September is National Recovery Month
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration defines recovery as “A process of change through which individuals improve their health and wellness, live a self-directed life, and strive to reach their full potential”. Often underneath an addiction is the experience of childhood trauma in the form of abuse, neglect, loss, or lack of a safe or stable home life. People use substances to cover up the worry, pain, and sadness that result from painful memories.
One of the most common catalysts for substance abuse is Adverse Childhood Experiences. In fact, for every Adverse Childhood Experience encountered, the risk of substance use increases. Experiencing some form of abuse, neglect, loss or lack of stability in childhood happens to many people. Misusing drugs or alcohol is a way to cope with the pain. Please know that there are healthy and effective tools for healing. The first step is to find a safe person you trust and share your story and your need for help.
One of my favorite truths is “the opposite of addiction is connection.” If you are someone who struggles with substance use or any other kind of addiction, connecting with a supportive community is a key to beginning and staying in recovery. The first step is reaching out and admitting that you need help to get better. Once you admit that your addiction has gotten the best of you... you have taken the first step. Remember, recovery is within your grasp and there are people in your area who understand what you are going through and who are prepared to help.
If you are addicted to alcohol or drugs of any kind, you already know that recovery is going to require change. It is going to require that you do things differently. You may fear both the physical and emotional withdrawal you'll experience from not having the substance. Talk to a safe and trusted support and tell them you need help. People who get in a supportive recovery community have more success in recovery. Take the first step and you'll find there are supportive people who will go the rest of the journey with you.
Recovery is possible. There are many great recovery communities in our area. Don't let anything keep you from reaching out. There are paths that will allow you to find meaning and purpose in the aftermath of very difficult life experiences. If you find yourself addicted and struggling remember you are loveable, forgivable, and changeable.
-Jerry Strausbaugh, EdD, LPCC-S, Executive Director of Appleseed Community Mental Health Center