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Summer 2013, Volume 21, Number 3

Recovery Month Goes International

September is the 24th annual National Recovery Month, which celebrates people in recovery from mental and substance use disorders, their treatment and service providers, and the idea that recovery is possible. Now, Recovery Month is going international.

Last year, Recovery Month celebrations took place in countries as diverse as Canada, England, Indonesia, Japan, and Tanzania, as well as all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and Guam. Communities in Canada and England are already planning events for 2013. There is even talk at SAMHSA of adding an international category to the awards recognizing those who organize the best Recovery Month community events.

People marching in Tokyo, Japan's Recovery Month Parade.

People marching in Tokyo, Japan's Recovery Month Parade.

"Recovery is a whole new concept in some countries," said Ivette A. Torres, M.Ed., M.Sc., Director of Consumer Affairs in SAMHSA's Center for Substance Abuse Treatment, who is working to engage Recovery Month participants in the Americas while on detail to the Pan-American Health Organization in Washington, DC. "The response I've received demonstrates there is certainly an interest."

No matter where in the world Recovery Month events take place, the theme this year will be the same: "Join the Voices of Recovery: Together on Pathways to Wellness." That theme highlights two ideas—that individuals are not alone on the journey toward recovery and that there are many paths to recovery, including medical care and other professional treatment, group support, and self-help.

For its part, SAMHSA will officially kick off Recovery Month with a press conference at the National Press Club in Washington, DC, on September 4. In addition to launching Recovery Month, the press conference will feature the release of the latest findings from SAMHSA's National Survey on Drug Use and Health. At a brunch sponsored by the National Association for Children of Alcoholics and the Entertainment Industries Council following the press event, SAMHSA will present its annual community event awards.

This year's National Recovery Month main event will be a Rally for Recovery organized by the Rhode Island Rally for Recovery Coalition. Organizers hope the event, which will take place on September 21 in Providence, RI, will draw more than 15,000 participants from throughout the region.

If you want to organize an event in your own community, consult the 2013 Recovery Month Toolkit. The toolkit features planning tools as well as educational materials you can distribute in your community or at your local event. You'll learn how to organize and promote events, reach out to the media, issue official proclamations, get the word out on radio and beyond, and raise funds to support your efforts. There are even sample logos, banners, and proclamations.

"You don't need a lot of money to put together an event," emphasized Ms. Torres, adding that collaborating with local partners is a key cost-saving strategy. "Plus," she said, "partners don't have to give money. A neighborhood coffee shop might offer refreshments and other contributions to volunteers and participants, for example. It's especially important to consider inviting elected officials since they could play a key role in supporting recovery in communities throughout the U.S."

"A lot can be done with a phone call!" said Ms. Torres. "Someone knows someone, and poof! It happens."

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