A couple weeks ago we wrote to inform you that September is National Recovery Month. We encouraged you to share your story, with the hope of encouraging others who are still living in addiction to seek help. For those of you who choose to do so, we at Synergy Group Services commend you for your courage. We know how hard it is to talk about one’s past, and what it took to find recovery, but please know that the more we open up about addiction and the fact that it does not discriminate—the more we chip away at the stigma of mental health disorders.
There is a good chance that your story resonated with someone who is in dire straits, desperately needing addiction treatment services. People often continue active drug and alcohol use for years after they determine that their substance abuse has become problematic. It is a behavior that is typical of anyone with an untreated mental illness. And sadly, millions of people fail to ever get the help they need and find the path of recovery. There are a number of reasons why a person will shy away from seeking assistance, but one of the major reasons is the stigma associated with being identified as an alcoholic or drug addict.
For those who have been in recovery for a number of years, it is likely that some will say that they are proud to be in recovery. And that without the dark times of their addiction, they may not have ever found the beautiful gifts that they have today. To be certain, those living with mental illness have nothing more to be ashamed about than any other person living with a form of chronic illness that requires continued maintenance.
It is unfortunate that many people feel shamed into keeping mute about their mental health problems. Those who are unable to get the help they need will sometimes make choices that cannot be undone, such as choosing suicide. What’s even sadder is the fact that mental health treatments today are light years ahead of what they use to be. It is possible to manage the symptoms of one’s mental illness and live a relatively normal—productive life.
The month of September is also Suicide Prevention Awareness Month. The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) highlights the fact that, “suicide is the third leading cause of death among young people and is often the result of mental health conditions that affect people when they are most vulnerable.”
Throughout the course of the month, NAMI would like everyone to help “promote awareness of suicide prevention resources and promote discussion of suicide prevention awareness. On social media you can share the image below, using #suicideprevention or #StigmaFree.