September is ‘Addiction Recovery Awareness Month’

Building awareness of issues that some people would rather not face is key to not only understanding them better, but to getting those affected the specific help they need.

Throughout the month of September, Faces and Voices of Recovery (FAVOR) Canada will join with partners across the country and around the world to celebrate the power and proof of recovery from addiction and its value to individuals, families, workplaces, and communities.

There is certainly a need for this type of movement, as issues of addiction remain a huge problem across virtually every sector of society.

In 2012 the Canadian Community Health Survey (CCHS) found that 4.4% of Canadians met the criteria for a substance use disorder.

To put that in perspective, this figure represents more than 1.5 million people, which is greater than the population of the entire city of Calgary.

Despite this prevalence, accessing timely and effective treatment services is a challenge for those suffering from addiction, organizers say.

Add the challenge of the societal stigma surrounding addiction, and there are significant barriers to seeking help.

Sadly, there does remain a reluctance on the part of many to seek help because of the fear of loved ones or friends finding out about the given addiction.

Perhaps loved ones already know, but the people themselves feels trapped in the shadow of addiction and the fear of finally facing it head on. But there is much in the way of assistance today, and it’s hoped that people with addictions can increasingly – through awareness and the removal of any sense of stigma – find the help they need.

Also, recovery, as organizers emphasize, can be a matter of life and death.

“Recovery is the solution to addiction – and it saves lives,” says Annie McCullough, executive director and co-founder of FAVOR Canada.

Established in 2013, FAVOR Canada is dedicated to eradicating the stigma, fostering the development of recovery community organizations and supporting such activities as Recovery Month.

The first Canadian Recovery Day, organized by McCullough and others, was celebrated in Vancouver and Victoria in September of 2012.

Since then, the movement has caught on in many communities across the country.

This year, celebrations are being planned in 25 Canadian cities throughout the month of September, with activities ranging from rallies to breakfasts to bike rides.

It’s all in an effort to also just get people talking about the realities of addictions, and to bolster that sense in those affected that there is a strong system of support that is available – no matter what they are facing.

The power of stigma can be fueled by silence – thus the importance of getting these issues more out in the open and encouraging conversations. In past generations, shame and secrecy forced many to battle alone – and often, they simply just couldn’t win those struggles.

Meanwhile, organizers say to see that level of commitment from local communities to the cause is energizing and empowering.

“It is gratifying to see the tremendous energy and support for Recovery Day,” says McCullough. “As we look forward to 2016 and beyond, FAVOR Canada will lead the way in recovery advocacy in this country.”

Ann Dowsett Johnston, bestselling author of Drink: The Intimate Relationship Between Women and Alcohol and also a founding director of FAVOR Canada, explained that, “We’re taking the recovery movement to the streets, joining millions of North Americans in a major coming-out party. What was once hidden is now being celebrated from coast to coast to coast. This is a sea change in the world of addiction recovery.”

For a list of events planned across Canada, consult the Recovery Day web site www.recoveryday.ca, which also offers useful tools to encourage participation in a wide range of recovery activities.

To learn more about FAVOR Canada and how to join the growing recovery movement, consult the organization’s web site www.facesandvoicesofrecovery.ca or email annmarie@facesandvoicesofrecovery.ca

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