshadowed by political debate and other headlines.
“If we took one-percent of the time on a daily basis to talk about this, as a nation, as we do about elections and midterms and the fighting that goes on between the parties. We’ve got to dedicate some time to saving lives as well,” said Silverman.
Pennsylvania Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs Secretary Jen Smith hopes that Recovery Month will help more individuals share their story, and maybe even help someone take the first step toward recovery.
“Throughout the next 30 days, if you are a person in recovery or a family member of a person in recovery, stand up, walk tall, be proud and share your story. There is absolutely hope and strength, in your words,” said Smith. “Oftentimes, taking that first step onto the road of recovery is the hardest, but it’s also the bravest,” Smith added.
You can find the full calendar of Recovery Month events throughout Pennsylvania at ddap.pa.gov.
Click here for more information on where and how to find treatment.
Additionally, individuals looking for substance use disorder treatment options or resources for themselves, or a loved one can call DDAP’s Get Help Now Hotline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).
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