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Lincoln – September is National Recovery Month, and the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) Division of Behavioral Health (DBH) is spreading the message now and throughout the year that behavioral health is essential to health, prevention works, treatment is effective, and people recover from mental illnesses and substance use disorders (SUD).
The 2022 National Recovery Month theme, “Recovery is for Everyone: Every Person, Every Family, Every Community" reminds people in recovery and those who support them, that recovery belongs to all of us. We are all called to welcome everyone to recovery by lowering barriers to recovery support, creating welcoming spaces and programs, and broadening our understanding of what recovery means for people with different experiences.
“People can and do recover from the challenges of mental health conditions," said Sheri Dawson, director of the Division of Behavioral Health. “Recovery Month helps to educate others about substance use, mental health, and co-occurring disorders, the effectiveness of treatment and recovery services, and the message that recovery is possible. We encourage communities to normalize the conversation about recovery. We also celebrate those on their recovery journeys and applaud the contributions of treatment and service providers, recovery support groups, and individuals with lived experience who provide a message of hope that recovery is possible."
A SUD is a complex condition that affects a person's brain and behavior, leading to a person's inability to control their use of substances such as legal or illegal drugs, alcohol, or medications despite harmful consequences. Researchers have found that about half of individuals who experience a SUD during their lives will also experience a co-occurring mental disorder and vice versa. Co-occurring disorders can include anxiety disorders, depression, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), bipolar disorder, personality disorders, and schizophrenia, among others. Additional information can be found in the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)'s Common Comorbidities with Substance Use Disorders Research Report. NIDA's report suggests that as many as one in four people with substance use disorder have co-occurring mental disorders.
Both SUDs and other mental disorders can run in families, suggesting that certain genes may be a risk factor. Environmental factors, such as stress or trauma, can cause genetic changes that are passed down through generations. Mental disorders can contribute to substance use and SUDs. Studies found that people with a mental health disorder, such as anxiety, depression, or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), may use drugs or alcohol as a form of self-medication.
As with any chronic illness, recovery often occurs via intersecting pathways that can include evidence-based treatment, medications, medication-assisted treatment, faith-based approaches, recovery support services, and family support, noted Dawson. Each person's recovery journey is unique.
DHHS's facilities and Regional Behavioral Health Authorities throughout the state are choosing to promote the month in a variety of ways, including:
Help is available. If you or a loved one need assistance, please reach out to: