Opioid addiction threatens Americans across the country and inspires fear. You might be afraid, either of your own addiction or for someone you love. What can you do about it?
Seek out opioid addiction treatment. It’s a holistic plan that cures your body of opioid dependence, prepares your mind to shed addictive urges, and connects you to peers who are recovering alongside you. And September is Recovery Month!
Recovery Month is the month-long observance which the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration (SAMHSA) supports. SAMHSA highlights all substance addictions, as well as mental health disorders. Recovery Month teaches Americans about the good that recovery programs do, and works to reduce the stigma around recovery and mental health conversations. SAMHSA and its partners hope to reduce that stigma by informing the public through awareness events each September.
This year’s Recovery Month marks the tradition’s 30th year, and SAMHSA has unveiled a new logo for the occasion. It has also declared 2019’s theme — Join the Voices of Recovery: Together We Are Stronger. This new wrinkle in the celebration’s tradition emphasizes community, because community helps us begin recovery and sustain it.
Very often, opioid addiction isolates the one who suffers from it. Your need for the high consumes your energy, your resources, and your time. You lose these things along with your connections with others.
But recovering from addiction works the opposite way. Often, your addiction proves that you alone can be a dangerous situation. And so, your recovery requires relationships. Whether you’re beginning treatment or continuing your recovery, you can’t do it alone.
Each part of opioid addiction treatments (intake, treatment design, detox supervision, buprenorphine doses, emotional therapy, and peer groups) includes someone else coming alongside you. That someone else might be a doctor, nurse, therapist, or peer. They might serve different roles. You’ll need every single one of them. They have the knowledge, medications, insights, and support that’ll help you take on recovery once you’ve left treatment.
This part of your opioid-free life complicates community. You won’t have mandated therapy sessions or peer group meetings. You might keep receiving medically-assisted treatments, but your doctor and nurses might feel more distant. But don’t lose sight of your community: it began your recovery, and it’ll help you sustain it.
Connection to others sustains your opioid recovery through involved support, through regular accountability, and through new purpose.
Seeing others regularly might help you become involved in their lives, and help them become involved in yours. Eating together, laughing together, and catching up on life’s highs and lows can connect you to others. If you connect to the right people, they can help support you through the daily fight to resist opioid use. The “right” support group includes anyone that actively supports and accommodates your daily recovery choices, whether friends or family.
Interpersonal accountability is one kind of support. Going through each day might expose you to addiction “triggers” (places or feelings that make you want to relapse into opioid use). But if your support system knows your triggers, they can ask you how you handle them.
It doesn’t have to be confrontational. Your friend can simply ask, “How’s x going?” Be as honest as you can, especially when it’s uncomfortable. That way, you can evaluate your recovery. It’ll help you realize where you succeed and where you need improvement. You’ll need those insights to improve your recovery as your life continues to change.
Both connection and accountability add one extra benefit: new purpose. After you choose a life free from opioid addiction, you’ll need to redirect the energy and time that it once took from you. Connection to others might become a healthy outlet for you. You can choose to be the caring friend and family member that maybe you hadn’t been before. That choice can lead you into a healthier direction, not to mention that it’ll serve your loved ones and deepen your relationships.
There won’t be one place that works for everyone, since each recovery journey succeeds differently. Where you choose to go and who you choose to reach will depend. But there are a few places everyone can begin looking.
You’ve already heard a little about support systems and who they should include. Just as a refresher: who your support system members are matters less than their commitment to your recovery lifestyle.
If you have old friends who once used opioids with you, and if they haven’t begun their own recoveries, maybe you shouldn’t rely on their support for your sobriety. Same for family members. Re-entering drug-risk relationships will expose you to triggers and can threaten your sobriety.
All the people fighting for the same recovery can improve your support system. They’ve been where you’ve been, and they might be just where you are now. Explaining opioid addiction to those who’ve never fallen into it can prove difficult. When you join together with those who’ve survived and chosen recovery, you might find a stronger, unspoken understanding.
These peer groups can continue those sessions you attended during your initial treatments. Keeping that group and setting constant could help stabilize your life post-treatment.
However, sticking to those same peer groups once you’ve struck out into post-treatment recovery be inconvenient for you. There’s the chance that you’ve moved away from the area, or begun working, or filled up your life with any number of new commitments. But you’ll still need to engage with new peer groups for ongoing opioid recovery.
Also, online recovery communities are now available. One prominent example is In The Rooms, a website designed specifically to provide global community to anyone struggling with addiction. Dozens of live online meetings happen at the same time each week.
Want to attend? Just sign up and access the meeting from any online device. It’s that easy on purpose.
There’s another way to connect to the larger recovery community, besides seeking it out in-person and online. You can join your community’s addiction awareness events this September and support its efforts.
“Support” here isn’t as intensive as the support systems of your recovery. Supporting Recovery Month events can mean just showing up. It could mean volunteering, if you find that to be a healthy outlet. Your story of recovery, no matter how recent or how checkered, would make a valuable addition to this month’s awareness campaigns.
Whatever you do, checking out a Recovery Month event near you could help your recovery. It can connect you to new peers in recovery, identify those people and organizations who support your fight, and give you a platform to inspire others with your story.
All in all, recovery and its focus on community can help you or a loved one begin and continue opioid recovery. The ways you find community, or the people you find it with, are up to you. Recovery is the only requirement .
SAMHSA defines recovery this way: “A process of change through which individuals improve their health and wellness, live a self-directed life, and strive to reach their full potential.” That’s the end goal of the community they’re supporting this September. It’s also our goal here at Buprenorphine Doctors, where we connect our readers to opioid addiction doctors, opioid addiction treatment centers, and to opioid addiction education.
We have the medical resources and the explanatory content to help you undertake your recovery, and to sustain it. Check in again next week for another Recovery Month post!