- Now in its 29th year, National Recovery Month (Recovery Month) is held every September
- It was started in the United States in 1989 by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Association (SAMHSA)
- Recovery Month is now a multinational observance that has increased awareness of such problems and the possibility of recovery.
Welcome to Recovery Month
Now in its 29th year, National Recovery Month (Recovery Month) is held every September to demonstrate to people that substance use treatment and mental health services can enable those with a mental and/or substance use disorder to live a healthy and rewarding life. It was started in the United States in 1989 by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Association (SAMHSA) and is now a multinational observance that has increased awareness of such problems and the possibility of recovery.
The idea of a Recovery Month
Recovery month might seem strange to some people because recovery, in the context of addiction, is for life. Twelve-step programmes and treatment at rehabs such as Smarmore Castle Private Clinic and Castle Craig Hospital make this very clear. On the other hand, I myself will certainly benefit by seeing this recovery month as an opportunity to look at my recovery and take stock: how is it going, what are my needs and how can I do things better? I imagine that there are others who will benefit by doing the same.
After all, a recovery month is in effect, formalising a process that those in the Fellowships will recognise as the ‘maintenance steps’ – number 10 – ‘Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it’. And maybe a bit of steps 8, 9, 11 and 12 as well, for good measure!
So how will I go about this?
I think there are a number of ways of checking out my state of ‘recovery health’. I will list those that come to mind and would welcome ideas for more. We are all different but I hope that these considerations will work for me, so that I pass my recovery Check-up. They might even help a few others.
Here is my checklist of the ‘top ten’ recovery points:
Am I continuing to put my recovery first? Am I building my life around my recovery, rather than the other way round? I am still very much ‘work in progress’ and any sort of complacency can lead to compromises. This for me, is dangerous.
Am I vigilant in avoiding addictive behaviours? Having suffered from gambling problems as well as substance abuse in the past, I need to watch my behaviour carefully, especially when using the computer. Cross addiction can appear at any time.
Am I participating fully in the fellowships by attending meetings, using a sponsor and helping others, especially newcomers, to the best of my abilities? There is a big difference between going through the motions and really participating through sharing and socialising with others in recovery.
Am I in contact with my Higher Power on a regular basis? Spirituality is a highly personal thing but if we open ourselves to a power that is greater than us, we cease to be self obsessed and we can feel true gratitude.
Am I keeping things simple, a day at a time? Most of us over complicate our lives. This month is an opportunity to review our lifestyles and maybe ‘de-clutter’ where this is needed. Perhaps identify situations or people where we have to take a step back and detach.
Am I using the serenity prayer regularly? The urge to control and sometimes to change other people is still strong in me. I need to keep reminding myself in times of frustration, that I can only change myself and my responses to others.
Am I practising self care in mind, body and spirit? For me this means keeping my interests and relationships in good order, exercising and generally watching my physical health, and using prayer and meditation on a regular basis.
Am I practising honesty in all my affairs? Little white lies are not good for me. I am an expert at fooling myself. It leads to disaster.
Am I maintaining healthy boundaries in my dealings with others? Having been a chronic people pleaser, this is still a problem area. I need to practice saying no and I need to ask for help if personal relationships become unmanageable.
Am I consciously working on my self esteem? I know that if I can feel that I am doing my best, that I am striving to do the right thing throughout each day, that my self esteem will benefit. I need to focus on doing this, in a positive way, each day.
If my answer to any of these questions is ‘no’, or even a qualified ‘yes’, then I must act quickly and effectively to rectify the situation. Like the car that fails it’s annual NCT/MOT, I am not safe on the road until the problems have been put right. Already, while writing this, I can see areas in need of attention.
So, into action – a meeting tonight, a chat with my sponsor and a fast walk in the park are all on today’s schedule. But first off, the serenity prayer:
God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can,
And wisdom to know the difference.
Thanks Reinhold Niebuhr for writing this awesome prayer, thanks AA, GA and the rest for your support and example, thanks Higher Power for this kick up the backside, thanks Recovery Month for getting me to check myself over.
They say that contentment comes from having three things:
A sense of purpose, a sense of competence and a sense of belonging.
The Fellowships have given me these three things. Recovery is a precious gift and is there to be enjoyed, not endured. I intend to keep it that way.
~ Christopher Burn
A little about the Author:
Christopher Burn is a Consultant Therapist and External Advisor at Castle Craig Hospital, Scotland. He has worked as a visiting Therapist at Smarmore Castle Private Clinic.
He is an Internationally Certified Psychotherapist (ICADC) and a member of the National Association for Poetry Therapy (NAPT).
He is a writer and speaker on the power of poetry and using creativity to become ‘Better Than Well’.
Books written by Chris Burn: Poetry Changes Lives (2015), The Fun We Had (2016), Pulp Verses (2017).
Daily website: www.poetrychangeslives.com
Chris was educated at Ampleforth College, York and qualified as a Chartered Accountant (FCA 1964).
After Rehab in 1987, Chris has been in the fellowships of Alcoholics Anonymous and Gamblers Anonymous. He established the Gambling Recovery Programme at Castle Craig in 2012.
Christopher has also been a banker, tax specialist, taxi driver, hotelier and general vagabond. He has lived in several European countries. He is married with three children and five grandchildren and divides his time between London and Scotland.
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