NCDHHS marks National Recovery Month, highlights resources available

RALEIGH — September marks National Recovery Month, an opportunity to celebrate any changes towards wellness and a healthier, happier life. It specifically highlights people in recovery from substance use and mental health conditions, while also promoting treatment and recovery practices. The theme of Recovery Month is “Every Person. Every Family. Every Community.” — an important reminder that recovery is all around us.

Nearly 60 million Americans identify as being in recovery from substance use and mental health conditions. SAMHSA defines recovery as a process of change through which people improve their health and wellness, live self-directed lives and strive to reach their full potential. The four major dimensions of recovery include health, home, purpose and community.

Each person’s recovery journey is unique and based on their life goals and values. Support for recovery includes a continuum of interventions, services, supports and modalities people might choose, including harm reduction programs, faith-based programs, mutual aid support groups and fellowships, recovery housing and natural recovery.

“Just as people recover differently from any other medical disease, people recover from mental health conditions and addiction in different ways as well,” said Kelly Crosbie, MSW, LCSW, Director of the NCDHHS Division of Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities and Substance Use Services. “This is why it’s so important to have multiple pathways to support wellness in all communities. When we meet people where they are, with support rather than stigma, we reinforce the power of every person to produce positive change in their own lives.”

As a result of national litigation against opioid companies, North Carolina will receive more than $1.5 billion to provide recovery support and other resources to communities. NCDHHS is also partnered with the North Carolina Association of County Commissioners to support local jurisdictions around settlement spending and evidence-based recovery-oriented systems of care. This past year, they co-hosted a webinar series highlighting resources across the state that support people in recovery, including how counties could support this work using settlement funds.

North Carolina has a variety of programs, most of which include peer support specialists, to help those in recovery reach their goals:

  • North Carolina has 18 Collegiate Recovery Programs including two recovery high schools. Collegiate recovery programs provide a supportive community and environment and resources for students who are living or desiring a lifestyle of recovery. They offer students the opportunity to experience college and pursue their education without sacrificing their recovery.
  • Peer support can help the families and caregivers of someone in recovery navigate their own unique challenges and recovery journeys. As of Sept. 1, 2023, there were 4,605 Certified Peer Specialists in North Carolina. Certified Peer Support Specialists are employed in a variety of settings, including with Local Management Entity-Managed Care Organizations, mental health and substance use disorder providers, peer-run organizations, private and NCDHHS-run psychiatric hospitals and substance use treatment facilities and the state’s piloted peer respite center.
  • NCDHHS funded 23 local health departments through the Community Linkages to Care grant to partner with local agencies and community-based organizations. From December 2019 to April 2023, these programs were able to connect with 115,183 people statewide.
  • Oxford Houses provide housing for people in recovery. There are currently 300 houses, providing more than 2,300 recovery beds operating across the state.
  • Syringe service programs are an important resource in the community to help reduce the spread of disease while also helping connect people to care and providing supportive services, ranging from naloxone access to referrals for mental health and substance use disorder treatment.  From 2016 through 2022, these programs have provided 14,260 referrals to treatment for mental health, substance use, and/or co-occurring disorders. Additionally, syringe service program participants have reported 45,981 overdose reversals across the state.

If you or someone you know is ready to start their recovery journey, support is available. SAMHSA’s National Helpline is free and confidential; it offers treatment referrals and information services (in English and Spanish) 24/7/365 for individuals and families facing mental and/or substance use disorders. Call 1-800-662-HELP (4357), and an online treatment locator is also available here.

Resource advocates are also available through the Alcohol Drug Council of North Carolina. They provide information and resources for care in English and Spanish 24/7/365 via phone calls or text at 800-688-4232, as well as email and online live chat through their website at www.alcoholdrughelp.org.

For more information, visit North Carolina’s Opioid and Substance Use Action Plan.