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September 10, 2012: DHS & National Recovery Month

Hello DHS,

September is National Recovery Month, a time to recognize the millions of Americans with alcohol and drug abuse issues who make the decision to recover from their addiction. It’s a time to recognize their strength and resilience, and also to acknowledge that probably every DHS employee works with Oregonians who are fighting addiction and working to maintain their recovery. Addiction is a chronic illness that primarily affects the brain. Many of us have faced the challenge of knowing people in our personal lives or families with an addiction. In fact, some of us may have even lost loved ones to addiction.

Our DHS Core Values of Respect and Integrity are also meant to apply to clients and coworkers who have fought the chronic illness of addiction and attained recovery. I want us to become an agency that truly embraces those in recovery and acknowledges their strengths, rather than judging them about their behaviors while active in their addiction. Too many people are still unaware that recovery programs work. Addiction can be treated, just like other chronic health disorders such as diabetes and hypertension. In fact, 2.6 million Americans aged 12 or older who needed treatment for an illicit drug or alcohol use problem received treatment at a specialty facility in the past year.

This year's Recovery Month theme is Join the Voices for Recovery: It's Worth It. The theme emphasizes that while the road to recovery may be difficult, the benefits of preventing and overcoming substance abuse issues are significant and valuable to individuals, families and communities. The theme also highlights that people in recovery achieve healthy lifestyles, both physically and emotionally, and contribute in positive ways to their families and communities. They serve as living proof to all of us that prevention works, treatment is effective and people do recover. Recovery Month is a time to salute those in recovery, honor their battle and celebrate their success.

I think many of us know people who have overcome an addiction, but we've never heard their story of recovery. There's a great feature on this year's national website that shares those stories. I hope you’ll take some time to listen and think about how those voices speak to you in your own work and in your personal lives, too. Public sharing of recovery from addiction is a very personal decision and not to be taken lightly - but it is appreciated. I want to extend a special thank you to our DHS staff and contractors who have found the confidence and strength to share their own stories of recovery publicly. Your offering of this experience is motivating for us all and serves as an example that illness is nothing to be ashamed of and recovery is something to celebrate and model.

~Erinn

Here’s the link to the national website and those recovery stories: http://www.recoverymonth.gov/Voices-for-Recovery/Stories.aspx

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