All around us in our community, it is estimated that one in four people are in recovery from mental and/or substance use disorders. They are contributing to our businesses, connecting with their families, and giving back to the community. But if we want more people to join them on a path of recovery, we need to take action – now. Too many people are still unaware that prevention works, and that these conditions can be treated, just like we can treat other health disorders such as diabetes and hypertension. We need to work together to make recovery the expectation.

We all are recovering from something. Having worked in the recovery field for 32 years, I have seen firsthand the benefits of recovery. Individuals who embrace recovery achieve improved mental and physical health, as well as stronger relationships and a sense of self-worth. Mental and/or substance use disorders do not discriminate – they affect people of all ethnicities, ages, genders, geographic regions, and socioeconomic levels. An estimated one thousand people needed treatment last year in in our community and we need to address this real issue.

We can’t get discouraged by the prevalence of these problems, because help is available. In fact, in 2011, 31.6 million adults aged 18 or older received services for mental illness in the past year, and 2.3 million people aged 12 or older who needed treatment for an illicit drug or alcohol use problem received treatment at a specialty facility.

These individuals have achieved healthy lifestyles, both physically and emotionally, and contribute in positive ways to their communities. They need the support of a welcoming community to help them on their path of long-term recovery. Fortunately, more than 80 percent of Americans would think no less of a friend or relative who is in recovery from addiction.

To further educate communities about the pathways to recovery and to support people in recovery, every September, people throughout the nation celebrate National Recovery Month, an initiative Page 2 Picnic in the Park sponsored by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

Center for Life Resources is celebrating Recovery Month by holding our Second Annual Recovery Walk and Picnic in the Park from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 28, at Coggin Park to honor individuals and families who are in long-term recovery. A huge turn-out at these events will send a signal that our community embraces recovery and supports those working in the field to provide much-needed recovery services. Please walk with us. We are all recovering from something. Join us for a morning of inspirational stories of recovery, games and activities in the park and a picnic lunch from 1-2 p.m. (free hot dogs and drinks).