Recovery Month: navigating the world of recovery from substance abuse

Published: Sep. 19, 2022 at 5:46 PM EDT
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HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) - September is National Recovery Month which aims to increase public awareness surrounding recovery.

Recovery, as related to drug addiction, is the process of treatment for dependency for a wide range of substances. The World Drug Report shows about 35 million people worldwide suffer from drug abuse. About one in 10 U.S. adults reported ever having an issue with drug use.

Drug abuse is defined as an inability to control the use of legal or illegal drugs. Martha Sheridan, Licensed Professional Counselor and Certified Substance Abuse Counselor with Augusta Health, said there are often negative impacts invading most aspects of day-to-day life.

“Abuse is when you’re using too much of a substance, and it’s causing problems in your life. If you’re using a substance and it’s causing you to have difficulties in your marriage, at work, in your life in different ways, and you keep using, that’s addiction,” said Sheridan.

Addiction is complex, but it is treatable.

Recovery often consists of counseling, rehabilitation, support groups and abstinence from particular substances. Sometimes, a person may have to be hospitalized, or they may participate in medication assisted treatment, depending on their treatment plan.

A study published by the CDC found three in four people who experience addiction eventually do recover.

Sheridan said these supports allow the person in recovery space to make strides and fail with the support of others who understand.

“There’s also resources in the community, like Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous, to provide that ongoing support to make it easier with people who understand addiction and understand it’s not a character flaw, but it’s a disease,” said Sheridan.

Sheridan said addiction can begin with a prescription. Other times, it’s a split-second decision.

“Sometimes people are introduced to them sometimes very legally through a prescription they get. Other times, somebody says, ‘Try this. It will help you feel better.’ They try something, and all of a sudden they’re finding themselves wanting it more and more and more and more. People can start from different places,” said Sheridan.

Any person can be impacted by addiction.

“If you try some highly-addictive medicines, you might become the one who’s addicted and it’s very painful in your life to figure out how to deal with that,” Sheridan said.

If you are struggling with drug addiction, there are many resources in the right direction. Strength in Peers can help you take that first step toward recovery or provide harm reduction strategies. There are also treatment centers in the Shenandoah Valley.

SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration) also had a hotline you can call for more information at 1-800-662-4357, or click here to visit their website.

Experts in recovery said it is a long road, but it’s worth it. Most people who struggle with addiction not only survive, but they thrive while clean.

There is always hope and people in your corner.