St. Lawrence Health

Drug and Alcohol Addiction Recovery Resources

September is National Drug and Alcohol Addiction Recovery Month.

Sep. 11, 2023 4   min read

Alcoholism is a disease that affects individuals, families, and friends. St. Lawrence Health’s team of experts are available to assist you, no matter which category you fall into.

September is National Drug and Alcohol Addiction Recovery Month, and St. Lawrence Health (SLH) Operations Manager Bill Doyle pointed out there are supports for those who are currently using drugs or alcohol to an extreme, those who are in recovery, those who have had a return to use, and for all the people in their support system. Addiction is not solely about the individual struggling.

“When an individual is struggling from addiction, it doesn’t mean they are a bad person or there is something wrong with them. It just means they are human and need support,” Mr. Doyle said. “They did not wake up one morning and decide they would like to develop a dependence for drugs or alcohol. Something happened to that individual to bring them to that point, and instead of judging or labeling them, we need to ask them what happened and how we can help. Recovery is possible.”

Recovery Month celebrates everyone who is in recovery from a substance use disorder, and points out how recovery is possible for individuals who are not seeking help, or who have had a recurrence. Since the first Recovery Month in 1989, tens of millions of Americans have been able to share their stories with the world, which helps to create hope for those who are still struggling.

Recent statistics

According to the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, alcohol continues to be the number one substance when it comes to deaths in the United States. In 2021, there were 140,557 individuals who died from an alcohol-related death. Alcohol use disorder can start at any age, and may be the result of environmental factors, genetics, or psychological diagnosis. In 2021 there were 29.5 million Americans ages 12 and older with an alcohol use disorder.

During the height of COVID, isolation was encouraged to help stop the spread of the virus. That factor, however, caused significant duress for many people.

“When an individual is struggling with addiction, isolation can be devastating. Recovery is hard, and when we ask someone to try and do it alone, it becomes even harder. Since COVID, the United States has seen a drastic increase in fatal overdoses. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, there has been a 66% increase in overdose deaths from 2019 to 2021. In 2021, there were 106,699 confirmed drug-related deaths, compared to 70,630 in 2019,” Mr. Doyle reported.

“Because of this, we are finding not only more individuals seeking help, but the level of care needed to effectively treat those struggling has increased. More mental health services are needed, as well as more intense forms of addiction treatment,” he added.

Tools and resources

When an individual is struggling with substance use disorder, creating connections with others might be the most important and beneficial tool in their early recovery stage.

“With this connection, someone struggling has the ability to reach out for supports when things get tough for them. These tools come in many different forms and can look different for each person. It is important to remember that recovery is not the same for everyone, and each of us has different needs, not only with recovery, but with every aspect of life,” Mr. Doyle said.

Some of the different pathways of recovery include formal treatment, mutual support groups, a variety of different spiritual practices, exercise, and various other formats. It is critical for the person in or seeking recovery to find what works best for them and what is going to give them what they need to live a healthier, happier life.

Recovery is hard work; for both the person going through the process, and for their friends and family. For the individual, changes need to be made in many aspects of their life, and for their loved ones, support and understanding are not always easy. In addition, a return to active use is possible, and happens.

“Having a recurrence of drinking or substance use can be part of the recovery process and can happen multiple times in someone’s journey. The important thing to remember is there are supports available for anyone interested in accessing them and no person is a lost cause,” Mr. Doyle said.

NEXT STEPS Find the Help You Need When You Need It

St. Lawrence Health provides an array of Substance Use Disorder services in multiple communities in the North Country, along with inpatient and outpatient options.

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