September is Recovery Month
- Be Aware
- Be Mindful
- Be Proactive
- Be Helpful
Pledge with us to have open conversations about our mental health with our friends, family and loved ones this month. Let’s work together to build healthy families and healthy communities.
September is National Recovery Month
Recovery is for every New Mexican
Jenni is 43 and from Albuquerque. She grew up in a household with an alcoholic parent and experienced abuse as a child. In high school, her friends were experimenting with cocaine. When her boyfriend offered her crystal meth, she soon felt herself fell into a tug-of-war with the drug that soon took over her life. It wasn’t until the accidental overdose of one of her closest friends that she accepted she needed help. No one had talked to her about how addiction was a disease and that treatment was available. She didn’t know her childhood trauma was a factor in her struggles with substance misuse. With the help of a few trusted friends, she was able to check herself into a rehabilitation facility. Today, she has been in recovery for 15 years, is a mother to two children, and helps normalize treatment by talking about her struggles openly with her family, children, and co-workers.
Pablo is 62 and grew up outside Española with his family who are fifth-generation ranchers and farmers. Pablo worked hard and eventually married and had four children with his wife. Shortly after his 40th birthday, he broke his hip and femur in a farming accident and had to undergo intensive surgery, almost losing his leg. During his recovery, his doctors prescribed him Vicodin and Percocet—prescription opiate medications to help with his chronic pain. After his prescription was finished, he turned to buying pills on the street and realized he might be addicted to opiates. Growing up in a traditional New Mexican family in the 70s and 80s, Pablo learned that men must be tough and that asking for help was a sign of weakness. Still, with the help of his family, he realized that there is nothing more brave and important than prioritizing his recovery. With the help of a medication-assisted treatment program and extensive physical therapy, Pablo was able to stop using opiates and has been in recovery for the last nine years.
April is 24 and from Laguna Pueblo. She grew up on the reservation with a large family who always supported and cared for her. April did very well in school and graduated from college with honors. She decided she wanted to pursue medical school, but the demands and stress she was facing in her program led her to begin drinking more heavily than usual. April didn’t think there was a problem because she could still attend classes and function in her everyday life. Even though she had seen many of her friends and family members struggle with alcoholism, she felt ashamed and afraid to seek support. She looked up recovery meetings near her University and began attending them regularly. April acknowledges that she didn’t need to hit “rock bottom” to want to change her relationship with alcohol and stop drinking, and today she has been in recovery for almost two years.
Too often, our community members are shunned for having a disease they cannot control—addiction. Instead of ignoring or judging people in our lives who are struggling with substance misuse, let’s share the stories of strength and hope that people in recovery have found. Did you know that more people are living in recovery than individuals are struggling with addiction? This means that recovery isn’t just a vague possibility—it’s a likely outcome.
New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham declared September 2023 National Recovery Month with a special proclamation. Let’s take a moment to encourage our friends, family and loved ones who are on the path to recovery. It takes grit and commitment to achieve mental wellness, and anyone in recovery is making giant strides to overcome the struggles that have held them back. Remember, mental wellness is essential for overall physical health.
In celebration of Recovery Month, communities across New Mexico are uniting to honor recovery in all its forms. Recovery Communities of New Mexico (RCoNM) organizes various events throughout the state to celebrate and support New Mexicans in recovery of all ages. From traditional dances to art shows and family-friendly activities, these events highlight the strength and resilience of the recovery community.
The New Mexico Human Services Department, Behavioral Health Services Division (BHSD) is a sponsor of RcoNM, and supports a number of programs promoting recovery. Their Office of Peer Recovery and Engagement (OPRE) trains up New Mexicans with lived experience to enter the behavioral healthcare workforce as Certified Peer Support Workers (CPSWs). CPSWs inspire hope and show a path to recovery that others can follow. Their training program helps individuals maintain their recovery while assisting others in their journey. Sign up for the weekly OPRE newsletter here.
Our sister campaign, A Dose of Reality, is part of BHSD’s Office of Substance Abuse Prevention’s initiative spreading awareness about recovery and harm reduction methods. Their website and social media accounts provide valuable resources for those seeking assistance, emphasizing that recovery comes in many forms. Check out videos from real New Mexicans sharing their stories about being in recovery on the website. Another BHSD-led program, the 988 Lifeline, is a safe starting point for those curious about the first steps of recovery. By calling, texting or chatting #988, New Mexicans of all ages can access free and confidential support from certified professionals. The Lifeline connects people with local resources to help them on their journey toward treatment and recovery.
National Recovery Month is a time to recognize the strength of the human spirit, the power of community and the possibility of transformation. It’s a time to celebrate every step forward and inspire others to find their individual path to recovery. Remember, recovery is not just a possibility—it’s a reality for millions of individuals who have faced challenges and emerged stronger on the other side. Let’s work together to end the stigma and shame faced by those in recovery or those wishing they could begin a treatment plan. This month, start conversations about the possibility of recovery and the resources available to help any New Mexican in need. Together, we can take a Dose of Wellness and build healthy, thriving communities.