National Recovery Month Gives a Voice to Those with Substance Use Disorders

The stigma attached to substance use often forces people to battle in silence. Oakland Community Health Network officials say National Recovery Month in September offers much-needed support.

Having support is beneficial to anyone struggling with his or her health, including people with substance use disorders.

Entering recovery is not easy, people may not talk about their struggles, which sometimes can drive them back into old habits.

That’s where National Recovery Month steps in.

This countrywide movement, which happens every September, gives those who have fought and beat a substance use disorder the chance to tell their stories and celebrate recovery.

“There’s a stigma that surrounds addiction and National Recovery Month is a way to celebrate out loud and let people know that addiction is a chronic relapsing brain disease that is nothing to be ashamed of,” says Angela Bogota, a peer recovery mentor with the Alliance of Coalitions for Healthy Communities.

When people who have substance use disorders are allowed to put their stories out there publicly, it gives others the chance to see that recovery is possible.

“When we come together and celebrate recovery, either for the first time or those who make it back again, we see others who have been in our shoes and now living a life filled with meaning and purpose,” explains LeRon Coleman, who will be 17 years sober in November and works as a certified peer recovery mentor with Turning Point Recovery Center in Pontiac.

“I am an individual who has flaws like anybody else and I can help them get through life challenges,” he adds. “When I speak about my life experiences, they identify on the same level and it can help them go on a different route.”

In addition, the support groups, walks, and other community events held throughout the month by a variety of local and national organizations can help.

“You have to find a new way of living in recovery,” Bogota, who is six years into her sobriety, explains. “When you’re living with a substance use disorder, the assumption is you can’t have fun without using substances, at least that’s what you tell yourself. When you surround yourself with other sober people who have a common thread and the same struggles, you find that you can enjoy life.”

But it’s not just those who struggle with substance use disorders that benefit from National Recovery Month. The community as a whole does, too.

“If the community can see that recovery is real and that we do get better, it can give people an opportunity to give back and be a valued member of society,” Coleman says. “If family members are struggling with substance misuse, they can get help and also live a fulfilling life.”

For more information on National Recovery Month, or to find additional resources, visit


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