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Blue road sign displaying the word "Recovery"

For the millions of Americans struggling every day with drug or alcohol addiction, recovery can seem daunting and even unattainable. President Barack Obama has proclaimed September as National Alcohol and Drug Addiction Recovery Month to help spread the message that people can and do recover.

The culmination of Recovery Month is Recovery Day, which is celebrated every year in Boston with a march to the State House and a celebration of recovery. Organized by the Massachusetts Organization for Addiction Recovery, this year’s event will take place on September 26th.

Substance abuse and dependence is a complex brain disorder characterized by chemical changes in the brain which interfere with a person’s ability to think clearly, exercise good judgment, and feel normal without using the abused substances.

  •  Alcohol is the most commonly used addictive substance in the United States. Alcohol abuse can affect all aspects of a person’s life and can lead to serious health complications.
    • As we age, our bodies respond differently to alcohol; there are tips and advice we should all heed to ensure safer drinking as we age.
  • Drug abuse occurs commonly with substances such as marijuana, cocaine, and heroin. Other dangerous addictive substances that are often overlooked are prescription drugs used without a prescription.
    • The Stop Pill Abuse initiative shares information and advice to help prevent and treat prescription drug abuse.

Recovery is an ongoing process, and the Department of Public Health’s Bureau of Substance Abuse Services (BSAS) is committed to creating a supportive continuum of addiction-related services that includes ongoing recovery support. As part of these efforts, the Bureau funds Peer Recovery Support Centers across the Commonwealth that are designed to be welcoming places for individuals and families who have been negatively impacted by alcohol or drug addiction. The BSAS also provides research and resources to help inform the public on the dangers of substance abuse and encourage prevention and treatment. BSAS programs that focus on prevention, youth intervention, and geriatric abuse can be found across the Commonwealth.

DPH also regulates and funds a robust treatment system. If you are concerned about someone’s alcohol or drug use, or are looking for support for your own or a loved one’s recovery, visit www.helpline-online.comor call (800) 327-5050 seven days a week; multi-lingual service is available – for those who use a text telephone (TTY), call (888) 448-8621 – for peer support services, confidential information, and referrals to counseling.

The risks factors for developing substance abuse problems are complex and related to how an individual interacts with others as well as society. If and how quickly a person becomes addicted to a substance depends on many of these factors and there is no one-size-fits-all answer to how or why this happens. Being aware of risk factors can help aid in addiction prevention by enabling a person to identify and avoid dangerous situations or elements before they result in addictive behaviors. If you or someone you know has developed a problem, recognizing signs and symptoms of drug abuse and alcohol abuse is the first step in the treatment and recovery process. It is important to remember Recovery Month’s message that prevention works, treatment is effective, and people can and do recover.

You’ll find more tools to help prevent substance use disorders through the Massachusetts Health Promotion Clearinghouse and on the Department of Public Health’s blog.

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