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ATTC Messenger September 2016 National Recovery Month

September 2016
National Recovery Month

Kimberly A. Johnson, PhD
Director, Center for Substance Abuse Treatment
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration

September2016_recoverymonthbanner_vertical.jpgFor the last 27 years, National Recovery Month (Recovery Month) has celebrated the lives of millions of Americas who have reclaimed their lives; who are happy and healthy in long-term recovery. At the same time, Recovery Month honors the prevention, treatment, and recovery programs and facilities that make recovery possible. Recovery Month is a forum for those in recovery to share their success stories nationwide and throughout the world.

Each year, a theme for Recovery Month is carefully chosen to encourage individuals in recovery and their support systems to share their stories about recovery. This year’s theme is “Join the Voices For Recovery: Our Families, Our Stories, Our Recovery!” which highlights the value of family support throughout recovery. The theme also invites individuals in recovery and their family members to share their personal stories and successes in order to encourage others to do the same.

Recovery Month is a time to educate Americans about the benefits of addiction treatment and mental health services and emphasize that those with mental and/or substance use disorders can live a healthy and rewarding lifestyle. The positive message that behavioral health is essential to overall health, prevention works, treatment is effective, and people can and do recover is reinforced throughout the Recovery Month observance. Encouraging citizens in recovery to share their stories allows those positive messages to be promoted and emphasizes that recovery, in all its forms, is possible.




Our families, our stories, our recovery

To this day, Recovery Month has touched the lives of millions of Americans. They are our neighbors, classmates, coworkers, and family who are in recovery from a mental and/or substance use disorder. Over the years, Recovery Month has gathered stories from community members across the country. Their stories are often difficult to hear, but they demonstrate how people have overcome their disorders to become a meaningful and productive members of society.

Barbara Jean is one of the millions of Americans who is in recovery from both a substance use disorder and a mental illness. For the first 12 years of her life, Barbara Jean was raised by two alcoholic parents and was exposed to trauma in her household. The exposure to trauma impacted her life when she was in her early 20s and plummeted into depression and alcoholism. The downward spiral of an untreated mental and substance use disorder led Barbara Jean to a hospital emergency room. Through her hospital visit, she was entered into a 17-day detox program and eventually graduated to a six-month recovery program. As of 2015, Barbara Jean is seven years sober.

Alonzo Grape is also is a person in long-term recovery, but unlike Barbara Jean, Alonzo chooses a different path to recovery. His substance use disorder started when he was given his first alcoholic drink while in high school. Soon, he was a full-blown alcoholic and continued to drink in order to fit in with his peers. While in college, he lost a baseball scholarship and dropped out of his program at the university. After graduating from a different university, Alonzo’s substance use disorder had grown to include marijuana and cocaine. In the years after graduating from college, Alonzo attempted 5 different treatment centers then found a sponsor whose support led him to long term recovery. Today, Alonzo is proud to call himself a recovery coach, a father, a son, and a friend. All of which, he believes would not be possible without being in long-term recovery.

Individuals like Barbara Jean and Alonzo share their stories of overcoming obstacles and achieving success in recovery, which results in greater awareness about recovery and a greater understanding of mental and substance use disorders. Barbara Jean's and Alonzo’s stories, and many others like theirs, can be found on the Recovery Month website at It is through these stories that positive messages about recovery are promoted.


SAMHSA – Center for Substance Abuse Treatment Program



Recovery Month Toolkit

Each year, Recovery Month creates a toolkit to help individuals and organizations increase awareness of the power of recovery.

Also available in Spanish!

Recovery Month is one example of how the Center for Substance Abuse Treatment (CSAT), within Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), supports recovery. CSAT funds programs to introduce critical supports into the addictions treatment environment and advance the notion of Recovery Oriented Systems of Care (ROSC). These programs include the Targeted Capacity Expansion Peer-to-Peer (TCE-PTP) program, the Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT) program, and the Medication Assisted Treatment-Prescription Drug and Opioid Addiction (MAT-PDOA) program.

The Targeted Capacity Expansion-Peer-to-Peer (TCE-PTP), aims to expand and enhance service capacity through the provision of peer recovery support services for individuals with substance use disorders, as well as their family members. The maintenance of recovery and improvement of the overall quality of life for those being served is a primary purpose of this program. To ensure that grantees meet this objective, SAMHSA measures increased abstinence from substance use, employment, housing stability, social connectedness, and decreased criminal justice involvement. The organizations that currently receive this grant reside in 15 states and fall within the Dallas, New York, Atlanta, Philadelphia, Seattle, Denver, San Francisco, Chicago, and Boston Department of Health and Human Services regions. The programs also represent special populations, including Latinos and Native Americans, and those residing in rural and urban communities.

CSAT, SAMHSA also helps to address our nation’s opioid epidemic by focusing on the states with the highest rates of primary treatment admission for heroin and opioids per capita and prioritizes those states with the most dramatic increases for heroin and opioid overdose deaths. The Medication Assisted Treatment - Prescription Drug and Opioid Addiction (MAT-PDOA) Program is a three-year program that expands and enhances access to MAT services for persons with opioid use disorder (OUD) that seek or receive MAT, including counseling and behavioral therapies, integrated care, and peer and recovery support. Expected outcomes are an increase in the number of admissions for MAT, an increase in the number of clients that receive integrated care/treatment, a decrease in illicit opioid drug use at six-months after treatment, and a decrease in the use of prescription opioids in a non-prescribed manner, six-months after treatment.

In 2001, the Institute of Medicine called for community-based screening for health risk behaviors, including substance use. This recommendation prompted the Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral (SBIRT) program, which is sponsored by SAMHSA and the Health Resources and Service Administration (HRSA). SBIRT is an evidence-based practice used to identify, reduce, and prevent problematic use, abuse, and dependence on alcohol and illicit drugs, and is often found in medical settings. The program consists of three major components: screening, brief intervention, and referral to treatment. Resources created and distributed include the SBIRT app, screening manuals, and brief intervention models. SBIRT has resulted in numerous benefits for the public, such as reduced healthcare cost, reduced severity of drug and alcohol use, and reduced risk of trauma and percentage of at-risk patients who no do not receive substance use treatment.

ATTC Network Recovery Month Events

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The Addiction Technology Transfer Center Network (ATTC Network) has hosted special Recovery Month events every September for the last 10 years. Recovery Month events have included an Art Recovery Expo, Drug Policy Forum, Substance Abuse Prevention and Control (SAPC) Lecture Series: Using Medications in the Treatment of Alcohol and Opioid Use Disorders, and training workshop at Wyoming Medication-Assisted Treatment Conference. The diversity of these programs allows for a larger group of individuals to be impacted and engaged through Recovery Month.

ATTC Network Recovery Month Activities

To find out about ATTC Network Recovery Month activities in your area, visit:
ATTC Network Training and Events Calendar

One particular program at the ATTC Network Coordinating Office helps individuals with substance use disorders in long-term recovery, share their personal struggles and triumphs with their disorder. For the past seven years, the essay contest “In My Own Words…” has encouraged and celebrated those individuals living with a substance use disorder. The essay contest creates an environment where their voices of recovery can be heard. This year the ATTC Network is opening the contest up for international participation. People around the world who want to share about their recovery in order to harness the power of stories will be eligible. The top twenty stories will be published and disseminated internationally.

National Recovery Month, along with other SAMSHA programs are at the forefront of recovery support services. With these combined efforts, SAMHSA programs and Recovery Month will continue to work together to create a supportive environment for individuals and families to conquer mental and/or substance use disorders.

Please join SAMHSA this September to celebrate the millions of Americans who are in recovery from mental and/or substance use disorders and “Join the Voices for Recovery: Our Families, Our Stories, Our Recovery!”


September2016_Kim_Johnson-1.jpegDr. Kimberly A. Johnson, Director, Center for Substance Abuse Treatment, has an extensive career in behavioral health that has earned her numerous awards, including the Federal DHHS Commissioner's Award for Child Welfare Efforts and National Association of State Alcohol and Drug Abuse Directors' Recognition for Service to the field of Substance Abuse Treatment and Prevention. Before joining SAMHSA's leadership team, Dr. Johnson had served as Deputy Director for Operations of CHESS/NIATx at the University of Wisconsin-Madison; as Director of the Office of Substance Abuse in Maine; and as Executive Director of Crossroads for Women, a women's addiction treatment agency.




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