Every year, National Recovery Month is celebrated in September to honor those who are on a recovery journey and everyone who supports that process, including those facing addiction, substance abuse counselors, medical professionals, and the family members and loved ones involved in the recovery process. Recovery Month applauds the recovery process and aims to remove the stigma surrounding mental health disorders and substance abuse. National Recovery Month promotes the concept that recovery is always possible and offers a platform for everyone’s recovery story to be told.
Substance Abuse in Washington & Oregon
Like much of the U.S., the Pacific northwest was impacted by the opioid crisis during the 2000s and substance abuse disorders were often related to prescription pain medicine misuse.
In Washington state, prescription opioid overdose deaths have largely decreased in recent years, however, nearly every other type of drug overdose death has increased. Overall, the CDC’s preliminary data for 2019 shows a 6% increase in cumulative overdose deaths in Washington state.
From 2010-2012, Oregon had the highest rate of opioid overdose deaths in the country. The state has also steadily battled heroin, methamphetamine, and alcohol abuse among its population. Like Washington state, pharmaceutical opioid overdose deaths have decreased in recent years, only to see an increase in most other drug categories from 2014-2018. Preliminary CDC data shows a 13.5% overdose death rate for Oregon in 2019.
Despite the tragic occurrences of overdose deaths in the Pacific Northwest, thousands of people have wholeheartedly embraced recovery in these areas, and it is their success that Recovery Month intends to recognize and celebrate.
National Recovery Month: From SAMHSA to Faces & Voices of Recovery
For the last three decades, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) spearheaded National Recovery Month celebrations, creating recovery awareness and promoting good mental health habits and recovery from addiction. This year marks the 31st year for Recovery Month and the first year that the event will also be supported by the Faces of Voices of Recovery, who are hosting the updated Recovery Month website and providing a calendar for Recovery Month events.
Recovery Month 2020 in Washington & Oregon
The National Recovery Month theme for 2020 is “Join the Voices for Recovery: Celebrating Connections,” which highlights how important connections are for recovery, even in times of social distancing.
And while many states are seeing fewer or smaller Recovery Month events due to the coronavirus pandemic, this is not the case in Washington state. In King County, Washington the Behavioral Health and Recovery Division is so invested in Recovery Month that they determined their own theme: “Rising Above It All: Wellness, Resilience & Recovery.” The organization acknowledges that while many celebrations have shifted to virtual options due to regulations surrounding the pandemic, Recovery Month is still very much being celebrated in Washington state. You can visit the King County Recovery Month website to find local events or even submit your own event to the National Recovery Month Calendar.
In Oregon, mental health and substance abuse treatment resources are facing budget cuts during the COVID-19 pandemic, which places additional strain on an already overwhelmed system. In a state that already registers for a higher rate of mental illness and lower access to care, the recovery community calls on its residents to make an effort to create and maintain recovery connections during tumultuous times.
Promoting Recovery During a Pandemic
The 2020 coronavirus pandemic has presented unforeseen global challenges and has required that group activities be limited or canceled altogether. Due to this, substance abuse treatment has moved online, including most online recovery support groups. While Recovery Month events in Washington & Oregon have also mostly moved online, it’s still possible to get involved and participate in Recovery Month activities.
Support Recovery Virtually During Recovery Month
Mental health in Washington state and recovery from drinking or substance abuse can still be celebrated during the pandemic. Consider the following options:
- Join a Virtual 5k: Join a fundraiser to raise money and awareness for mental health and substance use disorders in honor of Recovery Month.
- Be a Face for Recovery on Social Media: Take to social media platforms to share your story and be an advocate for recovery with sober selfies and using recovery hashtags like #RecoveryMonth2020 and #NRM2020.
- Host an Online Recovery Event: The Recovery Village Ridgefield provides a free virtual space to host online recovery meetings. Reach out to friends and your support network to jump online anytime you feel the need to connect.
- Attend a Virtual Recovery Event: Online recovery support groups, online recovery coaches and a variety of other virtual recovery options are offering recovery support services. Local recovery resources can also be found at the Washington Recovery Alliance and Oregon Recovers websites, as well as alcoholics anonymous and narcotics anonymous for your respective state.
- Visit a Recovery Support Group: If virtual options are not fulfilling your recovery needs, you may be able to consider connecting with a small group of people in person while taking steps to mitigate risk (like meeting in an open, outdoor space, etc).
Restrictions imposed by COVID-19 may make things more challenging, but they are also temporary. Until a sense of normalcy returns, you can explore virtual avenues of showing your support for Recovery Month.
Stay Connected to Your Recovery with The Recovery Village Ridgefield
At The Recovery Village Ridgefield we understand that recovery from addiction is difficult and doesn’t always happen in a straight line. Our compassionate, professional staff is ready to meet your needs and help you start your recovery journey, including a dedicated detox center along with inpatient or outpatient substance abuse treatment to recovery resources for life after rehab.
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, The Recovery Village Ridgefield has adjusted to the social distance recommendations by offering teletherapy sessions and a virtual space for online recovery meetings and chat rooms.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Vital Statistics Rapid Release – Provisional Drug Overdose Death Counts.” 2020. Accessed August 23, 2020.
- Mental Health America. “Overall Ranking 2020.” 2020. Accessed August 25, 2020.
- National Institute on Drug Abuse. “Oregon: Opioid-Involved Deaths and Related Harms.” July 2020. Accessed August 24, 2020.
- Oregon Health Authority. “Prescribing and Overdose Data for Oregon.” 2019. Accessed August 21, 2020.
- Oregon HIDTA Program. “Threat Assessment and Counter-Drug Strategy.” 2016. Accessed August 22, 2020.
- Botkin, Ben. “Despite Budget Crunch, Oregon Health Authority Plans 3 New High-Level Behavioral Health Positions.” The Lund Report. July 2020. Accessed August 21, 2020.
- University of Washington Alcohol & Drug Abuse Institute. “Drug Deaths Across Washington State.” November 2019. Accessed August 21, 2020.
- Washington State Department of Health. “Washington State Drug Overdose: Monthly Updates.” July 28, 2020. Accessed August 22, 2020.