What is the likelihood that a person with an addiction can recover from his or her disorder? There are still so many people whose answer would be “very unlikely.” Because this perception persists, for the past 27 years, September has been designated as Recovery Month to celebrate those people who are in fact in recovery from addiction disorders and also to highlight the work going on to improve our understanding and treatment of addictions. In recent years, the focus has been expanded to include people suffering from other mental health disorders. Coordinated each year by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration, Recovery Month generally has a theme. The focus of Recovery Month 2016 is on the role of families in recovery.
Stigmatization of people with addiction disorders continues to be a significant problem. Pessimism about their prognosis can be a self-fulfilling prophecy for a group of people who already struggle with guilt, shame, and feelings of hopelessness. One of the reasons that we encourage Kolmac patients to have as much contact as possible with people in recovery is so that they can have realistic optimism about their own prognosis.
Each year during Recovery Month, professional organizations across the country sponsor presentations about the progress being made in the field of addictions. Here are two events in the Baltimore/Washington area that might be of interest to you for Recovery Month 2016:
- The Maryland Chapter of the American Society of Addiction Medicine (MDSAM) has organized a three-hour presentation of updates about addictions as well as a keynote lecture by Dr. Robert DuPont about benzodiazepine use and addiction. The rise in addiction to benzodiazepines has not gotten as much attention as has opioid addiction, perhaps because overdose death is not as common. Their legitimate use for anxiety and sleep disorders has led, however, to patterns of misuse that create problems in their own right as well as complicating addictions to other substances, particularly alcohol and opioids.
- The Johns Hopkins School of Medicine’s “Road to Recovery,” an all-day program, will focus on responses to the opioid epidemic. Some of the original research about buprenorphine was done at Hopkins, and innovative ways to integrate treatment for opioid addiction into primary medical care is being explored there.
I look forward to events like these because they offer an opportunity for positive voices for recovery to be heard.
In keeping with the Recovery Month focus, posts during the month will include a summary of Dr. DuPont’s talk and also a piece about some of the work going on to provide support to families of Kolmac patients. As I noted a previous post at the start of Recovery Month, recovery is an imperfect process, but one that is more successful than most people know. As I have in past years, I look forward to Recovery Month with optimism and anticipation for an important opportunity to communicate positively about the work we all do with addicted patients every day.